1. The Pedagogy of Black Teachers in Segregated School Systems in America: 1940 - 1966
Purpose of the Study
The fundamental purpose of the study is to document and preserve the pedagogical methodologies and philosophies of Black teachers and administrators who worked in segregated schools in the United States between 1940 and 1966. “Pedagogy” as used herein means the effective use of instructive strategies to achieve predetermined educational goals. Pedagogical methodology must be examined in conjunction with the instructor’s philosophical beliefs of instruction and the environment in which the teacher and the pupil work.
Why this Study is Important to Modern Educational Discourse
Despite versions of history which suggest otherwise, and despite the unfair, discriminatory, and harsh environmental factors they faced, many teachers who worked in segregated schools were effective and successful in teaching their students. There are many examples of successful Black schools throughout the United States whose academic performance during the time of legally enforced segregation equaled or exceeded their white counterparts. Data from across the country shows that America’s secondary schools are re-segregating at a tremendous pace. Black and Hispanic children constitute the majority of students in modern segregated schools. They perform at the bottom of every evaluation standard employed by modern educators. Modern educators and education specialists have developed theory after theory to explain why these students do not perform at or above acceptable levels. They have, however, overlooked the existence of a body of knowledge and many years of professional teaching experience and success in educating poor, minority children in segregated environments. This body of knowledge and experience is in the hundreds of black teachers who taught in segregated schools in the South during officially sanctioned segregation.
Understanding what Black teachers and administrators did to ensure the success of their students and their schools may lead to discovery of methodologies or practical recommendations that (1) improve the capacity of school boards, school administrators, teachers and communities grappling with the re-segregation of public schools to better utilize the human and economic resources available to them and (2) improve the educational, social and quality of life for minority students who currently attend segregated schools.
The objectives of the study will be accomplished by capturing the first-hand professional experiences and recollections of Black teachers and school administrators through the medium of oral history and an exhaustive literature review. The primary effort will be to collect oral, written, and physical evidence of what the teachers did routinely on a day to day basis. That is, the proposal seeks to obtain descriptions of teacher-centered and student-centered instructional practices, as well as possible hybrid approaches, to help map the intricacy and complexity of classroom practices. Identifying the source of the methods and philosophies followed by teachers in segregated schools is also crucial to a full understanding of how teachers were successful in segregated settings.
Needless to say, our intent is to pay tribute to these unsung heroes whose contributions to their profession and their community have hereto fore been diminished or ignored. A virtual documentary of the study participants' experiences will be produced as part of the study. It is envisioned that 50 to 150 participants will be interviewed on camera and their stories preserved for distribution in multiple media formats.
How You Can Help
Please help us identify Black teachers and school administrators who worked in segregated schools between 1940 and 1966 by downloading the “Participant Locator Form” and providing the requested information. You can help also by distributing this information throughout your email network to ensure as wide a distribution as possible. We recognize that age is a factor affecting the number of participants we identify. If necessary, please assist potential participants understand what we are proposing and encourage them to submit their information for our database.
You may return the form via US mail to:
Performance Resource Associates, LLC
Attn: Black Teacher Research Project
3402 Wembley Walk
Tucker, Georgia 30084
PRA is also seeking grant funding to support this research project. If you know of any organizations or individuals willing to support this effort please let us know.