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Politicians, professionals, or social justice activists? Schoolteachers in an Indian State

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Abstract:

Drawing on experiences of real schools and real teachers in the Indian State of West Bengal, this paper examines how teachers perceive and articulate their own professional challenges, responsibilities and freedoms, voice their demands and difficulties under which they work, and conceptualize quality teaching.

Based on ethnographic research and inspired by scholarly works in the micro-studies genre, this paper attempts to highlight the importance of the relatively under-studied ‘small’ details of the workings of the school system in understanding how the macro-edifice of educational planning, policy and administration is likely to fare in real terms. In particular, this study attempts to analyze the opinions, comments and self-reflections of schoolteachers revealed in our conversations with them.

No doubt perceptions and views of schoolteachers are influenced by larger structural forces, cultural ideas and social institutions. Also, their judgments may not be free from controversies and problems. But there are reasons, as we try to argue in the paper, to explore how the grassroots view can contribute to broader theorizing.

The paper argues that primary schoolteachers in West Bengal have been valorized as political activists and union leaders, but overshadowed as a professional cadre and that teachers’ diminished professional role has undermined their agency and ability to practice critical pedagogy for educating the subaltern classes. The paper concludes that teacher unions and networks have to extend their roles beyond protecting teachers’ rights to also work on enabling ‘ordinary’ teachers to internalize the twin ethos of professionalism and social justice activism. .
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Association:
Name: 55th Annual Conference of the Comparative and International Education Society
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http://www.cies.us


Citation:
URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p493839_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Majumdar, Manabi. "Politicians, professionals, or social justice activists? Schoolteachers in an Indian State" 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/p493839_index.html>

APA Citation:

Majumdar, M. , 2011-05-01 "Politicians, professionals, or social justice activists? Schoolteachers in an Indian State" 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/p493839_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: Drawing on experiences of real schools and real teachers in the Indian State of West Bengal, this paper examines how teachers perceive and articulate their own professional challenges, responsibilities and freedoms, voice their demands and difficulties under which they work, and conceptualize quality teaching.

Based on ethnographic research and inspired by scholarly works in the micro-studies genre, this paper attempts to highlight the importance of the relatively under-studied ‘small’ details of the workings of the school system in understanding how the macro-edifice of educational planning, policy and administration is likely to fare in real terms. In particular, this study attempts to analyze the opinions, comments and self-reflections of schoolteachers revealed in our conversations with them.

No doubt perceptions and views of schoolteachers are influenced by larger structural forces, cultural ideas and social institutions. Also, their judgments may not be free from controversies and problems. But there are reasons, as we try to argue in the paper, to explore how the grassroots view can contribute to broader theorizing.

The paper argues that primary schoolteachers in West Bengal have been valorized as political activists and union leaders, but overshadowed as a professional cadre and that teachers’ diminished professional role has undermined their agency and ability to practice critical pedagogy for educating the subaltern classes. The paper concludes that teacher unions and networks have to extend their roles beyond protecting teachers’ rights to also work on enabling ‘ordinary’ teachers to internalize the twin ethos of professionalism and social justice activism. .


Similar Titles:
Critical and Activist Educational Scholarship: Promoting Social Justice, Social Change, and Human Well Being

Learning by Doing: Teaching Qualitative Research for Social Justice. Pauline Jivanjee, Portland State University

Activist Paths: Indian Social Movements and Transnationalism in Historical Perspective


 
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