“When You Carry All of Your Baggage With You … You’re Carrying All of Your Baggage With You”: Identifying and Interrupting Equity Traps in Preservice Teachers’ Narratives

  • James R. Carlson University of Wisconsin - La Crosse
Keywords: Privilege, Teaching, Research, Race, Education, Tools, Strategies,


The purpose of this paper is to identify common equity traps in the narrative accounts of white preservice teachers at Great Lakes University (GLU).   In this article, I outline common “equity traps,” or patterns of thinking, that serve to impede the achievement of equity in schooling.  In addition to situating two specific equity traps within the narrative accounts of white preservice teachers, I outline possibilities for interrupting these traps. As a way to respond to inequitable schooling conditions, I argue it is necessary to identify recurrent problematic perceptions held by preservice teachers and to root these beliefs institutionally as uncritical assumptions that privilege whiteness. I conclude this paper with a discussion of the tasks for teachers and teacher educators in predominantly white institutions who struggle to advance understandings about power, privilege, and prestige while destabilizing and eliminating equity traps.

Author Biography

James R. Carlson, University of Wisconsin - La Crosse
James R. Carlson is an Assistant Professor of Content Area Literacy in the Department of Educational Studies at the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse.