Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

The Song (Does Not) Remain the Same: Re-Envisioning Portraiture Methodology in Educational Research

Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

The Song (Does Not) Remain the Same: Re-Envisioning Portraiture Methodology in Educational Research

Article excerpt

This conceptual paper explores how portraiture methodology re-envisioned was used in an educational research project with white teachers. What qualifies as authentic voice and an appraisal of how portraiture and auto-ethnography hold up against the critique of voice-centered research made by Lather (2009), Mazzei and Jackson (2012a) and English (2000) are discussed in the context of the author's personal narrative journey to the use of portraiture methodology. Next, the trail blazing methodological contribution portraiture makes by allowing an expansion of creative research methods in education is discussed. Keywords: Portraiture, Voice-Centered Research, Ethnography, Autobiography, College Access Programs

Introduction

The landscape of qualitative educational research with low income and under-represented minority students is vast. Rather than re-hash the myriad of ways that researchers have approached qualitative research with teachers, this paper explores the element of voice in portraiture methodology juxtaposed against the critique of voice-centered research by Lather (2009) Mazzei and Jackson (2012a) and English (2000). The nature of a search for an authentic voice in research, and the quest for research that captures the positive aspects of a program as well as the possibility of re-envisioning portraiture methodology using de/colonial approaches to research with teachers in high school intervention programs is the focus. I argue that in utilizing braided methods (Weis & Fine, 2012), the use of portraiture allows for a consideration of the structural and institutional, the cultural context of schooling, as well as an exploration of the "writing self and the "researcher as instrument" (Lawrence-Lightfoot, 2005). The structure of this conceptual paper is as follows: I begin with an Artist's statement, in keeping with the artistic element of portraiture methodology, which blends an aesthetic approach with rigorous social science inquiry. An introduction to the original study and brief literature review of portraiture follows. The purpose of the paper is to illustrate how portraiture is be re-envisioned to focus on avoiding damage-based research with over-researched populations (Tuck & Yang, 2014).

The original study was locally focused, but the program in the original study is widespread throughout the US. By narrowing the focus on the Advancement via Individual Determination (AVID) program in the state where I live, I was able to spend more time with individual teachers over the course of three years. The aim of the study was not to gather generalizable data, but rather to address a gap in the literature around culturally responsive teaching practice in the AVID program. Examining the role of the white teacher in the work of assimilating students in the habits of whiteness is important work. The original study (Brooks, 2017, forthcoming) argued that niceness, politeness, and hospitality are covers for the in loco parentis (parental) roles some teachers intentionally assume in this particular program to maintain the myth of meritocracy and subdue student questioning of white supremacy. I also considered the intersecting ways in which gender and whiteness, socioeconomic status of students, and teaching assimilative norms manifest in the context of the historical feminization of teaching in public schools in the US. Women teachers are doing the work of socializing students into middle class norms and values. It is in this sense that the intersecting nature of race, class, and gender manifest in the classroom. This original study built on current conversations about diversity work in US public schools; teacher narrative portraits illustrated the insidious ways some teachers used assimilative norms and values and the myth of meritocracy to uphold white supremacy. This study contributes to a body of knowledge that brings to light the need for better teaching of culturally competent pedagogy for white teachers to improve the educational experience of under-represented minority students. …

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