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Michael Parker

MUED 380
Jesse Rathgeber
9/20/16
Adairs De-Privileged Spaces Response
I found Jennifer Adairs article entitled White Pre-Service Teachers and
De-privileged Spaces to be one of the most thought-provoking articles I
have read in my time here at JMU. With such touchy and expansive topics
such as racial privilege and bias, it can be difficult to understand and
empathize as a non-minority student. This very personal telling of her case
study, however, helped open the door for me to begin to understand on a
much deeper level the current situations in our education system.
The majority of this article is told as a narrative, of sorts, about Adairs
case study in which she observes and chronicles the interactions and
reactions of students enrolled in a Multicultural Teacher Training (MTT) class
at a university. The class is inherently designed with different social norms
than typical, as the white students are actually the minority group in the
class. The white students come to realize over time certain sociallyconstructed barriers that minority students face every day. These barriers
range from linguistic differences from their home language, (making their
education more about learning English than learning subject content), to
feeling socially separated from the class because they do not necessarily
share the same experiences as the non-minority students.
There were many parts of the article that introduced new and lofty
ideas to me. One such was the very first class where the teacher spoke,
scolded, and gave a quiz all in Spanish. Obviously, the non-Spanish speaking
students in class were extremely uncomfortable and felt as if there was no
way they could succeed in said environment. This section really got me
thinking about times in the past where I had seen teachers scold students for
seeming lazy, but actually not understanding the language. I had never

thought about the situation from the students perspective before, so it was
very eye-opening to vicariously experience it, myself.
There was one section of the article, in particular, that really got me
thinking. It was the Cabo San Lucas story, where after some time of the
students being exposed to the new environment of this class, Mario, a native
Spanish speaker, felt uncomfortable speaking up in a one-on-one situation
about something with which he disagreed. What astounded me, and the
author, was that after all their time thus far in the class, where racial
stereotypes of societal placement had been almost reversed, Mario still did
not feel confident outside of that singular space standing up for himself in
terms of cultural issues, (such as language). This section also showed
Marios intelligence and social skills, as he still made a quick point to help
subliminally show Claire a different angle from which to examine the issue.
Overall, this case study served as merely a starting point towards my
overall understanding of the roles that culture and ethnicity play in the
classroom. Adair said it best when stating The presence of stories and
story-telling has been a powerful tool to expose racism throughout Americas
history (p. 199). Ironically enough, she opened my eyes much more to
these issues by telling the story of this class. I will make sure, as a future
educator, to be conscious of these issues and do my best to present an
equitable and safe learning environment to all students.

Discussion Questions:
1. Since language can quite often be such a barrier in classrooms, how
could you potentially teach an entire lesson plan without words? How
would you communicate your intentions and instructions non-verbally
so that all students can understand?
2. How can you better prepare your future classroom with the necessary
materials to accommodate non-English speaking learners? Your future
students?