The influence of teacher identities on teachers’ perspectives towards the incoming Dual Language Policy in Abu Dhabi secondary schools

Pattisson, Y Joy (2014) The influence of teacher identities on teachers’ perspectives towards the incoming Dual Language Policy in Abu Dhabi secondary schools. Doctoral thesis (EdD), University of Sussex.

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As part of an extensive education reform programme, Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC) is currently introducing a Dual Language Policy (DLP) in which English, maths and science are to be taught fully through the medium of English while other subjects are taught through Arabic with the goal of producing biliterate school graduates. The DLP has already been implemented in Grades 1-6 and it is hoped that it will be migrated into secondary schools by 2015.

The success of any major educational policy innovation is dependent on professional support at many levels, including that of teachers. For this reason it is important to explore teachers’ perspectives of the policy and how the policy might be in alignment or conflict with their professional identities. This study has adopted a discursive understanding of identity and a post structural theoretical framework. Using semi-structured interviews, observations and documentary analysis, this study sought firstly to explore the primary discourses which shape Emirati female secondary school maths teachers’ professional identities. It then identified their perspectives on the DLP before exploring how their identities explained these perspectives.

The research found that the importance of childhood experiences in education, gendered roles, Islam, professional roles, relationships with students and their perspectives of society’s view of them as secondary maths teachers were key aspects of participants’ professional identities. It also found that teachers had fragmented identities resulting in mixed perspectives on the DLP. In some regard, this resulted in positivity towards the policy although simultaneously they felt their identities were threatened by it, causing them to view its implementation with caution. These threats were clustered around three main areas relating to pedagogic beliefs, their work ethic and linguistic and nationalistic discourses.

A significant finding of this study was that the participants held differing views regarding the principles behind the DLP. Some teachers had accepted the policy ideologically, having adopted a position which assumed the neutrality of English, while others expressed strong views against the encroachment of English in education and society more generally. Nevertheless, there was agreement across the participants that while English was necessary in 21st century Abu Dhabi, it must remain a second language. While this is the stated intention of the DLP, teachers expressed limited awareness of how Arabic is being protected and promoted by ADEC, causing further animosity towards the policy.

By adopting a post structural position, this research demonstrates the complexity of the situation as teachers find themselves caught in the intersection of multiple, and often conflicting, discourses. It shows that contrary to the prevailing belief, teachers are neither powerless nor passive but are exercising their power, at the micro level, through acts of negotiation, resistance and subversion. By drawing attention to these teachers’ discursive positionings, ‘framing discourses’, such as those related to patriarchy, Islam and linguistic imperialism, are highlighted. These are shown to both shut down and open up possibilities of being (Keddie, 2011), emphasizing the limited space these subjects have to manoeuvre in.

By exploring the construct of teacher identities in the Emirati context and relating it to the practical aspect of policy implementation, this study aims to highlight its relevance to education reform and contribute to a gap in the field. It is hoped that through this, teacher identity will become a more significant part of the educational discourse in this region, disrupting the continued epistemic privilege of Western-informed views of education.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Education and Social Work > Education
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1603 Secondary education. High schools
L Education > LG Individual institutions (Asia. Africa. Oceania) > LG021 Asia > LG395 Other
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 20 Oct 2014 05:42
Last Modified: 25 Sep 2015 13:41

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