Excavating childhoods’ layers: an ethnographic dig into inequities of race, class, and literacies

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I write as an ethnographer of childhoods and literacies toshare a critical methodological lesson I have learned: simply observing children in educational settings will not yield rich understandings of the inequities arising from the interplay of societal constructs of race, class, and gender. Such understandings require ethnographic digs, analogous to those of geologists and archeologists. Surface level educational happenings must be situated in institutional, geographic, and ideological landscapes, both historical and sociopolitical. These foundational layers echo in both formal and informal school practices, including those of peers. To illustrate, I draw on data from a 4-year case study of Ta’Von, a Black child in a white-majority elementary school; I focus on his experiences in ‘the achievement gap.’ Those experiences, reverberating with local racialized history, suggest that inclusive schools require, not fixing children to eliminate a gap, but fixing the taken-for-granted assumptions and practices of schools.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)49-66
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Studies in Sociology of Education
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 2022


  • Ethnographic
  • childhoods
  • literacy
  • race

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • General Social Sciences


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