Diversity Discourse and the Ontario Educator: The Understandings of Race and Whiteness Among New White Ontario Teachers
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As a recent teacher education graduate, I have been left with more questions than answers about how to create and maintain an equitable and antioppressive classroom. These complicated questions of equity laid the groundwork for this study, which explored how new teachers understood diversity, specifically whiteness, and how they connected these perceptions to their course-related experiences in their teacher education program. Using a qualitative approach, this study problematized the lack of critical discussions around diversity taking place in Ontario teacher education courses. Through purposive, homogenous sampling, 7 new Ontario educators participated in a semistructured interview that focused on their experiences as teacher candidates and new teachers and their understandings and ideas regarding diversity, race, and more specifically, whiteness. The findings suggest that the greater Canadian discourse surrounding multiculturalism impacts the everyday diversity talk of the participants, and that problematic ideas of acceptance and tolerance are common. The findings also show a strong discomfort and unfamiliarity among the participants with the terms whiteness and white privilege. Finally, the results also revealed that new teachers have limited experience in their teacher education to discuss and learn about diversity, particularly critical discussions about race and privilege. Through this investigation, I aimed to bring attention to the necessity of having these critical, albeit difficult, discussions around diversity and whiteness in order to support new, predominately white, teachers.