Coming soon, by Meagan Call-Cummings:
Claiming Power by Producing Knowledge: the empowering potential of PAR in the classroom
Abstract: One of the fundamental pieces of the critical epistemology that underlies PAR is that the expertise of everyone involved in the research process, but particularly those often referred to as “subjects” or “participants,” is valuable and should be honored in the production of authentic knowledge, and that this process of producing authentic knowledge in an inclusive way in fact leads to the empowerment of those involved in it. This article draws from two independent, participatory studies conducted between 2012 and 2014. Why are our teachers racist? took place over an 18 month period at a midsized high school in a rural dairy town in Idaho. This study used participatory approaches and worked from a PAR-centered epistemology to answer student-formed questions about race and racialized relationships between White teachers and Latino/a high school students. Who can do research? was conducted in the fall of 2013 with a group of 60 pre-service teachers enrolled in a required Education Research class during their final year of a teacher education program that would qualify them to teach students of any ability in primary school (K-8). The studies help to inform each other as well as the fields of inquiry methodology and education policy about what empowerment might really mean, what it might really look like, and how we might attempt to reach for it. I conclude that when we infuse the practical world of classrooms and schools and education with the methodological and epistemological insights of PAR there is great potential for critical understandings that can lead to enhanced feelings of worth and value among teachers and students.