Haertling Thein, A., Beach, R., & Parks, D. (Nov. 2007) Perspective-taking as transformative practice in teaching multicultural literature to white students. English Journal, 97. Retrieved June 6, 2008, for ProQuest database.
An Annotation by Laurie Walsh
The authors state that teaching multicultural literature “must somehow be about changing students’ cultural perspectives and helping students to better understand their lives and the lives of those around them” (54). This is true for all literature – in my estimation! They state that we risk “simplifying and universalizing the complex experiences of discrimination and oppression” when we ask students to “relate to or empathize with unfamiliar characters and situations.” The researchers felt puzzled after their semester of research; white students reported they had come to new understandings about systematic oppression, race and social class. Ultimately, the researchers concede that change comes slowly, and through perspective taking, the students are being challenged and the seeds of change are planted. The article explores different instructional strategies to encourage perspective-taking: mind reading, drama and performance activities, discussion techniques (students adopt tentative hypotheses or hunches about the characters’ actions or perspective and students try on different perspectives by voicing broad prototypical perspectives rather than personal perspectives), and writing prompts.