Cross-Cultural Interpretations of Curricular Contextual Crossings

By Schlein, Candace; Garii, Barbara | Issues in Teacher Education, Fall 2011 | Go to article overview

Cross-Cultural Interpretations of Curricular Contextual Crossings


Schlein, Candace, Garii, Barbara, Issues in Teacher Education


The North American teaching population continuously fails to reflect student populations, especially school populations located in global and non-dominant communities. Public school students are increasingly likely to be of non-hegemonic cultures, such as those defined by class, national backgrounds, and home languages (Statistics Canada, 2007; United States Census Bureau, 2003), while teachers continually come from White, middle class backgrounds (Cochran- Smith & Zeichner, 2005a). Consequently, teachers' backgrounds and experiences suggest that teachers are less familiar with the cultural diversities they experience in their classrooms. Therefore, it is crucial for teachers to undertake professional development endeavors aimed at the acquisition of knowledge about multiple cultures and culturally related models for teaching and learning. International teaching placements-as both pre-service professional education and in-service professional practice-present new cross-cultural possibilities for preparing educators when working in and with non-dominant culture learning communities (Cushner & Brennan, 2007a; Garii, 2009; Schlein, 2006).

Thus, it is understood that global opportunities allow teachers to expand their cultural repertoires and help their students in North America share their own lives and experiences. In other words, teachers- who are generally representatives of the cultural mainstream-are expected to use global experiences to become culturally enhanced and to bring these enhancements back to their classrooms. In this article, we discuss a cross-cultural exploration of investigations into the experiences of Canadian and U.S. educators with professional induction in foreign countries. As such, we display the impact of cross-cultural teaching practice for work with diverse learners. Moreover, we present here our inquiries through the lens of cross-cultural dialogue in order to bring to light experiential facets and effects of teaching abroad that interweave global and national curriculum boundaries. Making use of each other's field texts and inquiry puzzles, we highlight contextualized interpretations of the experiences and possible relevance of cross-cultural teacher education, induction, and development.

Research Questions and Objectives

We highlight here the international socialization of novice educators to the teaching profession and we discuss and explore the possibilities for contextualized interpretations of cross-cultural teaching and educator professional development. Our work is guided by two overarching research questions: How do teachers experience foreign professional placements? In what ways do teachers believe that practice in unfamiliar countries, cultures, and school communities impact their teaching in multicultural North American schools? These questions shaped our inquiries into the cross-cultural development of North American teachers.

We also consider here contextual interpretations of our inquiry findings in relation to these questions: In what ways might terms such as crosscultural teaching, diversity, and multicultural education embed distinct notions in Canada and in the United States? How do Canadian and U.S. educators make sense of their cross-cultural experiences in meaningful ways? What might be some contextualized outcomes of international teaching with respect to Canadian and U.S. educational standards and expectations for national socialization? How might our interpretations be grounded in or transcend educational and societal settings?

Specifically, we set out to: analyze experiential stories of new teachers in foreign school contexts; examine the relationship between teaching abroad and teaching methods, teacher identity, and cultural identity; explore the effects of international teacher induction for educating students in multicultural North American schools; and deliberate over contextualized understandings of cross-cultural teaching placements as situated among and between Canadian and U.

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