Thomas M Philip

Thomas M PhilipThomas M Philip

My research is focused on the relationship between ideology, particularly racial ideology, and the work of teachers. My scholarly work is comprised of two major strands of research. In the first strand, I explore how teachers make sense of the purpose and nature of their work in a society where competing ideologies emerge from, reproduce, and challenge systems of power. This area of research focuses on processes of ideological change in teachers within formal learning contexts such as teacher education programs and teacher professional development. The second theme in my research engages a corollary question: how does the larger ideological context influence teaching and learning and how might teachers engage in re-shaping the ideologies that partially enable and constrain their work. This line of research explores how commonly invoked discourses in policy, research, and practice, particularly about the use of new digital technologies and cutting-edge STEM content, impact the substance and manner of teaching in ways that often narrow the democratic purpose of schooling.

Distinct to both strands of my research, I work at the productive tensions between theories of ideology and learning. I leverage empirical and analytical techniques from the learning sciences, particularly cognitive theories of conceptual change and sociocultural theories of identity, to study questions of ideology and ideological change. In doing so, I highlight significant individual and interactional processes that are often glossed over in social theory and cultural studies approaches to ideology. At the same time, fields of study, such as belief change, attitudinal change, and identity development, have focused extensively on the individual and interactional processes that lead to change in how people think about prejudice and bias. Such approaches, however, often erase the historical, social, political, and economic contexts of power in which change and development occur – contexts that are brought to the forefront when such phenomena are studied through the lens of ideology.

My publications can be found here: