Date of Award

4-2016

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Education

First Advisor

Penny Bryan

Second Advisor

Jim Brown

Third Advisor

Suzanne SooHoo

Fourth Advisor

Julye Bidmead

Abstract

Since Ashkenazi Jews in the United States are not a visible minority, it often becomes difficult to distinguish what/who is a Jew. As many Jewish females may appear to be of the dominant culture, they often get overlooked in discussions and courses on teacher education and multiculturalism/multicultural education. However, their identity as both Jewish and White and the absence of conversation regarding their multiple positions in education and in society can contest, as well as support, their connection to multiculturalism.

The purpose of this research was to identify how four middle class Ashkenazi females in the greater Los Angeles area understand their identities and experiences as Jews and as public school educators, how these multiple identities impact their perceptions of their pedagogy, and how these women navigate the structures of public schooling. Narrative Inquiry and Listening Guide method of analysis were utilized to present multilayered portraits of these women in order to challenge the status quo of the White female teacher identity and the positioning of Jewish females in regards to the perseverance of Christianity in public education.

Story threads emerged from the narratives which indicated that while Jewish identity is fluid and exists on a continuum over time, it was not a primary reason why these women became teachers. Although each woman made individual decisions regarding the degree to which her Jewishness was presented in the classroom and on campus, they did not actively design their curriculum due to them being Jewish; rather they unconsciously incorporated aspects of Judaism in their pedagogy.