Ellen Lin

Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department or School

Teacher Education

Committee Member

Christopher Robbins, PhD

Committee Member

Pamela K. Smith, PhD

Committee Member

Paul J. Ramsey, PhD


This autoethnographic research follows my personal and professional experiences as an elementary teacher reflecting upon the travails and joys that come with journeying toward a more liberating pedagogy and democratic experience along with first grade students. Braced with Freire’s 1970 summoning to resist dehumanization in society and education, I have pursued with disappointment existing democratic and humanizing trails in schools. Excited to exit one district and move to another known as “exceptional” in the region, I found myself even more limited by a tightly controlled system. Unwilling to give up hope, I began in my second year to infuse more unmasked efforts toward democratic and critical pedagogy. The accompanying transformation of my intellectual, professional, and personal growth has resulted in even more hope and conviction about the possibility of public schooling in the US, and I move forward with renewed gusto.