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GROUP 1. Pedagogues of Possibility? Primary educators and their role in curriculum reform in post-conflict Timor-Leste

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Abstract:

In Timor-Leste little is actually known about teacher practices and perceptions and its relationship to government plans for educational transformation. Even less is known about the motivations and drivers behind teachers’ work and the aspirations they hold for their own students. It was this knowledge gap that my research intended to fill. As part of a PhD supervised by Associate Professor Eve Coxon at the University of Auckland, the aim of my project was to broadly understand the lived experiences, perspectives and practices of a cross-section of Timorese primary teachers. Specifically my objectives were to gauge:
1. The beliefs about teaching and learning that primary teachers have and whether or not they are evident in classroom practice;
2. The beliefs about teaching and learning and levels of reported self-confidence held by teachers in several domains of classroom practice—and how well these perceptions align with actual actions and behaviours in the classroom;
3. Teachers’ assessments of their school environments and the perceived impacts it has on their work.

In fragile state environments such as Timor-Leste, teachers cannot be presupposed to be willing agents of reform, but rather must be understood as dynamic factors impacting on the efficacy of such efforts (Al-Daami & Wallace, 2007; Vongalis-Macrow, 2006). While political and donor will for such change may be high, the actual institutional and organisational capacity to bring about such a transformation is usually weak in such contexts (Rose & Greeley, 2006). A long line of research indicates that in the absence of strong state presence in local schools and communities, teachers become central actors in either implementing or resisting reform (Fuller, 1991; Tawil & Harley, 2004).

Recent scholars have suggested that that these roles be more critically examined in post-conflict settings, particularly if the aim is to ensure an experience of schooling which is protective, promotes student well-being, and supports processes of conflict amelioration and long term national reconstruction (Davies & Talbot, 2008; Kirk, 2008; Kirk & Winthrop, 2008; Shriberg, Kirk, & Winthrop, 2007; Tebbe, 2009). To date there is little understanding of teachers’ own self-perceptions in such times; namely of their hopes and expectations in reshaping the future, and of the possible supports and constraints they face in such moments. Teacher self-image and agency play an important role in delivering an education that is transformative (Kirk, 2008; Kirk & Winthrop, 2007; Winthrop & Kirk, 2007). Rather than divorce teachers from the influence they have on critical reforms, this research project aims to situate these individuals as the main actors in the theatre of reform.

To accomplish my research objectives, data was collected between March and July 2010 in the following forms:
• Primary teachers survey: A survey, developed in English and translated into Tetum was constructed. In total, 719 primary teachers, across four regions of the country participated in the survey This survey has since been analysed quantitatively in SPSS, and comparisons of mean scores (using ANOVA) by a number of demographic characteristics completed.
• Classroom observations: Following on the survey, observations of teacher practice were conducted in 42 different primary classrooms, varying in length between 40 minutes and one hour. During this time, detailed notes were kept on what the teacher and student were doing, as well as comments/annotations about my perceptions of what was occurring at that time.
• Focus groups: All of the teachers who had been observed participated in focus groups to allow them to articulate their perceptions and beliefs, based on a series of four different tasks. The tasks were centred on the following four topics:
o The qualities of a professional teacher
o What is the purpose of “learning” for their students?
o The strengths and weaknesses of their particular school
o How they would help a struggling students
• Interviews: Head teachers from each of the schools where observations were conducted, and representatives from the Ministry of Education were also interviewed. They were asked to comment on some of the above topics.

Based on the data collected, I hope to argue that: (1) notions of professionalism as teachers is socially constructed in the Timorese context and often contextually determined; (2) teachers espoused actions are radically different from their actions in use; (3) to change classroom practices requires recognition of the complexity of identity and professional constructions in Timor-Leste, as in other fragile state contexts.

At this stage, I am completing analysis of the data collected and by the time of the conference expect to be in the beginning writing stages of the dissertation.
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Association:
Name: 55th Annual Conference of the Comparative and International Education Society
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http://www.cies.us


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URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p492548_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Shah, Ritesh. "GROUP 1. Pedagogues of Possibility? Primary educators and their role in curriculum reform in post-conflict Timor-Leste" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 55th Annual Conference of the Comparative and International Education Society, Fairmont Le Reine Elizabeth, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, May 01, 2011 <Not Available>. 2014-11-26 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p492548_index.html>

APA Citation:

Shah, R. , 2011-05-01 "GROUP 1. Pedagogues of Possibility? Primary educators and their role in curriculum reform in post-conflict Timor-Leste" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 55th Annual Conference of the Comparative and International Education Society, Fairmont Le Reine Elizabeth, Montreal, Quebec, Canada <Not Available>. 2014-11-26 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p492548_index.html

Publication Type: CIES New Scholar Fellow Proposal
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: In Timor-Leste little is actually known about teacher practices and perceptions and its relationship to government plans for educational transformation. Even less is known about the motivations and drivers behind teachers’ work and the aspirations they hold for their own students. It was this knowledge gap that my research intended to fill. As part of a PhD supervised by Associate Professor Eve Coxon at the University of Auckland, the aim of my project was to broadly understand the lived experiences, perspectives and practices of a cross-section of Timorese primary teachers. Specifically my objectives were to gauge:
1. The beliefs about teaching and learning that primary teachers have and whether or not they are evident in classroom practice;
2. The beliefs about teaching and learning and levels of reported self-confidence held by teachers in several domains of classroom practice—and how well these perceptions align with actual actions and behaviours in the classroom;
3. Teachers’ assessments of their school environments and the perceived impacts it has on their work.

In fragile state environments such as Timor-Leste, teachers cannot be presupposed to be willing agents of reform, but rather must be understood as dynamic factors impacting on the efficacy of such efforts (Al-Daami & Wallace, 2007; Vongalis-Macrow, 2006). While political and donor will for such change may be high, the actual institutional and organisational capacity to bring about such a transformation is usually weak in such contexts (Rose & Greeley, 2006). A long line of research indicates that in the absence of strong state presence in local schools and communities, teachers become central actors in either implementing or resisting reform (Fuller, 1991; Tawil & Harley, 2004).

Recent scholars have suggested that that these roles be more critically examined in post-conflict settings, particularly if the aim is to ensure an experience of schooling which is protective, promotes student well-being, and supports processes of conflict amelioration and long term national reconstruction (Davies & Talbot, 2008; Kirk, 2008; Kirk & Winthrop, 2008; Shriberg, Kirk, & Winthrop, 2007; Tebbe, 2009). To date there is little understanding of teachers’ own self-perceptions in such times; namely of their hopes and expectations in reshaping the future, and of the possible supports and constraints they face in such moments. Teacher self-image and agency play an important role in delivering an education that is transformative (Kirk, 2008; Kirk & Winthrop, 2007; Winthrop & Kirk, 2007). Rather than divorce teachers from the influence they have on critical reforms, this research project aims to situate these individuals as the main actors in the theatre of reform.

To accomplish my research objectives, data was collected between March and July 2010 in the following forms:
• Primary teachers survey: A survey, developed in English and translated into Tetum was constructed. In total, 719 primary teachers, across four regions of the country participated in the survey This survey has since been analysed quantitatively in SPSS, and comparisons of mean scores (using ANOVA) by a number of demographic characteristics completed.
• Classroom observations: Following on the survey, observations of teacher practice were conducted in 42 different primary classrooms, varying in length between 40 minutes and one hour. During this time, detailed notes were kept on what the teacher and student were doing, as well as comments/annotations about my perceptions of what was occurring at that time.
• Focus groups: All of the teachers who had been observed participated in focus groups to allow them to articulate their perceptions and beliefs, based on a series of four different tasks. The tasks were centred on the following four topics:
o The qualities of a professional teacher
o What is the purpose of “learning” for their students?
o The strengths and weaknesses of their particular school
o How they would help a struggling students
• Interviews: Head teachers from each of the schools where observations were conducted, and representatives from the Ministry of Education were also interviewed. They were asked to comment on some of the above topics.

Based on the data collected, I hope to argue that: (1) notions of professionalism as teachers is socially constructed in the Timorese context and often contextually determined; (2) teachers espoused actions are radically different from their actions in use; (3) to change classroom practices requires recognition of the complexity of identity and professional constructions in Timor-Leste, as in other fragile state contexts.

At this stage, I am completing analysis of the data collected and by the time of the conference expect to be in the beginning writing stages of the dissertation.


Similar Titles:
Reform and Reconstruction: Post-Conflict Education in South Africa, Northern Ireland and Sierra Leone

Pedagogues of possibility? The identities, struggles, and perceptions of primary teachers in Timor-Leste

Can education convergence theory explain post-conflict educational reforms?


 
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