Academic journal article Curriculum and Teaching Dialogue

Education, the South, and the New Hegemonic Bloc

Academic journal article Curriculum and Teaching Dialogue

Education, the South, and the New Hegemonic Bloc

Article excerpt

Whether or not it is a purposeful event, teachers have strong influences over the lives and beliefs of students. Be it a nuanced description of some content, a short diatribe regarding the purpose of the curriculum, or an offhanded comment in the hallway, the views of teachers permeate the educational conversation in schools. The purpose of this article is to investigate the views of public educators and what they believe about education. Because of the influence of educators, what they believe can have a great deal of influence over students, schools, and the community.

However, this article is about contradictions. Many times, we see the world as a binary. Things either are, or they are not. The purpose of this article is to investigate the grey. Specifically, it is to look at education, the South, and what makes up the South through the beliefs of educators. Traditionally, the South has been viewed as a Conservative bastion of highly religious people tied together by their communities, beliefs and histories. There is ample evidence (Kirby, 1986; Ezell, 1988; Reed, 1994; Whitlock, 2007; Woodard, 2013) of this phenomenon. This article will focus on the beliefs of educators regarding the purpose of public education in order to more clearly delineate what educators believe and what that suggests about where they live. The focus of this study was on looking at the differences in rural, suburban, and urban schools. Going in, there was an expectation of what would be found. However, the outcome was far from what was expected.

As noted earlier, the purpose of this study was to look at beliefs about public education. Prior to conducting the study, one area of interest was to look at the differences in beliefs of urban, suburban, and rural educators in the South. Using a population sample of teachers, administrators, and paraprofessionals from six counties in the Southeast, a new version of the Purpose of Public Education Survey (Page & Kemp, 2013) was distributed via email for the purpose of looking at the beliefs of educators related to region. The hypothesis was that a clear definition of the Conservative South would be defined. However, the results took us in an entirely different direction. Because of this, this article took a turn that was not expected. Therefore, the literature review reflects not only the original purpose of the research study, but also the direction it took us.

The original purpose of the research was to look at the differing views of educators in the South based on the region. More specifically, the purpose of this study was to use the beliefs of educators to help define what it means to live in the South. Do the beliefs of educators reflect the traditional view of what it means to be Southern? Are the stereotypes of what it means to be Southern true when looked at through the eyes of educators?

Cast to the fringes of popular discussion regarding education, the work of Apple, Giroux, and McLaren, while a staple of doctoral study, is lost when it comes to any reasonable discussions of public education. What was discovered in this investigation of the beliefs of educators in rural, urban, and suburban areas was a belief system that was both surprising and supported in the literature.

As noted previously this was the focus of this article. The general hypothesis for this study was that the South would be defined through the beliefs of educators. Yet, what was discovered was that the South was not as stereotypical as expected. In fact, it was more of a reflection of the views of many critical theorists and the relationship between conservatism and neoliberalism.

THE SOUTH AND CONSERVATISM

One cannot stereotype the South because of the differences in the cultures, economies, demographics, and geographic locations of urban, suburban, and rural areas in the South (McPherson, 2003). Where is the South? Many have attempted to answer this question. …

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