Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Education/Leadership in Urban Schools

First Advisor

Patricia Krueger-Henney

Second Advisor

Tricia M. Kress

Third Advisor

Denise Patmon


Institutionalized education practices sort students: overtly based on age and skills, and more subtly based on race and socioeconomic status. Students rarely have a say in how they are educated and are seldom asked to reflect on their educational journey. This study asked how students would respond to currere (Pinar, 2015), a type of educational autobiography. It investigated how students might analyze their own course of education and whether that process would influence their choices for continuing education beyond high school. The currere was assigned to 59 eleventh-grade students. A sample of 11 curreres representing a diversity of gender, ethnicity, and enrollment in Advanced Placement or standard English language arts (ELA) classes was analyzed utilizing interpretive phenomenological analysis (IPA) (Chien, Davis, Slattery, Keeney-Kennicutt, & Hammer, 2013). A convenience sample of five students was interviewed for additional insight.

Students tended to view their early educational experiences positively. Many students identified a single event that for a period of time hindered them from making progress in the educational system. Two major findings emerged. First, students in general seemed to be looking for freedom when sharing their thoughts and ideas, and this freedom extended to the very language they utilized. The second finding indicated that high school students were looking for teachers to support them in ways best described as “love in education.” This love takes the form of setting high standards, expressing a deep care for students, and, most importantly, listening to and hearing students’ voices.


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