Chronicle of a dys-appearance: an autoethnography of a teacher in conflict

Doctoral Thesis


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University of Cape Town

With the growth in number of international schools from the 50 identified in 1964 to the current 5,000 international schools worldwide with an associated teaching staff of 250,000 predicted to grow to 10,000 and 500,000 respectively by 2020, the international school is an increasingly prominent sector of education. Yet despite this standing what is known about how international schools discipline and silence their dissenting teachers is negligible. Metaphorically speaking, the problem is that the "black box" of teacher control and correction remains firmly closed in the international school domain. The aim of this study is to open up the "black box" as it were, to use my experiences as an educator to shed some light on how organisational structures and the people working within them can disempower, silence and discipline a dissenting teacher. Although I have used autoethnography as methodology the study is not purely autoethnographic but rather a bricolage of methods that through conceptual enquiries of a philosophical nature (on the emotions, ethics etc.) deepen not only my narrative research but also my understanding of the issues. Engaging with these diverse philosophical analyses has taken me from questions of essence that focused on a Cartesian understanding of difference and conflict ( us/them; cause/effect ; guilt/innocence; darkness/light) to a posthumanist stance on both and questions of how conflict can be understood as emergent from intra-actions between apparatuses of material-discursive practices, conditions both social and material. For conflicts are collisions head on, to the accompaniment of squealing brakes and breaking glass. And it is important to understand not why but how such collisions occur if we are to avoid, prevent, or resolve them ethically. As such I hope that this study contributes to studies on conflict by showing how discourses, material conditions, affect, and power can converge to produce situations with serious consequences for those involved.

Includes bibliographical references