Abstract 7- Volume 4, Number 1, Spring 2009

Social Studies Research and Practice

Volume 4, Number 1, Spring 2009



Reframing the Disclosure Debate: Confronting Issues of Transparency in Teaching Controversial Content

Jennifer H. James
Kent State University


I contend that traditional ways of conceptualizing the “disclosure dilemma” are limited due to a lack of attention to the more subtle ways teachers’ personal experiences and understandings help shape their practices. The decision to “disclose” personal opinions on a controversial issue is, perhaps, less important than the exploration of what those personal opinions are and the degree of influence on pedagogy regardless of the decision to make those opinions public. In this way, disclosure can be understood as simply a willingness to be transparent about positionality with regard to the content being taught. As context for this conversation, I offer discussion of my experiences as an elementary social studies teacher educator in which I strived to engage such transparency as both method and content. In the end, I offer reflections about what is difficult, yet critically important about engaging in this work.

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About the Author(s)…

Jennifer James is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Teaching, Leadership & Curriculum Studies at Kent State University. Her research interests include understanding how teachers’ biographies and experiences impact who they become as educators, examining constructs of socialization and citizenship in schools, and asking critical questions about gender in social studies and teacher education.

Contact Information: Kent State University, 404E White Hall, Kent, OH 44242; Phone: (330) 672-0638; Email: jjames4@kent.edu.