The Color of Teaching

The Color of Teaching

The Color of Teaching

The Color of Teaching


One of the major concerns in education today is how to recruit and attract more teachers of color into the profession. In an attempt to move beyond the superficial and simplistic responses as to why students of color are not entering teaching, The Color of Teaching presents in-depth interviews with over two hundred persons of color from tour ethnic groups: African-Americans, Native Americans, Asian Americans and Latinos in the United States. These interviews, many of them teachers or education professionals, express their attitudes toward teaching and their understanding of why students of color may not be selecting teaching as a career.


John U. Ogbu

This book addresses the important problem of increasing the participation of minorities in the teaching profession. Dr Gordon approaches the problem through a comparative study of community forces that potentially influence the decision of minorities to become teachers. Community forces are the ideas or images of teachers and the teaching profession held by members of a minority community or group.

Researchers have examined structural and institutional barriers that limit minority entry into the profession. Dr Gordon, however, believes that in order to fully understand why more minorities do not choose teaching as a career option, we have to study the community forces that influence their decisions. Minorities develop an image of the teaching profession from their own experiences in the educational system, especially with teachers, as well as from their perceptions of career options. The author argues that adults communicate to children images of teachers and the teaching profession as well as their hopes of future careers for them. Teachers also help shape children’s images through the way they present themselves and their profession. Thus, both community forces and teachers influence children’s decisions to become or not to become teachers. The comparative study covered four major minority groups: African American, Asian American, Latino American and Native American. Teachers from these groups were interviewed in Cincinnati in Ohio, Long Beach in California, and Seattle in Washington. Additional interviews with Asian American community members in the San Francisco Bay Area were conducted to offset the low number of available Asian American teachers.

Dr Gordon’s research strongly suggests that community forces can potentially influence the choice of becoming teachers by minorities. The findings also demonstrate the importance of the comparative approach; although the groups share several factors in the community forces, there are also significant differences.

An important factor in developing a positive or negative image of the teaching profession is an individual’s or group’s historical experience with public schooling. Although these groups differ in specific encounters with

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