We Carve the River by Propelling: An Intergenerational Narrative on the Influence of Texas Bilingual Policy on the Lives and Practices of Three Mexican-American Educators
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Throughout history, the disenfranchised and oppressed have rarely had a voice or their perspective validated. By utilizing the narrative as a means to make the findings more culturally relevant, it allowed the research to be creatively told using critical ethnography and autoethnography. This research delves into the lives of three bilingual education practitioners from an historiographical standpoint. The research questions are: (1) What does an ethnographic study of bilingual education policy as lived by three intergenerational practitioners tell us about the evolution of theory, practice, and politics? (2) How has my critical ontology and identity formation developed and been informed by pedagogy, practice, and activism throughout my educational journey? The data was collected from recorded interviews, reflections, biographies, personal conversations, pláticas, archival data, and articles. The data findings were presented within the narrative which was structured by the anatomy of story (Guajardo & Guajardo, 2010). Because story was part of the data collection, analysis and reflection of the data were embedded in relevant parts of the narrative. From the research findings, three connected themes emerged as being part of the integral discourse in the lives of the participants.
This dissertation is divided into five main chapters and concludes with an Appendix. Chapter one introduces the lives of the participants, particularly a glimpse into the life of the author prior to becoming a teacher. It also presents the two main research questions and gives the reader a map into what the journey ahead will look like as well as the purpose of the study. Chapter two discusses past language policy of Texas beginning at the turn of the century, past and current literature on bilingual education methods and pedagogy, and the significance of culturally relevant pedagogy. Chapter three discusses the hybrid of methods utilized including critical autoethnography, critical ethnography, storytelling, and also introduces us to the main participants of the study. This chapter also includes how anatomy of story is used to inform the study and how the various parts organically embedded themselves throughout the journey presented in chapter four. Chapter four uses story as a method to discuss, analyze, and reflect upon the findings in a creatively narrative form. Chapter five further analyzes the data and determines how the findings can be put into action at various levels by applying the ecologies of knowing (Guajardo, et al.).
The findings described how segregation led to racism and in turn informed the pedagogy and practices of policy-makers, educators, and society. Through reflective dialogue, the participants go on a journey to discover truths about themselves and about history untold. They dive deep into their own ontology and critically analyze how society and policy can push them to become stagnant or move forward. The pláticas revealed how desegregation remains a tool used by those in power to continue the disenfranchisement of the less powerful. Related to this, racism is also brought into the conversation as experienced by each of the participants and how it remains to be the fuel that maintains or changes policy to further disempower, in this case, bilingual educators and students. Further analysis notes how pedagogy and practice are informed by these policies. More importantly, it shows how they can become critical forms of empowerment. Utilizing the ecologies of knowing, we discuss further praxis to make changes within the self, organizations, and communities. An invitation is given to the reader to reflect and refract from this narrative and to go on their own journey of self-discovery that brings social justice and hope to those they serve.