Teaching About ‘Race’ and Racism in Civic Education: An Examination of the Challenges and Promise Tied to Existing Teaching
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Although the Dutch tend to see themselves as color-blind and anti-racist, the workings of ‘race’ and racism continue to impact Dutch society (Wekker, 2016). In order to transform this reality, active efforts to make visible – and combat – the workings of ‘race’ and racism are needed. This thesis explores Dutch secondary schools as sites in which such efforts may be made, zeroing in on teaching about ‘race’ and racism in civic education (‘maatschappijleer’). The central question that this thesis examines is: how do civic education teachers navigate teaching about ‘race’ and racism at Dutch mixed secondary schools, and how might critical approaches to (teaching about) ‘race’ and racism be used as a lens to examine the challenges and promise tied to existing teaching about ‘race’ and racism in civic education? In order to establish how civic education teachers navigate teaching about ‘race’ and racism, interviews were conducted with six civic education teachers who teach at different mixed secondary schools in Rotterdam and Amsterdam. A thematic analysis was performed in order to analyze the interview data and construct an overview of how teachers navigate various factors in teaching about ‘race’ and racism and the challenges that teachers face therein. Subsequently, this thesis’ theoretical lens, primarily consisting of critical race, postcolonial, and anti-racist contributions regarding (teaching about) ‘race’ and racism, was employed to examine the challenges and the promise tied to current teaching about ‘race’ and racism in civic education. Ultimately, this thesis’ main contributions lie in offering a deeper understanding of the challenges that civic education teachers face in teaching about ‘race’ and racism and presenting various possible ways forward for teachers seeking to teach about ‘race’ and racism in a critical, anti-racist manner that are both practice-based and theoretically grounded.