Teacher values and ethnicity as a factor in interdisciplinary team curriculum planning

Geraldine Gregg, Fordham University


American schools have responded to societal changes and to the changing needs of students in many ways. One of the most lauded ways of creating a more responsive school environment has been the establishment of interdisciplinary school teams. The interdisciplinary team, as the name suggests, is a combination of teachers from different subject areas who plan and conduct instruction for particular groups of students. This study evolved out of a desire to understand what transpires during the deliberative planning of interdisciplinary teams and the possible effects that the hidden curriculum may have on both the deliberations and on the presentation of the themes decided upon. The study was conducted at a school that was chosen because of its reputation as an exemplary middle school. With the assistance of the principal, two teams were chosen. One team was from the Dawn Academy (ethnically homogeneous); the other was from the Imago School (ethnically diverse). The sample consisted of 16 primary participants. Additionally, two assistant principals, an arts coordinator, and a parent volunteer were formally interviewed. The data were collected using the qualitative research technique known as triangulation. This multiple method of data collection includes interviews, observations, and documentation. The data from the study were integrated with analysis of the same data using the theoretical and empirical method of naturalistic inquiry. This design reflects the qualitative paradigm that argues for ongoing analysis in the field. The research resulted in six major findings: (a) teaming allows teachers to develop a consensus regarding the fundamental purposes of schooling; (b) there can be no substantial change unless teachers are given time to engage in dialogue, inquiry, critique, evaluation, and support; (c) even when teachers agree on the fundamental purposes of schooling, their individual knowledge, beliefs, values, and concerns allow them to interpret and demonstrate these understandings in different ways; (d) genuine teacher collaboration allows pedagogues to reflect on their own instructional practices; (e) administrative support is a critical element in any change effort; (f) hidden agendas and instances of reverse racism will block substantial change efforts.

Subject Area

School administration|Curricula|Teaching|Minority & ethnic groups|Sociology|Secondary education

Recommended Citation

Gregg, Geraldine, "Teacher values and ethnicity as a factor in interdisciplinary team curriculum planning" (1997). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9824342.