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Critical friendship as vital to the development of RPCK

Elizabeth C. Barrow (Department of Middle Grades and Secondary Education, College of Education, Georgia Southern University, Statesboro, Georgia, USA)
Taylor Norman (Department of Middle Grades and Secondary Education, College of Education, Georgia Southern University, Statesboro, Georgia, USA)

Social Studies Research and Practice

ISSN: 1933-5415

Article publication date: 3 May 2022

Issue publication date: 24 August 2022




The purpose of this manuscript is to reveal how a White social studies teacher educator attempted to go from being a non-racist educator to an anti-racist educator (King and Chandler, 2016) and build her racial pedagogical content knowledge (RPCK).


This manuscript is on part of a collaborative self-study. The authors used critical friendship (Schuck and Russell, 2005) and RPCK as the conceptual framework. The authors used self-study research methodology to analyze and interrogate analytical reflections, course syllabi, and course assignments. All data were analyzed through intentional and analytical dialogue over the course of weekly debriefs and three formal debriefing sessions.


Findings from this study indicate that while stressful and challenging at times, the critical friendship with Taylor was vital in developing her RPCK. The friendship liberated and brought voice to her traditional, racialized self through intentional and analytic dialogue. This dialogue benefited the curricular review she was conducting on her content methods course to develop and integrate RPCK to her pedagogical mind.

Research limitations/implications

The authors show that critical friendships can transform definitions of self and pedagogical practice. If social studies teacher educators are going to do the work of anti-racism, then it is our suggestion that they form a critical friendship to support their self-growth and pedagogical intentions before suggesting pedagogical innovations.

Practical implications

This paper includes visual representation of RPCK that will allow other social studies teacher educators to teach the concept to their students. It also provides a framework to support others who want to work on their RPCK and racialized self.


This manuscript fulfills a need in the field by highlighting how a teacher educator can leverage a critical friendship to describe and reveal the enactment and analysis of balancing the self and practice regarding RPCK development. Visual representations of the conceptualization of RPCK are included.



The authors would like to thank their colleagues and friends for their comments and suggestions on an earlier draft of this manuscript. The authors could not have done the work without their critical writing group!


Barrow, E.C. and Norman, T. (2022), "Critical friendship as vital to the development of RPCK", Social Studies Research and Practice, Vol. 17 No. 2, pp. 167-182.



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