Working Difference: Public School Teachers and the Non-Citizen Student

Year: 2018

Author: Bright, David

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This paper examines the ways teachers work with difference amidst the internationalisation of public schools. With internationalisation initiatives such as International Student Programs (ISPs) positioned as strategies to both prepare international students for the local, and prepare globally ready local students, teachers’ work is modulated by different understandings of how learning and teaching are implicated in producing and managing difference.
The distinction and differentiation between local and international students is fundamental to the schools and teachers involved in ISPs, with teachers’ work constructed across two axes in relation to this difference. On the first, teaching is concerned with ameliorating the difference that is ascribed to international students, positioned essentially as English language deficit but also implying the social and cultural behaviours needed to succeed in Australian schools, societies and workplaces. On the second, teachers’ work involves ‘persuading’ local students to encounter the difference of international students differently, engaging with international students as an opportunity to develop the kinds of cross- or inter-cultural knowledge and skills that are positioned as vital in a globalised world.
This paper draws upon theories of difference and identity to critically explore how difference is constructed and understood across the ISP, considering the changing nature of teachers’ work and exploring how teachers respond to the increasing internationalisation of public schools.