On learning to thrive in the academy by turning outsiderness into strength

Christine Sleeter

Abstract


If you don’t see things the same way as everyone else, if you feel like a square peg trying to fit into a round hole, can you succeed in the academy while staying true to yourself? Can you survive, thrive, and make a significant contribution?

These personal questions connect with my professional work in multicultural education and ethnic studies, both of which interrogate institutionalized processes and structures in education that benefit groups with power at the expense of everyone else. I have spent much of my professional life trying to figure out how to transform those processes and practices to support the intellects, cultures, identities, and perspectives of students in our schools, and particularly those from communities minoritized on the basis of race. At the same time, I have had to wrestle with various dimensions of my own outsiderness, and learn how to thrive in academe without losing myself.

When advising young scholars and graduate students faced with vexing choices that affect their professional and personal lives, I always tell them to listen to their gut, to follow their heart. This is something I learned to do gradually, as I waded through years of distrusting myself. I also advise them that following your heart is not necessarily easy. Academe may well not be organized to support your passions and perspectives, so to thrive, you must be willing to invest effort in learning how academe functions in order to map out a path that fits you. But ultimately, thriving in the academy begins by valuing what makes you, you.


Full Text:

PDF
Cover Image

References


Grant, C. A., Boyle, M., & Sleeter, C. E. (1980). The public schools and the challenge of ethnic pluralism. Pilgrim Press.

Grant, C. A., & Sleeter, C. E. (1989/2009). Turning on learning (5th ed.). Wiley.

Larkin, J., & Sleeter, C. E. (Eds.). (1995). Developing multicultural teacher education curricula. SUNY Press.

Sleeter, C. E. (1986). Learning disabilities: The social construction of a special education category. Exceptional Children, 53, 46-54.

Sleeter, C. E. (1989). Multicultural education as a form of resistance to oppression. Journal of Education, 171(3), 51-71.

Sleeter, C. E. (Ed.). (1991). Empowerment through multicultural education. SUNY Press.

Sleeter, C. E. (1996). Multicultural Education as Social Activism. SUNY Press.

Sleeter, C. E. (2001a). Preparing teachers for culturally diverse schools: Research and the overwhelming presence of whiteness. Journal of Teacher Education, 52(2), 94-106.

Sleeter, C. E. (2001b). Epistemological diversity in research on preservice teacher preparation for historically underserved children. In W. G. Secada (Ed.). Review of research in education (Vol. 6; pp. 209-250). AERA.

Sleeter, C. E. (2001c). Culture, difference, and power. Teachers College Press.

Sleeter, C. E., & Cornbleth, C. (Eds.). (2011). Teaching with vision: Culturally responsive teaching in standards-based classrooms. Teachers College Press.

Sleeter, C. E., & Grant, C. A. (1988/2009). Making choices for multicultural education: Five approaches to race, class and gender (6th ed.). Wiley.

Sleeter, C. E., & McLaren, P., Eds. (1995). Multicultural education and critical pedagogy: The politics of difference. SUNY Press.




DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.14507/er.v27.3021

Education Review

A multilingual journal of book reviews

ISSN: 1094-5296