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Framework to Guide Book Discussions (Garlough & Carrothers, 2017) based on Howard’s (2016) work. Howard encourages teachers to try to understand the nature of dominance as authentically as they can. His text was written to help White teachers who teach in multi-ethnic schools but we believe that this framework can be used by all teachers. 

Howard suggests approaching the racial healing through four elements:

1. Honesty-  For White teachers the "assumption of rightness" and the "luxury of ignorance" are both challenged by an honest approach. We must learn to question our own assumptions and acknowledge what we have been preconditioned to understand and believe is likely not the same for everyone. We must realize and admit that there is much we do not know-- and our only access to knowing is through listening (and believing) the experience of others (also known as "wisdom). It is through honesty that we can see the limitation of knowledge and realize that those in the privileged groups have had the unconsidered advantage of rarely being hungry, or seen as suspicious, or been the sole representative of a group in a room, or seen a person killed. It is also through this honesty that we can then promote some stories of wisdom to be included in the curricular knowledge (i.e. teaching various perspectives on history, adding global literature, teaching about inequality as something that still occurs).

2. Empathy- Means "to feel with" and requires us to focus our attention on the perspective and worldview of another person. Empathy requires more than just a "guess" as to what it feels like, it requires a reflexive role-taking where you imagine what it would be like to be someone in a given position. So while a young teacher may have no idea what it is like to be a Hindu child in a predominantly Christian school, they likely have the ability to recall what it was like at some point in their life where they felt like an outsider because of what they thought or believed. From there, it's a matter of listening to the wisdom of those who have experienced that specific challenge to bridge the gap between teacher and student, or between our own realities and those represented in literature. Those in the dominant culture  can step outside the dominant position and see their own position in a new light. This allows dominant culture people to better gauge appropriate responses to racial issues. 

3. Advocacy- Once honestly assessing positions of privilege and ignorance, and developing empathy, people of the dominant culture may now start to work on behalf of underrepresented people. Advocacy can take a variety of forms from encouraging the inclusion of diversity in  lessons, to inviting underrepresented people into circles of power (thereby given them access to decision makers), to encouraging other privileged people to take honest inventories about race. It is through acts of advocacy that structural changes may start to occur, thereby leveling the playing field.

4. Action- The final piece of the framework is action in which we actively work to assure that the dominance that exists (and ultimately caused these problems) is eradicated.

"We are not responsible for having been born White, but we are responsible for how we respond to racism and dominance in our schools and communities today (Kivel, 2011)."


Garlough, D. K. and Carrothers, R. M. (2017). Moving the Race/Culture Discussion Forward in Classrooms: Using Picture Books to Promote Wisdom, Ohio Journal of Teacher Education, vol. 31,1.

Howard, G. R. (2016). We can’t teach what we don’t know: White teachers, multiracial schools (3rd ed.). New York: Teachers College Press.



The following links allow you to access pre-service teachers' essays taken from their work as they prepare to teach all children well. These essays are not research papers, and represent the views of the authors. 


The Importance of Teacher Read-Alouds by Brittany Tomson


Student Essays

Teacher Read-Aloud by Brittany Tomson