Addressing 'race' ethnicity in Brazilian schools : a study of EFL teachers
Cultural plurality as a cross-curricular theme (CPCCT) is an issue that has been intensely discussed in recent times in Brazil, largely due to the implementation of new National Curriculum Parameters (PCN) in 1998. This study examines the ways in which English as a Foreign Language (EFL) teachers understand and address CPCCT, and more specifically 'race'/ethnicity in education. The background argument of my thesis is that unless teachers understand issues surrounding 'race'/ethnicity, CPCCT in schools will not be adequately addressed. As the 'myth of racial democracy' still holds much power in Brazil it is important to understand the context in which teachers work. This research is largely qualitative. Methods used to gather data included (i) a questionnaire, (ii) interviews, (iii) a workshop in which teachers developed materials on the theme of 'race'/ethnicity and (iv) classroom observation of these materials in use. This thesis uses the framework of Critical Race Theory (CRT) to examine teachers' accounts and practices. The use of CRT as an analytical tool was important because it clearly demonstrated the way that injustice and inequality related to 'race' occur in Brazil. My findings indicate that teachers' interpretations of CPCCT are very broad, and issues relating to 'race'/ethnicity are not often considered. The barriers that teachers face in their work environment contribute to them not addressing issues of 'race'/ethnicity in the classroom. Although, the experience of the workshop allowed teachers to reflect on the role of collaborative work, and most of them gained more confidence about teaching the issue of' race'/ethnicity, it was clear from the observations that most teachers reproduced rather than challenged existing social relations when they used the materials. Dealing with issues of 'race'/ethnicity in schools requires more than legislation, the provision of curriculum materials and teachers' commitment. Issues of pedagogy are crucial. The research demonstrates that unless teachers' professional development in the area of CPCCT is put in place, issues around 'race'/ethnicity will continue to be inadequately addressed.