Social Studies Research and Practice
Volume 6, Number 1, Spring 2011
Pedagogical Negotiations and Authentic Intellectual Work: A Phenomenological Examination of High School Teachers’ Experience
Christopher Andrew Brkich
Elizabeth Yeager Washington
University of Florida, Gainesville
This article focuses on the following questions: (1) How do secondary social studies teachers working in schools of color experience pedagogical negotiations when trying to teach students thoughtful, critically informed citizenship and government and school accountability mandates? and (2) How does teaching with lessons grounded in the principles of authentic intellectual work (AIW) affect this negotiation experience? We employed a phenomenological framework as the methodological basis for eliciting two classroom teachers’ experiences, both of whom have advanced degrees in social studies education and several years of teaching experience in schools of color and of poverty. The findings show that prior to the incorporation of lessons based on the principles of authentic intellectual work, these teachers’ negotiation experiences had strong negatively affective dimensions based on a zero-sum pedagogical conceptualization of curriculum. Following the introduction of lessons based on AIW, these negatively affective dimensions began to recede from their experiences and were replaced by more positive ones. Given that classroom teachers are the ultimate arbiters of curriculum in their classrooms, this research has implications for improving the experiences of secondary social studies teachers working in schools of color.