Wayfaring: A phenomenology of international teacher education

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Thesis type
(Thesis) Ph.D.
Date created
Becoming human is at the heart of education worth the while. In an age of accountability, tensions arise between teachers, parents, and policy makers, each of whom express markedly different ideas of what is most educationally worthwhile. It is in teacher education programs, however, where I suggest that becoming human can be cultivated with a variety of ends in mind and where the overriding aim can be to enliven a more socially just world. I propose that international placements provide unique opportunities for fostering the kind of teacher identity formation that puts pedagogical relationality at the forefront of our personal, interpersonal, and social commitments. I seek to understand how international practica are experienced by student teachers. What unique characteristics, formative of pedagogical practices, does an international teacher education placement for pre-service teachers in Oaxaca, Mexico, offer? Participant responses and my own stories reveal the phenomenon of discomfort as pedagogically transformative. Weaving these stories together as an account of teacher ‘wayfaring,’ I show how the discomfort experienced internationally can be very different from the way it is experienced in local and familiar teaching contexts. Discomfort in international teacher education ‘wayfaring’ offers the very possibilities for pedagogical growth that are in keeping with the fuller human becoming of students whose lives these novice teachers will touch.This phenomenological study contributes to the conversation about the importance of international placements in teacher education and the understandings gained have implications for programs locally and internationally. It addresses the tension expressed by those who describe their international placement as “the hardest” and “the best thing I’ve ever done.” I transpose dispositional leanings and learnings from time spent with a cohort of student teachers in Oaxaca, Mexico to the local settings in which I, as a school principal, am working in British Columbia. My commitment to phenomenological inquiry and a lean into discomfort have rejuvenated my liveliness and life practices as a traveller, educator, and researcher. Beginning teachers who embrace discomfort also learn that disruptions may well indicate something worth the while is happening that is worth leaning into. Their wayfaring can be pedagogically transformative.
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Supervisor or Senior Supervisor
Thesis advisor: Smith, Stephen
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