Making sense of difference? Teaching identities in postmodern contexts

Year: 2004

Author: Allard, Andrea, Santoro, Ninetta

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

How do teachers make sense of ethnic and classed differences? Frequently students from non- mainstream cultures and of lower socio-economic status are constructed in the literature and through practice as 'deficit' and consequently become marginalised. A range of short-term, 'quick fix' policy and curriculum approaches have aimed to address the 'problems' of those 'othered' from the mainstream due to their perceived difference. These have had little effect on improving educational results for students of specific ethnic and/or class backgrounds whose outcomes remain below the national average.

Postructural theories offer opportunities to think about how teachers are positioned within discourses of identity. Our research (and others') suggests the need for teachers to interrogate their assumptions about class and culture and how these are played out in their pedagogical relationships with students.

In this paper we report on a small research project that investigates the professional practices and personal beliefs of teachers. Empirical data from this study will build knowledge about how difference is constructed and diversity is 'taken up' by teachers as they engage with secondary students who have Language Backgrounds Other Than English and who are economically disadvantaged.