Theories and discussions around historical consciousness explore the myriad ways our identities and contexts shape our interpretations and understandings of the past. In this paper, narrative and historical consciousness will be used as a lens to understand the choices pre-service teachers make in the way they “define” America within their lectures. A total of 16 recorded 20-minute lectures from six social studies pre-service teachers were transcribed and coded for their insight into how these future teachers taught about America. Each of the pre-service teachers was white, between the ages of 20-25, considered (themselves) middle class, and were preparing to teach in the context of a conservative area. The researchers combined codes into three overall categories: “the Good,” or the purely positive aspects of American national identity identified in the lectures, the “Bad,” meaning the problematic aspects of life in America, and the “Ugly comparisons.” This final category refers to the times the preservice teachers lapsed into comparisons with other countries, often to define America positively in comparison with others. The researchers found that the pre-service teachers reinforced the American meta-narrative “quest for freedom” through the use of plots and word choices that reified the positive aspects of American History. While the lectures did include negative aspects about America, these were often “softened” through language that muted potential negative emotions. The authors argue that these were unconscious choices on the part of the students, and that conscious reflection on beliefs about America may help improve new teacher narratives.
Curry, Kristal and Horn, Suzanne
"America: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Comparisons: A Case Study of the Representation of “America” in Preservice Teacher Lectures,"
The Councilor: A National Journal of the Social Studies: Vol. 0:
1, Article 7.
Available at: https://thekeep.eiu.edu/the_councilor/vol0/iss1/7