/Training teachers towards a multicultural pedagogical approach, through the Critical Race Theory (CRT) in South Africa

Training teachers towards a multicultural pedagogical approach, through the Critical Race Theory (CRT) in South Africa

Sibiya Thandeka Patience
PhD Candidate, Faculty of Psychology and Education, Eotvos Lorand University, Budapest

This article emerges from the need to teach for cultural diversity in higher education in South Africa. Teacher education is one the least funded faculties in universities across the country. This alleged neglect has a potential to negatively affect the prospects of multiculturally diverse learners meaningfully gaining from education. The quality of teacher education plays a signifi cant role in valuable and effi cient education attainment. Since 1994 there has been attempts by the Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) to increase access to higher education. Fundamentally, many improvements have been implemented, in terms of increasing enrolment, however, there is minimal government funding to (McGregor, 2014). Teacher education curricular appears to be deserted during the process of curricular transformation, which includes the need to decolonise it. This process according to (Yancy, 2017) will recentre the curriculum and facilitate a discussion of uncomfortable topics, such as race. Santos, (2007) refers to this process as moving from knowledge as regulation to knowledge as emancipation.

Undeniably, the country is faced with rapidly changing classroom demographics. This therefore suggests that teacher education needs to reform and transform its practices and invest in research that addresses issues pertaining to diversity, multiculturism and racism. This article advocates for the application of the Critical Race Theory (herein referred to as the CRT), across teacher education pedagogy.

Theoretical Framework
The Critical Race Theory (Bell, 1980; Delgado & Stefancic, 2001) is one of the practical and useful theories that scholars apply to criticise the neutrality and objectivity of the law which ignores the societal structural inequalities, which in turn perpetuate racism. CRT is therefore ingrained in the view that racism is enduring and tightly woven into the fabric of the society. The concept of racism, based on the background of diversity, exists in the backdrop of Apartheid South Africa. However, according to (Ibrahim, 2005), unlike the racism that was engineered from apartheid policies, there is a new form of racism based on ethno-linguistics, national identity, and ethnicity, which could be true for immigrants of African descent. This is a shift from the notion that racism develops from biological superiority. Babaca et al. (2009) argues that the advocates of the new racism, do not think along the lines of the white versus black ideology, but simple recognise that if an individual does not possess the same national origin as them, then he/she is different. It is against this view and background, that this paper wishes to illuminate the construct of racism and highlight reasons for teacher education to invest in a multicultural approach in the training of teachers in South Africa, through the CRT. At the core of the Critical Race Theory is the assumption that the idea is not to design a symbolic curriculum, and recruitment of a mosaic faculty, but to create a meaningful engagement with the subject of racism.

Complexity of Human Rights
Baxi (2005) has articulated at length what constitutes human rights. He says that there is no simple answer to a clear question: what are the rights of human beings. He further says that in defence and justifi cation of human rights, we have produced “complex and contradictory discourses”. Even the global consensus on human rights values serves as poor guides in translating idea into law or practice. In his book, The Future of Human Rights, Baxi (2005) has made us familiar with the complexity in the meaning of human rights and described human rights as: (a) ethical imperatives; (b) grammar of governance; (c) language of global governance; (d) insurrectionary praxis; (e) juridical production; (f) culture. It actually highlights the ambiguities in conceptualising and practicing human rights. But few scholars like Amartya Sen (2009) has tried to understand this dilemma and mentioned that “the framers of Universal Declaration in 1948 clearly hoped that the articulated recognition of human rights would serve as a kind of template for new laws” (p. 359). The emphasis should be on new legislation not just mechanical interpretation.

1.1 Adjustments and reforms
Wink, (2005) claims that teaching teachers begins with the past, which in turn informs the present and the future topics, therefore, the history of apartheid, cannot be left unattended, because it is responsible for the economic, political, cultural shades and undertones that infl uence the way in which teachers deliver the curriculum, today. This would then mean that teacher education according to (McLaren, 1998), should be designed in a way that it is able to meet the demands of the challenges of the global information age, which includes, activism to a revolutionary praxis that rejects the compromise of social justice and emancipation. Commitment to social change means framing teacher education curricular within the context of anti-racism, argues Villenas, (1996).

1.2 CTR and its tenants for teacher
When teacher educators and pre-service teachers are aware of the tenets of CTR, the assumption is that those who subsequently become victims of racism, for example, immigrants, (mainly, those of African origin), might be spared from being subjected to xenophobic attacks by their fellow South African Africans, based on the expected roles that teachers will be playing in society, from a transformation perspective. For this article, we are going to discuss key principles borrowed from social work, which are believed to have shaped CRT’s approach to research and pedagogy, which can be applied in teacher education.

1.2.1 Racism is endemic
The fi rst principle presents race as an endemic ideology, argues Constance- Huggins, (2012). This suggests that racism is not isolated to certain situations, but instead, it can manifest itself at any given time. It is reproduced in our structures, customs; and experiences, claims (Solórzano & Bernai, 2001). A teacher needs to be understood as an individual who arrives in the teacher training institution as somebody who already possesses some misconceptions about people who are different from him or her, and it is the duty of teacher educators to address these fallacies. Given its endemic nature, CRT suggests that the functions and effects of racism are often invisible to people with racial privileges, which could also mean the same attitude for Black South Africans, who may not consider xenophobia as a form of racism, because historically, racism is known to exist between white and black people.

The framing of teacher education along the knowledge and ability of teacher educators and pre-service teachers to approach education from a broader scope, could initiate the agency to discuss immigration and its policies, and how it has impacted the lives of immigrant learners and their parents, teachers, and the wider society. Even though the gravity of immigration on society particularly in education has been identified, (Turner & Figueroa, 2019) argue that what teachers learn at university and what they are expected to teach in the real teaching contexts, are dissimilar. We can exemplify this with the situation in the USA, during the 2016 presidential election campaign, where continued xenophobic and anti-immigration narratives gained momentum. Their popularity placed teachers in a predicament because they are not aware of how to care for and teach learners who are victims of anti- immigration, anti-Muslim and racism rhetoric. From these experiences, (Turner & Figueroa, 2019) state that immigrants’ experiences can not be studied in isolation from the attitudes of the host country. Contexts of reception could be a classroom mediated interaction, school systems and how society is structured in terns of affording immigrants opportunities that are also available to the locals, (Portes & Rumbaut, 2006). Teacher education is perceived as a platform that can ease the strain that immigrants receive, which could mean lifetime experiences unfolding and rippling across their childhood and adult lives.

1.2.2 Race is a social construct
The second principle of CRT, states that race is a social construct. As previously stated, advocates of the “new racism” based their logic on the idea of nationalism, as long as an immigrant shares no common heritage with then, then that calls for discrimination. According to this tenet, race is a system that was designed to depict humans according to their physical attributes, which have no relationship to genetic biological science. CTR argues that these social constructions are undeniably responsible for the discrimination that minorities suffer (Haney- Lopez, 2000). The assumption here is that the dominant groups typically determine race, using means such as the law and empirically based knowledge to protect their interests. Sone of these interests are often driven by capitalists demands. (McLaren, 1998) argues that teacher education should focus on the topic of capitalism, so that future teachers can be aware of the serious reunification of capitalism on the prospects of democracy. The claim that he makes discredits unregulated pursuit of capitalist expansions, which has the capability of curtailing democratic social relations. In turn, making sound political decisions becomes a big challenge, for both developed and developing countries, argues (Mander & Goldsmith, 1996). At present, the government in South Africa is blamed for failing to bring about sound social policies to speed up service delivery, and often, immigrants find themselves scapegoated for such failures. It is for such reason, that often immigrants suffer xenophobic attacks because they are perceived as job snatchsnatchers and blamed for competing with the locals for the little resources available. Solomon, & Kosaka, (2013) argue that this creates a feeling of resentment and bitterness towards immigrants, who find themselves persecuted for the failures of the post-apartheid government. This should give us an idea on what teacher education should be able to do to address multiculturalism and, in the process, eradicate racism.

Teacher education needs to meet the educational tasks demanded by the challenge of the global informational age: from the development of new languages of criticism and interpretation inspired by innovation in Marxian, feminist, and anti-colonial scholarship and activism to a revolutionary praxis that refuses to compromise its commitment to the imperatives of emancipation and social justice, (McLaren, 1998, p.130).

An anti-racist approach to teacher training pedagogy could be one of the attempts linked to the disruption of global capitalist accumulation tendencies that have a direct influence on how people treat each other based on wealth. It is a form of revolutionary multiculturalism anti-racist education, according to McLaren, 1997). Once teachers are exposed to this knowledge, challenges that accompany immigration, would be unmasked, and their mutually constitutive nature would be addressed with ease. This is another way of fundamentally counteracting hegemony, according to (Kailin, 1994; Sleeter & McLaren, 1995), and assist teachers unlearn racism, but also to develop agency, that will capacitate then with agency to identify racist behaviour. To reinforce this, (McLaren, 1998) asserts that pre-serve teachers should be introduced to research methodology that analysis the mechanisms of capitalist production and exchange, as well as “encouraged to pursue sociological investigations of administrative control, bureaucratic manipulation, the process of commodification, the creation of violence in local communities and in broader contexts of nation states, and the destructive patterns within the earth’s ecosystems,” (McLaren, 1998, p.131).

1.2.3 Differential Racialisation.
McLaren (1998) claims that CRT suggests that dominant groups in society can manipulate and recreate racial groups in different ways at different times to determine who is “in” or “out” of the dominant group. An example of this scenario is the ability of Black South Africans to decide why African immigrants are not deserving of being hosted in the country, meanwhile, there are also immigrants from Europe, Asia, and other continents, who are not subjected to discrimination. Le Roux, (2014), argues that post-apartheid South Africa, presents a logically explainable consequences of societal racialisation, which we see through gaps that exists between those who can access power and privilege and those who cannot. It is in this context that pre-service teachers are required to ultimately make sense of their own beliefs in the midst of acquiring agency to bridge polarised society, and that is if they are conscious of the polarisation itself.

Despite transformation attempts by the government to rebuild the country and forge social cohesion, racism is still a stumbling block. This racialisation tendency by South African, is not only existing along racial lines between Black and White, but it manifests even within Black people themselves. Le Roux, (2014) explains why race still remains a defining factor, it is because “despite numerous attempts at intervention by the government, the current education system continues to feed into the continuation of race-based social inequality in South Africa,” Le Roux, (2014, p. 2). This continued racialisation of South Africa, according to McKinney, (2007) impedes South Africans from abandoning the race card or even being able to think about race differently, which is one way that perpetuates racial stereotypes, utilise race as an identity marker, racial categorisation for social interactions, Collier, (2005).

It is important for us to ask if preserve teachers are capable to escaping racializing attitudes. Le Roux, (2014) claims that education is key in transforming an individual as well as social structures, hence, teacher education, should align itself with a curriculum that interrogates teachers’ roles in propagating racism and other forms of social inequality. Even though teachers in-training may strive for social cohesion, they may eventually be forced to choose racialised subjectivities that will inform their future professionalism, argues Walker, (2005). We can therefore assume that given this context, pre-service teachers have two choices, either to make sense of race and social identities, to inform their decisions and to seek agency to engage these issues through classroom pedagogy or unconsciously capitalise on them, and or perpetuate exclusion and marginalisation, argues Francis & Hemson, (2007).

1.2.4 Interests Convergence
In the famous historic USA Supreme 1954 Court Case known as Brown v. Board of Education, where this court ordered an end to a state mandated racial segregation in public schools, even though Brown emerged victorious, transforming the lives of Black people, who had been begging and pleading for decades to be treated according to their constitutional rights, there were however, disgruntled white groups who believed that ushering this new era would destabilise their acquired privileged status, states Bell, (1980). Even though there were groups that acknowledged that Black people were entitled to their constitutional rights like any other citizen of the USA, however, their willingness to recognise that racial segregation could not be addressed by ignoring white supremacy, was unrealistic. This therefore led to the white people, as a dominant racial group to undertakes efforts to improve the conditions of racial minority, based on the condition they converged with their interests, claims Constance-Huggins, (2012).

Quite a similar reality exists in South Africa, where Black South Africans are grieving continued racism, which is now manifesting as individual, interpersonal, structural, systemic and institutionalised racism. Based on these two scenarios exemplifying symbolic emancipation, in my opinion, teacher educators should be aware of such circumstances and try to train pre-service teachers on the double standard perceptions that are portrayed by the dominant group when it is required to be just to minorities. It is crucial that the curriculum teaches that justice is not a favour, or an option that is accompanied by demands, but we are all required to be just to others. To avoid or minimise dominance, teacher educators could encourage teacher in training to be conscious of the multiple sources of information that may be presented in the school and classroom. According to (Constance-Huggins, 2012), among these sources of information, are macro level influences, such as unequal display of power. It is possible for immigrant learners to bring these influences to school, which can adversely affect their school lives.

1.2.5 Advancing the voice of the
The fifth tenet of the CRT discusses the representation of the minority groups. This idea is used extensively in social work by social workers. According to National Association of Social Workers (NASW), (2008), social workers should strive for valuing the dignity and worth of a person. This approach by social work education, is a model that teacher educators could adopt in valuing the voice of an immigrant learner. Social workers are taught to treat their clients’ cases in a caring and respectful manner that is mindful of the individual’s uniqueness, cultural and ethnic diversity. Furthermore, social workers are trained to seek to enhance the client’s capacity and opportunity to transform his/her own life. This approach if it were to be applied in teacher education, the professional gaps that exist in the teaching profession, could be bridged.

1.3 Teacher preparedness
It is an expectation that teacher education should reinforce effective classroom practices, however, this is not always true, (Barone, Berliner, Blanchard, Casanova, & Mc- Gowan,1996, Ashton, (1996). This is attributed to the redundant teacher education programmes that are failing to prepare pre-service teachers for the real teaching context, argues (Goodlad, 1990). Literature attributes this failure partly to the inability by teacher educators to merge practice and theory.

Multicultural citizenship continues to pose challenges in classrooms, argues Banks, (2001). The solution for teachers to address this hurdle, is to receive practical preparation during training. Teacher educators have the duty to teach teachers to critically scrutinise race, culture and every dimension of diversity that exist in their classroom. Banks, (2001) claims that the construction of race and ethnicity should be understood by teachers in the context of social, economic, and political structures. This will assist them to understand the inclusivity of race, that it does not exist in isolation.

Contrary to the above belief, different literature present consistent data on the status of pre-service teachers particularly in the USA. It claims that teachers in training possess naïve and basic views when confronted with the responsibility to respond to diversity, (Bartolome, 1994; Middleton, 2002; Montecinos & Rios, 1999; Mueller & O’Connor, 2007). They are further demonstrating that they do not hold elaborate knowledge about cultural plurality even though in some cases, teacher educators have attempted to expose them to such knowledge, argues (Avery & Walker, 1993; Gallivan, 2008; Kickbusch, 1987; Martin, 2008; Mathews & Dilworth, 2008; Rubin & Justice, 2005; Sunal, Kelley, & Sunal, 2009). It is against this knowledge that the growing need to prepare teachers for the ever-changing world is persistent. This is not only for the USA context, but also for the South African one, particularly because these two countries share a similar common history, based on racism.

South Africa is uniquely hosting diverse Black cultures as well as diverse racial groups, which makes her even more diverse, which is the justification for the strong need for teachers to understand issues linked to heritage and multiculturalism. Personal experiences which form a large part of teacher identity (Bukor, 2014), and (Andrzejewski, 2008; Clarke, 2008; Meijer, Korthagen, & Vosalos, 2009; Soreide, 2006; Watson, 2006), and academic background, could afford a teacher a deeper awareness of multiculturalism and assist her/him to pull through when faced with the context of immigrant learners. In alliance with the above claim, Castro, (2010) states that teachers who are engaged in reflective thinking, capacitate their brains with consciousness and the desire to embrace social justice, for example, during the 2016 USA presidential election campaign, when narratives of anti- immigration were popularised, certain teachers in American schools, dedicated their career lives to proactively intervene in the situation, by creating inclusive learning environments Ortiz, & Jani, (2010).

South African society continues to be altered in several ways, as the country continues to receive and host both foreign and local immigrants. The ideology of racial discrimination that was fostered by the apartheid system, appears to continue to adversely shape the socio- economic and socio- political status quo. The presence of immigrants render the situation even more volatile, and immigrants find themselves at the centre of the blame. It is crucial that the education landscape, which at the centre is teacher education and teachers, transforms. Changes in teacher education are believed to be critically important for preservice-teachers who are also expected to examine the dominant relationships and power relations medium through which they are produced and learn how they can consciously empower themselves not to be unwittingly implicated in reproducing the status quo, as we see it in South Africa. One way of effecting change and influence policy and teacher attitudes is to base teacher education pedagogy on the Critical Race Theory, because it has the ability to pose realistic questions, that would assist pre-service teachers understand the concept of race and multiculturalism in an informed manner.

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