Internationally Educated Teachers in Atlantic Canada: Stories and Artwork That Problematize the Taken-for-Granted in Teacher Education
In this paper, I discuss recent arts-based research about internationally educated female teachers in the Atlantic Canadian context and possible implications for teacher education programs. Small groups of women who have immigrated to Atlantic Canada and who had been teachers in their countries of origin met to discuss the challenges they encountered in accessing the Canadian teaching profession. The arts-based research method involved sharing stories through writing and storytelling and responding to one another’s stories through visual art.
The particular focus of the paper is: How do the participants’ stories and artwork call taken-for-granted aspects of Canadian teacher education programs into question? And, what can we learn that can help us to reimagine teacher education within global migration and changing demographics? I draw on feminist poststructuralist theory (Davies, 2000; St. Pierre, 2000; Weedon 1997) to address such questions and to “read” the women’s stories and artwork. For example, a major theme that emerged from the research was concern about language, including English proficiency and “accent.” From a feminist poststructuralist perspective, language is never neutral; it is constitutive of subjectivity and of experience and exists in a reciprocal and dynamic relationship with its speakers. Some of the IETs’ stories demonstrate the ways in which hierarchical binaries among Englishes operate between ‘Canadian-born/’native’ Englishes and ‘non-native’ Englishes (see Amin, 2005) and also among ‘non-native’ Englishes. Their experiences call into question what ‘English’ can mean in teacher education. What are the implications for our practices?
Keywords: Internationally Educated Teachers, Feminist Poststructuralist Theory, Arts-Based Research, Teacher Education
Dr. Susan Walsh
Assistant Professor, Faculty of Education, Mount Saint Vincent University