Navigating Controversial Topics: A Qualitative Study of High School English Teachers in the Live Free or Die State

Loading...
Thumbnail Image
Date
2022-05-06
Keywords
divisive concepts, literacy skills, engagement, young adult literature, diverse or multicultural literature.
Authors
Gigliello, Heather
Description
AN ABSTRACT OF THE DISSERTATION OF Heather A. Gigliello for the degree of Doctor of Education Presented on March 14, 2022 Title: Navigating Controversial Topics: A Qualitative Study of High School English Teachers in the Live Free or Die State Abstract approved: _______________________________________________________ Suzanne Gaulocher, Ph.D., Dissertation Committee Chair The purpose of this study was to understand the influence the Right to Freedom from Discrimination in Public Workplaces and Education (Right to Freedom) law has had on New Hampshire public high school English teachers. This study explores how the onset of this law may cause teachers to avoid diverse and multicultural literature in their curriculum and leave out discussing topics such as racism and sexism. In order to hear directly from New Hampshire’s teachers, a phenomenological qualitative research study was conducted. A theoretical framework based on constructivist and engagement theories was developed to help understand the role controversial, contemporary, and young adult literature play in English curricula. Key informant interviews were conducted with 18 participants, each from different public school districts across the five regions of New Hampshire. Using a grounded theory approach, codes were created through analysis resulting in seven themes. The results from this study showed that although the Right to Freedom law did influence nearly every participant’s attitude, the extent of that influence varied, sometimes drastically. Further, the degree to which the law influenced instruction and curriculum choices and alterations were even more varied in terms of what texts and discussions were omitted. Findings from this study have the potential to inform school districts and communities about the impact the Right to Freedom law has on instruction, curriculum, and teacher attitudes in the state of New Hampshire and other states with similar divisive concepts laws.
Identifier