Learning to Live”: The Promise of Politically Relevant Teaching towards the Holistic Development of “Our” Children
Maxine McKinney de Royston

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship

Award Year



University of California, Berkeley

Primary Discipline

Curriculum and Instruction
Discussions around educational gaps and debts point to the pernicious patterns of racial inequities (Hilliard, 2003; Ladson Billings, 2006; Noguera, 2003), yet most reforms do not explicitly address the role of race or racism in schools and classrooms. This study examines three racially heterogeneous middle schools’ attempts to alter school culture as a means to upend racialized outcomes. Using whole-school and classroom observations, parent and teacher interviews, and student interviews and surveys, this study unpacks the reform philosophies and enactments of a “politically relevant” approach. Preliminary findings suggest that the educators at these schools attempt to deal with racism by: 1) educating the “whole child”—i.e. developing students’ academically, culturally, emotionally, physically, and socially; and 2) reconstructing schooling practices like discipline and tracking, as well as more invisible dimensions of schooling that interplay with student well being and academic success such as teacher-student relationships and teacher’s conceptions of work. This study introduces a model for evaluating reforms—environmental and pedagogical—that seek to address racism and related inequities, and adds empirically to our understanding of the possibilities and tensions of embracing the political relevancy of students’ achievement and comprehensive development.
About Maxine McKinney de Royston

Pin It on Pinterest