Changing culture, changing practice: Overseas born teachers in Victoran educational contexts

Year: 2002

Author: Peeler, Eleanor

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The nature of teachers' work extends beyond the school to encompass social and political aspects of their lives. Migrant teachers who work in local educational contexts face vague, abstract, and culturally laden concepts often unfamiliar to them. Such knowledge embraces intuition, sentiments and values that are innate and unspoken within educational communities, and for migrant teachers new to this system of education it is unfamiliar, unknown and mysterious. In their teaching roles and in broader sociocultural contexts of their lives migrant teachers negotiate tensions between their former ways of knowing and acceptable local practice. Consequently their perceptions of selfhood as a person and as a teacher are in a constant state of flux as they navigate two systems of knowledge and undergo pressures to adapt.

This paper discusses the experiences of two migrant teachers and explores tensions in perceptions of their identity as a person, as a member of their educational community and as a teacher in both their former and current teaching contexts. It is part of a larger study that adopts narrative interview methodology to explore shifts in their self-perceptions, the changes that occur in their understandings, and the implications of these in their professional development.