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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Voices in the silence : narratives of disadvantage, social context and school mathematics in post-apartheid… Swanson, Dalene M. 2004

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V O I C E S IN T H E S I L E N C E : N A R R A T I V E S OF D I S A D V A N T A G E , S O C I A L C O N T E X T A N D S C H O O L M A T H E M A T I C S IN P O S T - A P A R T H E I D S O U T H A F R I C A . by D A L E N E M . S W A N S O N B.Sc. (Mathematics), University of Cape Town, 1984 Teacher's Licentiate (Speech and Drama), Trinity College, London, 1985 Higher Diploma in Education (Post-Graduate, Secondary), University of Cape Town, 1986 B.Ed. (Post-Graduate), University of Cape Town, 1991 M.Ed., University of Cape Town, 1998 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in THE F A C U L T Y OF G R A D U A T E STUDIES Curriculum Studies. THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA December 2004 © Dalene M . Swanson, 2004 A B S T R A C T Voices in the Silence is a critical exploration of the construction of disadvantage in school mathematics in social context. It provides a reflexive, narrative account of a pedagogic journey towards understanding the pedagogizing of difference in mathematics classrooms and its realizations as pedagogized disadvantage in and across diverse socio-political, economic, cultural, and pedagogic contexts. The fieldwork mostly occurred within the Cape Province of South Africa, in schooling communities with socio-economic, cultural and historical differences. Research took the form of interviews, discussions and participant observation, in a recent post-apartheid context. In resistance to perpetuating hierarchized, linear or scientistic approaches to research within traditional social sciences and mathematics education, I embrace an arts-based methodology. Through narrative, I engage with socio-political, cultural and pedagogic implications of the social construction of disadvantage in school mathematics discourse and practice. The dissertation, therefore, offers interdisciplinary approaches to critical concerns of inequity and access, calling on the emotive, spiritual, embodied, and personal domains of experience in problematizing the (re)production of disadvantage and certain socio-cultural practices that school mathematics supports. The concept of silence is introduced to interrogate the interstitial/intertextu(r)al places of 'lack' and 'deficit', and competing ideological positions and discourses of power, which inform the pedagogic and lived realities of "disadvantage" in mathematics classrooms within different contexts. Moments of articulation within fieldwork define utterances and somatic performances embedded within narrative contexts and their attending discourses, and instigate investigation, deliberation and engagement in analyzing the multiple ways in which disadvantage takes root/route. These signpost where 'voices in the silence', in discourse, context, and the subjectivities they (re)produce, may be recognized, problematized and rearticulated through narrative. This dissertation's major contribution is to open up spaces for dialogue with(in) silence through a reflexive narratizing. Ultimately, Voices in the Silence is an invitation to a dialogical pedagogic journey that seeks to provide roots/routes of engagement with the ideals of social justice and an egalitarian society. It attempts to find narrative moments within the difficult terrain of research work and lived experience where constructed and pedagogized disadvantage can be re-imagined and transformed into transcendent pedagogies of empowerment and hope. IV T A B L E OF CONTENTS A B S T R A C T ii T A B L E OF CONTENTS iv DEDICATION v A C K N O W L E D G E M E N T S vi PREFACE viii PHASE ONE: AN INTRODUCTION 3 SILENCE 5 ENDNOTES 19 PHASE TWO: THEORETICAL DISCUSSIONS AND CRITIQUE 30 THE TELLING OF T A L E S 31 ENDNOTES 62 UNFOLDING THE M A P 67 ENDNOTES 84 PHASE THREE: JOURNEY ACROSS CONTEXTS 86 STATES OF N A T U R E 87 ENDNOTES 121 FISHES A N D L O A V E S 127 ROOTS/ROUTES 137 ENDNOTES 179 C U L T U R A L BEADS A N D M A T H E M A T I C A L A.I.D.S 201 ENDNOTES 249 PHASE FOUR: TOWARDS JOURNEY'S END; A RETURNING 272 VOICES OF SILENCE 273 VOICES 280 VOICES IN THE SILENCE 291 REFERENCES 297 DEDICATION This dissertation is lovingly dedicated to my husband, Terryl O'Donovan, and daughter, Grace O'Donovan, who have come alongside me all the way. Without their unfailing love, devotion and support, this pedagogic journey would not have been possible. I lovingly thank my mother, Molly Swanson, nee du Plooy, and father, Douglas Swanson, for all their love and encouragement, and for setting me on my life's journey. This dissertation is also dedicated to the loving memory of friend Nongetheni Edith Tekani, and student Tebogo Edward Lebeko, whose spirits live with me and guide me still. Finally, it is devoted to all my students across the world whose lives have blessed and enriched my own. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I sincerely thank my supervisor, Dr. Ann Anderson, and committee members, Dr. Rita Irwin and Dr. Karen Meyer, for their faith in me, their invaluable advice, encouragement and support, and for their caring friendship. For this I am truly indebted. I lovingly thank my husband, Terryl O'Donovan, and daughter, Grace O'Donovan, who have been steadfast in their devotion, encouragement and unwavering faith in me as an academic, teacher, wife and mother. I am humbled by their commitment and the sacrifices that have made this research project possible. Thank you for the team spirit we share which enabled me to achieve what we set out to do on my pedagogic journey. I am grateful for Grace's companionship as she accompanied me, at the age of ten, on my fieldwork travels in South Africa. Our shared experiences and discussions, and her insightful thinking, provided me with another important perspective in terms of my own reflexive thinking. I lovingly thank her for her invaluable guidance and advice, and for her adventurous and supportive spirit. I am gratefully indebted to the people of the communities in South Africa in which I engaged in fieldwork, who opened up their hearts to me and so sincerely shared their life stories. They generously offered help and support in whatever I needed, even in difficult and trying circumstances. I am deeply honoured to have been a part of their lives and am sincerely grateful that they have been a part of mine. I hope that through our shared humanity, this research project, and my life's work, I will be able to give back to them as they have given to me. I thank all the friends and family members along the way who so generously offered accommodation and transport before I even asked, who provided us with practical help and support, and went out of their way to make our stay in South Africa comfortable and productive. I am grateful for their love and humanity. In particular, I thank special friends, Louise, Alice, Heather and Sue, across the miles, for their spiritual and loving support, and for being in my life. At home, I thank Cindy and Bianca for their wonderful and spiritual friendship, and for all the encouragement and practical support they have given me. I am grateful, too, for their presence in my life. I thank Dr. Susan Pirie, Dr. Donald Fisher and Dr. Kogila Adam-Moodley for all they did to help set me on my path in the Faculty of Education at UBC. I thank the CUST faculty, who have shown faith in me, and all the support staff, who have consistently gone out of their way to help. To all of you I am truly indebted. I thank my friends and peers in the Faculty of Education who have given me invaluable advice, encouragement and support. Their caring friendship and our shared experiences have made my journey at UBC all the more spiritually meaningful and worthwhile. I thank my students of the "Diversity" cohort, in the Teacher Education Program at UBC, for opening up their hearts to me and for their faith in me. I thank them for what they have given to me in terms of their wonderful humanity, and for so willingly, spiritually and enthusiastically embracing the ideals of social justice in the teaching and learning of mathematics at elementary school level. I thank the first group of students I interviewed all those years ago towards my Master's, whose alienating experiences in learning mathematics set me on my current research path in attempting to understand and provide meaningful interpretations of the relationship between socially constructed disadvantage and the disempowering way in which it becomes pedagogized in the (mathematics) classroom. I am truly indebted to them. Last, but not least, I am grateful for the loyalty and love of our cat, Iddy-Biddy, (in name only), who has been my steadfast and devoted companion for more than a decade and across two continents. I am especially grateful to her for her companionship during the long hours of my research writing. PREFACE DISSERTATION STRUCTURE This dissertation is comprised of four sections, represented by the quarters of a circle. These sections represent four phases of a cyclical journey, metaphorically represented by the four phases, or quarters, of the moon. This is also in keeping with a more 'circular', or 'elliptical', narrative-based approach synonymous with some African indigenous epistemologies. Each section/phase begins with a preface, walking the reader through that phase of the journey. This provides the reader with some background as to what to expect. It is metaphorically similar to explanatory travel notes in a photograph album or an entry in a journal of an expedition. PHASE ONE: AN INTRODUCTION relates to the process of deciding on travel, where and how to travel, what the traveler might be looking for, the obstacles she might expect to encounter, and the way of seeing (or not seeing) that the traveler might bring to bear on the way in which she embarks on her travels. This section walks the reader through the introductory phase. S I L E N C E sets the tone for the dissertation by introducing the metaphor and theme of silence for debate. This debate congregates around silence as it invests in the social construction of disadvantage and the way it may be lived out in relation to school mathematics discourse in different contexts. It also offers an interpretation of silence as living and operating within the interstices and intertextuality of discourses, agents, and ideologies of power within the social domain, and how this (re)produces disjunctures, paradoxes and dilemmas within fieldwork, research writing and lived experience. While it interrogates the many slippery forms and interpretations of silence, it provides it with metaphorical significance through the theoretical feature of voice. IX PHASE TWO: THEORETICAL DISCUSSION AND CRITIQUE represents organizing the trip; making travel arrangements; packing for travel; deciding what to take, what is needed, and checking one's itinerary. It walks the reader through some theoretical discussions and critique of narrative. It lays out a framework and reference points to enable the reading traveler to proceed. It also unfolds the map of the journey, as planned and experienced. T H E T E L L I N G O F T A L E S provides a background on narrative inquiry and presents a critique on the advantages and disadvantages of narrative within an arts-based framework. It also offers reasons for my embracing of narrative for this research project. U N F O L D I N G T H E M A P tells how the pedagogic journey unfolds; what to expect for the rest of the dissertation; some details on data collection and the research journey; and a brief map of the journey. PHASE THREE: JOURNEY ACROSS CONTEXTS represents the ever emergent state of travel and the research journey itself. It walks the reader through the actual physical and pedagogic journey through the 'telling of tales'. The four narratives describe the narrative intricacies of the research journey, but follow a chronology of writing, rather than the physical route. In this way, the pedagogic journey is fore-grounded. S T A T E S O F N A T U R E is a reflexive account of a visit to a farm school in rural post-apartheid South Africa. It focuses on issues of normalization, localization, and proceduralism. It looks at the importance of context, prevailing ethos, and the political disjunctures between the local and global. Conservativism and white governmentality are problematised in how they create 'the normal'. F I S H E S A N D L O A V E S addresses the philosophy of Africanisation, its incompatibility with the ideology of neoliberalism, how Africanisation can become subsumed within neo-liberalism, and how this plays out in a mathematics classroom in a context of 'poverty'. Issues of neo-colonialism, and how these inform poverty education and disempowerment within a mathematics education context, are at the fore. R O O T S / R O U T E S explores concepts of rootedness and routedness. It addresses notions of performance and rhyzomatic journeying as they inform research. It highlights dilemmas, disjunctures and paradoxes within mathematics education discourses and the mythologies produced, as informed by progressivism, neo-liberalism and globalisation. Contradictions in local and global contexts are manifest in lived experiences as sites of struggle between competing ideologies. This narrative weaves a critical and reflexive account of research moments as lived experience. C U L T U R A L B E A D S A N D M A T H E M A T I C A L A . I . D . S . explores critical issues in mathematics education and highlights further contradictions and dilemmas within different research contexts. It addresses issues of universalism, pedagogic contructivism, and progressivism in mathematics education, and how these are recontextualised in local contexts which contribute to the construction of disadvantage. In particular, progressive education rhetoric of 'relevance' in mathematics education is interrogated in terms of its recontextualisation across pedagogic contexts, and how it might facilitate pedagogic disempowerment rather than liberation. PHASE FOUR: TOWARDS JOURNEY'S END; A RETURNING is an 'unpacking' phase. This is a time when photographs of memories are placed in an album, and reflective journal entries written. I walk the reader through the returning phase and through finding 'stopping places' to pause, reflect on proximities and distances to research relationships; to stand back; and to allow the voices of the journey to come together, to collide or coalesce in finding new meaning in the way they shape experience and create emergent identities. It is also a time to ponder and seek a new way ahead, perhaps embark on another post-travel journeying. This notion of returning is a double entendre in the dual senses of 'going back' and 'giving back'. There are three pieces. V O I C E S OF S I L E N C E is a poem describing the many voices of silence as they infuse themselves within research texts. V O I C E S explores disjunctures, paradoxes and ironies, bringing the voices from different research contexts into one coalescing text in examining how disadvantage is constructed and pedagogized within school mathematics. Lastly, V O I C E S IN T H E S I L E N C E offers some closure and a re-opening. Throughout the dissertation, FOOTNOTES and ENDNOTES appear. F O O T N O T E S (referenced alphabetically) refer to shorter commentaries, explanations, translations, or definitions. E N D N O T E S (referenced numerically) refer to more in-depth theoretical discussions and critiques, or offer some alternative perspectives to parallel/ divergent/ convergent discussions or routes to the pedagogic journey. While the footnotes and endnotes provide context and theoretical grounding, the narratives can stand alone. There is a moon within a half circle of light. Many choose not to see it. They look upon the soft smooth arc, the perfect curve, and see its boldness. But there are shadows between us, and a moon behind the arc we fear to see, for we have not yet learned the paths beyond the spaces we create, the contours of the unimagined. 2 The silences within silence-are very difficult to read... to 'know' that they exist in non-existence, and my mind starts to see the problem as a matrix of infinite 'cul de sacs'...I feel like lam being pulled into a vortex and then thrown out on some invisible 'other' side into a dead space of dreaded silence... Marika turns the book to the last page, but she has gone silent too. I hear the sound of the paper as the page turns. There is a long pause and I notice that the wind has stilled outside. The smell of late afternoon, of cooling earth, seems to find its way through the door. Outside, I hear the horses, anticipating the time when they are to be fetched and taken home. There is a long whistle in the distance. I haven't heard that sound clip of a South African rural setting in so many years. The horses move again. One neighs. Marika gets up. Before she closes the book, I see a column of tiny diagrams of shapes and solids. On the right of each is 'the answer' or a space where the answer is left out or is unknown. A triangle has 'no answer'. Next to the square is the word 'skwar' which has been marked incorrect with a neat red cross. A circle has the word 'sirkel' next to it, and it too has been marked with a red cross. A cylinder has the word 'trapezium' next to it, correctly spelt, but it has not been marked. I wonder why? I wonder if there had been any discussion to separate out 'incorrect spelling' in English, from 'incorrect mathematical' concept.... But, I say nothing... I feel defeated! Excerpt from: STATES OF N A T U R E : CREATING 'THE NORMAL' THROUGH A TALE OF A FARM SCHOOL PHASE ONE: AN INTRODUCTION 3 The moon has fascinated human beings for millennia. It has always inspired awe and wonder. The moon has been the source of mythology, folklore and legends. It has evoked esoteric dreams; stimulated creative thought and inspired poetry. Moreover, the moon has been associated with changing moods, the psychic, the mystical, the ethereal, and the metaphysical. Acclaimed poet Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote of the moon, in The Cloud. That orbed' maiden With white fire laden Whom mortals call the Moon. I chose the moon as a metaphor for my research because of its continuously changing phases, which represent a cyclical pedagogic journey that is non-linear, ever emerging, and iterant. In continual orbit around the Earth, the moon is steadfast in its allegiance to it. Yet, it casts shadows, changes perspectives and blurs the imaginative with the real. The moon offers an ethereal light to night travelers by illuminating a path, but often confusing forms and making obstacles unclear. Similarly, a researcher can never be absolutely sure, only guided towards what she believes to be the way ahead. Making sense o f the path depends on lunar changes in the forms o f illumination. The moon helps to connect two continents and two separate countries relevant to my research. When viewed from Africa and North America, the moon appears the same, despite the symbolic and the physical boundary of the ocean between them on whose 4 movement the moon constantly has influence. Despite or because of my own 'transnational' identity, my engagement in fieldwork in a South African context, and writing the research in a Canadian one, elucidates issues of distance and proximity and relations of power between different research contexts. Memory, the faculty which mythically the moon is said to influence, plays a part in both proximal and distal relationships found within the research texts. The interplay of the two informs the 'telling'. I am aware that I might have told different stories if I was writing them in South Africa about South Africa. I wonder if I have seen clearly, remembered well, seen it to be 'the same'; or whether I have been deluded by the lunar spell of something that promises effulgence, clarity, truth, reality. I know that alluring promise is not altogether true, but I have to continue my journey of searching nonetheless. This phase marks the start of a long journey, with many obstacles, many paths, and many choices. It is here where I decide to embark on a life-enriching, pedagogic journey: where to go, what to do. This is the New Moon. It hangs like a sickle in the night sky. I cannot see clearly yet, but I know I must begin my preparation for travel. My eyes will adapt as I learn to see in the dark. In the dark my ears are more attuned to the silence(s). Perhaps, knowing this, I may see more. As the twentieth century American historian, Charles Austin Beard, so wisely said: "When it is dark enough, you can see the stars." 5 S I L E N C E Cromwel l : But, Gentlemen of the Jury, there are many kinds of silence. Consider first the silence of a man when he is dead. Let us say we go into the room where he is lying; and let us say it is in the dead of night - there's nothing like darkness for sharpening the ear; and we listen. What do we hear? Silence. What does it betoken, this silence? Nothing. This is silence, pure and simple. But consider another case. Suppose I were to draw a dagger from my sleeve and make to kill the prisoner with it, and suppose their lordships there, instead of crying out for me to stop or crying out for help to stop me, maintained their silence. That would betoken! It would betoken a willingness that I should do it, and under the law they would be guilty with me. So silence can, according to circumstances, speak.... Because of this silence betokened - nay this silence was - not silence at all, but most eloquent denial. M o r e (with some of the academic's impatience for a shoddy line of reasoning): Not so, Mr. Secretary, the maxim is 'qui tacet consentire'. (Turns to C O M M O N MAN.) The maxim of the law is (very carefully) 'Silence Gives Consent'. If therefore, you wish to construe what my silence 'betokened', you must construe that I consented, not that I denied. Thomas Cromwell and Sir Thomas More, at the trial of Thomas More, in Act II, A Man for All Seasons, by Robert Bolt (1960, pp. 91-92). 6 Silence haunts us.... Shrouded in secrets and false promises, it immortalizes our mortality, so that we are but a wraith of our own potential. Like ignis fatuus A , it ignites the dark with spectral light, illusory and illusive; hovering and flitting over the marshy ground of our consciousness, playing tricks with our consciences, misleading those who travel by the moon. Silence lives in many places.... Caught in a tautological web, it resides where it is claimed absent. An anti-place, it breathes meaning into the between-places, and seeps insidiously through the fissures of our social frames. It is ubiquitous Listen attentively! Listen to... listen for silence. Failing to hear silence does not connote its nonexistence; failing to hear is silence itself. Listen authentically! 'There's nothing like darkness for sharpening the ear...' A Also known as will-o'-the-wisp, friar's lantern, or jack-o'-lantern, from Medieval Latin meaning 'foolish fire'. It is a pale flame or phosphorescence sometimes seen over swampy ground at night. It is believed to be due to the spontaneous combustion of methane or other hydrocarbons originating from organic matter. Often perceived as a mysterious or religious sign, it was reported in earlier times to have misled night travelers at their peril. It also means a person or thing that is elusive or allures and misleads. Silence unseen hisses with meaning.... Covertly overt... overtly covert, it constructs without presence. Silence is sonorous and grandiloquent, for it speaks with many voices.. . Like the chimera that bites its tail, it is that which it constitutes and by which it is constituted. Paradoxically, silence devours voice as it is devoured by it. It is both place and condition, . . . both state of being and agent. Silence inheres in the dilemmas that create / are created by disadvantage. It invests in conundrum, and manifests in contradiction. It plays a duplicitous game of duality, being both metaphorical and literal. Be cognizant! Silence metamorphoses and masquerades as counter-narrative, and like a multi-headed Hydra, replicates its many other selves. It camouflages itself against the real, confusing the principles o f the ethical, the moral, and the just. 8 Schizophrenic in nature, as silence deludes itself, it also deludes others. It blurs and confounds meaning, and invests in the power o f language and thought through the maintenance of ignore-ance and the continuance o f darkness and despair. In dismissing complexity, silence submits to the singular and hegemonic. But do not pity it, for it is its own hegemony, reproducing power dis/re-cursively. Silence, as the fake, is the alluring discourse that takes the rhetorical place of truth.... In the initial excerpt from the acclaimed play, A Man for All Seasons, Robert Bolt draws attention to the themes o f political expedience, corruption and duplicity through Cromwell and More 's debate on the meaning of 'silence'. 1 This debate in the play ironically culminates in the political silencing and ultimate death of Thomas More. While Cromwell parsimoniously acknowledges that there are 'many kinds of silence', he cunningly forwards a persuasive argument on the nature o f silence that would validate only his truth on it - silence as denial - for the sole purpose of misconstruing More 's intentions. More than mere pontification, Cromwell 's argument on the theme and nature o f silence invests in the agency o f silence so as to silence, affirming it as condition, agent and action. In A Man for All Seasons, although the metaphor of silence highlights the controversy around interpretations of More's professed 'inaction' on one level, (more particularly, with a deep sense o f dramatic irony), it goes further to illuminate the many forces at play 9 that silence can 'betoken', such as those o f expedience, deceit, deception and injustice, and how this is achieved in context. A s the audience/ reader o f the play is made privy to Cromwell 's self-profiting intentions, the deluding characteristics of silence become evident in Cromwell 's argumentation at More 's trial. This silence is used to undermine truth as it imposes another. It misconstrues events and actions, and reconfigures the playing field o f judicial and political process, making a mockery of justice itself. In this sense, it is attributed human vice, and consequently personified and given 'voice ' . Here, 'silence can, according to circumstances, speak'... and, since it possesses profound agency, it can speak of many things8 ... speaking articulately also o f what it does not say... In introducing the core theme of the critical relationship between socially constructed and pedagogized "disadvantage", in my research on sociological/socio-cultural/socio-political perspectives within mathematics education, I likewise introduce the concept of silence for debate. This debate informs concepts and lived realities of "disadvantage" in relation to mathematics classrooms across diverse contexts and within different 'communities of practice' (Lave and Wenger, 1991). These 'diverse contexts' may be pedagogic, socio-economic, political, geographic, or intersections of such textual positions. L i k e the characters Cromwell and More, I too interrogate the many slippery forms and interpretations of silence while simultaneously acknowledging its agency in selecting the B The more common English expression is that 'silence speaks volumes'. From my perspective, it is not how much it can say that concerns me, as much as its capacity to mutate and embed itself in diverse contexts. However, the extent of silence and the difficulty in eradicating it in susceptible, vulnerable, subordinated or weakened places/texts/voices is also dangerous and troubling. 10 very interpretations that would, by definition, maintain its illusiveness and indeterminateness, while establishing its power. Given much credence in post-modern thought, silence can be its own mask of the simplistic and essential, which hides its complexity and nuanced power with a cloak of many colours, vivid to some and yet opaque to all who would not recognize it for what it is. Without an attempt at translation or interpretation, silence carries the hegemony of 'universality', so that misinterpretations burgeon and misrepresentations proliferates forms.3 Silence invades sites of struggle and disjunctures in discourses of power as it simultaneously evades accountability and definition.4 But silence also fragments meaning as much as it permits fertile moments to foster new thought, so that we are continuously caught off guard, neither able to contest or embrace it. Even as we begin to challenge its divisiveness and the many ways in which it is implicated in the construction of disadvantage, it shifts position, morphs into something else, and redefines the boundaries of discourses and barriers to meaning so as to escape detection and avoid conviction.5 Consequently, to seek silence in discourse and practice as manifest in the lived experiences within classrooms and communities of practice, as well as to reflexively engage with its recursive nature in the production of narratives on reality as encountered in the fieldwork/ research writing process, is to seek the hiding places of silence within 11 and between discourses, as well as to listen for it by becoming attuned to its multiple modes of operation.6 To begin to understand silence in more symbolic terms beyond a simplistic interpretation of it as 'the absence of sound', one needs to appreciate silence, as Cromwell averred in the play, in terms of voice. Even in this sense, silence is often reduced to 'voicelessness' in postmodern writing, and provided limited metaphorical power in the 'crises of representation' debate. In informing concerns regarding the hegemony of ideas in the reproduction of relations of power between the researcher and researched, insider and outsider, subjugated and subjugator, colonized and colonizer, silence is made to speak of positions that visually look like, or sound like, speaking or non-speaking voices. It is as if these are literal categories, much like the separations of one speaking/non-speaking body from another. In other words, voice corresponds with 'human units', as in a 'body of a voice', where the body is merely an empty or abstract entity representative of the voice itself. Little recognition is given to this limiting interpretation as an intralogical silence, by not considering voice as transcending bodies, identities, opinions, standpoints, positions and postures, and to do so in more relational, symbolic and contextual terms.7 A contemporary critique advanced against traditional/ positivist research, most especially o in ethnographic areas of study within 'critical theory' , is that subaltern voices, or the voices of 'others', are not given sufficient representation or legitimacy within hegemonic contexts or against the dominance of master narratives. This critique is present in a proportion of the writing in critical/ reconstructionist (feminist) theory and is often heard 12 in remarks such as 'the voices of black women were not heard', or 'the voices of the oppressed/ colonized/ subjugated were not validated', or there was 'insufficient representation of voices of women of colour'. I certainly do not deny the existing hegemonies in dominant discourses, the silences they create, or the urgent need to find alternative perspectives and contest the entrenched hegemonies through counter-narratives and decolonizing discourses in the interests of social justice. In fact, these very ideals are at the core of my own purposes in engaging in research of this nature. I consider my work to be critical in its scope, orientation and commitment, and my advocacy in advancing democratic ideals and addressing social injustice through my research and educational work is foremost and of utmost importance. Consequently, I believe that to leave the debate in these superficial 'equity of representation' terms is not to engage with it sufficiently critically, although unproblematic alignment with this point of advocacy is commonly assumed to represent a 'critical standpoint'.9 In this sense, I offer a critical view of some assumptions within certain aspects of 'critical theory', towards transcendence of delimiting rhetoric and in the interests of facilitating greater democracy and dialogue in academic/ social science research work. I therefore advance a perspective on critical thought that interrogates assumptions within 'critical' discourse, intralogically, not only outside of it and between discourses, in the factional and relational senses. I argue that a narrow conception of voice canalizes understandings of equity and power in terms of a kind of'affirmative action' program that views correctives mechanistically and 13 quantitatively 1 0 , as i f the number o f literal, subaltern voices (and its evenly distributed 'diverse' and 'colourful' array, in Western multicultural style) w i l l balance the inequalities, create 'harmony' 1 1 and solve social problems. Rather than liberate, this advocacy aligns itself with a positivist, quantitative standpoint by invoking a pseudo-mathematical metaphor o f 'equation as balance' to sustain its moral correctness. This is also often uncritically advocated without considering context as informing the nature, position, orientation, complexity, and even existence o f the fulcrum (or multiple fulcrums) o f such inequalities. This simplistic image o f the 'equation as balance' offers 'liberation' without contesting the structural/ ideological and material conditions by which the inequities are established and maintained, thereby asserting false promises. Seldom is it considered that this standpoint may socially construct and establish, unproblematically, the very oppressions from which it claims to offer liberation. More specifically, how do we know that we are hearing an authentic 'black woman's voice', for example? Is it because it corresponds with an apparently gendered 'black body' of the speaker, that Benston refers to as the "'blackened' shell o f selfhood" (Benston, 1989, in Casey, 1993, p. 111)? Here, we can begin to understand the complexities of black women's experiences as having been "subsume(d) into a tractable sign" that "void(s) the possibility of meaning" within this 'blackened' shell, through the white gaze which homogenizes the experiences of 'the other' as "a mute, visible object" (Johnson, 1989, in Casey, 1993, ibid.). This begs the question: from whose perspective or in which context is the claim of a 'black' (or white, for that matter) voice or body to be made, being a somewhat arbitrary, contextually elaborated, social construction rather 14 than a reality? Do we never hear 'white power' or imperialism from that which would be deemed 'black voices', and how might we know this? How might we recognize the colonization of voice, and which contexts produce the power differentials for its / ' production? What are the contextual features that provide the legitimate spaces for the elaboration of such performances? Are these unitized voices, universally the same, equally relational to all positions across diverse contexts? What claims can we/ are we permitted to make and by whom? Is there never external authorship within positions of oppression, even within counter-hegemonic voices? Who permits that we recognize this and defines the legitimizing parameters of appropriate critical discourse by regulating the criteria o f ' criticalness' ? To engage with issues of silence and its manifestations in voice, I believe that critical theorists and others need to interrogate the discursive mechanisms o f self-silencing, before we can make assertions about 'transcendence' or 'liberation'. In this sense, we need to be attuned to the silences within that which is purported to be 'pedagogies of democracy'. The 'equation as balance' 1 2 is one such image that requires careful deconstruction in terms o f the ways in which it informs and delimits discourses on social equity and disadvantage. In this regard, Umberto Eco's (1979) words break the silence as they ring out as a powerful warning: " A democratic civilization w i l l save itself only i f it makes the language of the image a stimulus for critical reflection - not an invitation for hypnosis" (p. 33). 15 In consequence, it is not my interest to pepper my dissertation with a 'colourful' 1 3 array of diverse voices that correspond to the physical shells of bodies, as if this would grant the critical motivations behind my research automatic credibility, which is often advanced as a criterion for academic legitimacy within critical theory. Rather, I hope to raise the level of discourse so as to interrogate more deeply and widely the investment of silence in the construction of disadvantage and the way it may be lived out in relation to school mathematics discourse in different contexts, by viewing voice less literally, more metaphorically and somewhat more theoretically.14 Consequently, rather than focusing only on providing multiple examples of'diverse voices' (as explicit utterances from interview transcripts) which mark out positions of subordination as 'silence', I have, instead, taken moments of articulation within my fieldwork. As such, utterances and somatic performances, embedded within narrative contexts and their attending discourses, have instigated investigation, deliberation and critical engagement in analyzing, at a more theoretical level, the many multiple ways in which disadvantage takes root/route. These moments of articulation signpost (Derrida, 2002) where 'voices in the silence', in discourse, context and the subjectivities they (re)produce, may be recognized, interrogated and rearticulated within a narrative writing approach. These narratizing moments of articulation may have been epiphanies or identity-changing events, as they have sought to provide illuminations for me in the shadowy places of lived experiences and ordinariness.15 The choices I made for their representation did not 16 arise out of frequency of occurrence or potential for generalizability. I viewed momentary events, even minutia, in the textual map of my research journey in terms of their potential to provide insight on broader, structural, ideological, embedded and connected discourses in which silence lay or operated. Traditional criteria of validity, verification and generalizability were not my foremost concern, nor the emphases on frequency and consistency, criteria that were ever present for consideration in the relational sense to positions of hegemony within academic writing. I continuously deferred capturing 'reality' or 'truth', even as these criteria in themselves were not my research objectives. I have reflexively engaged with many of the tensions, contradictions, ambiguities and paradoxes lived out in my fieldwork experiences. I have attempted to illuminate the ethical dilemmas of choice as they have informed broader discourses and debates. I have tried to engage with the underlying, often hidden, ideological premises of articulations and actions to make visible the innate silences and their agency these inform. I have not tried to reconcile the controversial and inconclusive, harmonize discord, and obfuscate innate discrepancies and disjunctions within discourses and positions.16 In this sense, I have embraced difficult issues and unanswerable questions with rigour through personal, spiritual and theoretical engagement and a messy grappling.17 I have consequently resisted the traditionalist approach to social science research that modulates content as it regulates form by claiming greater 'validity'18, and access to reality and objective truth. I recognize that the hegemony of scientism in social science/qualitative 1 7 research work in itself {reproduces and maintains ideologically-premised silences through the institutional disciplining of the researcher/author as a means of self-silencing.19 Nevertheless, I cannot claim that the choices I have made, or the manner in which I have approached them, have not produced their own silences through the emphases and selectivities that are inevitable in the evocation of the narratives I have told. Nor do I claim that I have been able to see/hear or validate them all in this rendition of my research journey. Having said this, I also do not naively believe that greater validation is achieved through 21 a "confessionalist" approach, as much as I am aware that it cannot be claimed through the means of a traditional, objective one. Reflexivity might be more honest, and narrative may make constructed reality appear more profound and palpable, but neither necessarily achieves greater truth. Perhaps a tenuous and contingent validity can be conditionally achieved through candor, a dialogical approach, personal conviction, and how compellingly the narration might resonate with lived experience. However, I am again 22 fully aware that 'resonance' in itself does not imply truth, as truth is multiple, contingent and socially constructed, and 'resonance' may well act as a replica of the fake. Importantly, my purpose is not to claim truth at all, but to provide insights into recognizing silence within mathematics education research and its contexts of practice, even as it avoids a set definition, and to open up opportunities for challenging it. 18 I am cautious of not unwittingly participating in the perpetuation o f silence and inadvertently facilitating, rather than contesting, its dangerous social implications. In the interests of illuminating the many voices of... and i n . . . silence, I therefore hope to elaborate a story of a research journey that does not, by default, create shadows within which silence may take root, . . . either through, as in the Cromwell-More debate, 'tacit consent' or 'most eloquent denial', . . . or, in fact, a conflation of both positions. The major contribution this dissertation makes to the exploration o f constructions of disadvantage, and their realizations across mathematics classroom contexts and communities of practice, is by opening up spaces for dialogue with(in) silence through a narrative journeying. It is a dangerous journey, toward a more democratic, egalitarian ideal of both citizenship and pedagogy. Nevertheless, it is a journey that I am compelled to undertake, guided only by the ethereal, but meaningful, lunar light of personal commitment, and social and spiritual conviction. For, to choose not to undertake such a dialogical journey is the greater silence. A s Boal (1979) asserts: Dialogue is always dangerous, because it creates discontinuity between one thought and another, between two opinions, or two possibilities and between them infinitely installs itself; so that all opinions are possible, al l thoughts permitted. When two cease to exist and only the Sole Absolute thought remains, creation becomes impossible. Dialogue is democracy, (p. xvii) 19 E N D N O T E S 1 While Bolt interrogates the meaning of 'silence' in the play, the work itself sets up traditional dichotomies and binaries reflecting Western/ Eurocentric thought. 'Silence as denial' is set against 'silence as consent', as if these exist unproblematically as natural antonyms without the need to raise further alternatives as possibilities. Further, the positivistic mindset, often attributed to Eurocentred thought, that asserts that neutrality and objectivity is possible, and even desirable, is present in Cromwell's gender-specific use of the metaphor of entering a room where there is a 'dead man'. Here, Cromwell interprets the lack of sound from the dead person as 'silence, pure and simple'. Yet, we know that this form of silence, in itself, is not 'pure and simple', but an ideologically-infused silence through rendering absent the contextual reasons for the death of the person. It is silence through lack of consideration of the elements for which the silence occurred. In this sense, the argument is the blurring (in post-structuralist lingo) of the two previously asserted dichotomies: it is 'silence as denial', through denying the interpretations for the silence of the dead man, and 'silence as consent', through participating in the positivist, reductionistic mindset prevalent in Eurocentric thought that would deny multiple, non-neutral interpretations of the silence of the dead man. There is a further potential silence to consider here: the context of using an introductory excerpt of European literary text to expound on and analyze meanings of silence in a broader context, with the concomitant absence of other literary forms and styles which may reflect alternate, non-Eurocentric thought. This was a serious concern for me in the way this excerpt of A Man for All Seasons may 'set a Eurocentric tone' for my dissertation on 'constructions of disadvantage' through a gentrified opening narrative, and which I deliberated on for some time before deciding to use. Nevertheless, silence as a socio-historical phenomenon and human condition, has been present with us for eons and has shown its ghoulish face across genres and contexts, both temporal and spatial. Consequently, this specific excerpt of the classical play proves very useful in raising several powerful, critical issues, which are also contextually generalizable through the metaphor of silence. These critical issues relating to power and discourse are foundational in respect of the issues I wish to address in my dissertation, and I have qualified my use of the excerpt by problematizing and making visible the Eurocentric thought embedded in the established 20 arguments. These arguments, in themselves, attest to the existence of and contribute to the debate on the many, multiple, layered and embedded meanings of silence and their value-laden contexts of use. 2 Cromwell achieves this by effecting polemical language and promulgating lies in the guise of truth, in the name of what 'silence betokens'. Contesting Cromwell's standpoint, More advances a counter interpretation of silence as consent rather than denial. However, More's intellectual prowess and spiritual convictions carry little clout within this context where he is placed in an invidious position and made the scapegoat of a dangerous political process. Consequently, More pays the price with his life. In a situated context where integrity and honour are a disadvantage, the manipulation of meanings and the use of rhetoric undermine the genuine and sincere through falsity and corruption. 3 In a similar vein, Judith Butler ( 2 0 0 0 ) draws attention to the importance of cultural translation in disrupting the hegemonies invested in universality. She notes: Without (cultural) translation, the very concept of universality cannot cross the linguistic borders it claims, in principle, to be able to cross. Or we might put it another way: without translation, the only way the assertion of universality can cross a border is through a colonial and expansionist logic, (p. 35) Nevertheless, she also warns of the danger of appropriation in the act of translation, given the interests served in the relationship between agents and in the performance of the translation. In light of this warning, I note the agency of silence that finds root/route in the interstices and intertextu(r)ality of the medium and context of translation itself. [See also personal narrative on cultural translation, Swanson ( 2 0 0 1 ) ] . 4 As will be addressed in the narratives, silence invades our discourses of liberation as well, and is not only found within hegemonic discourses. An example is how mathematics education research has been accused of suffering from "internalism" (Skovsmose and Valero, 2 0 0 1 ) , where the interests of the research intentions of researchers in the field are most often not self-critiqued in terms of inherent assumptions that their principles are unproblematically aligned with those of democracy. Their silence on this matter acts to reinforce the assumption that there exists a harmonious relationship between mathematics education and democracy. [See also Swanson (in press b)]. 21 J Silence does not necessarily inhere in discourse or between discourses in a static way, but is found also in the way in which discourse in one context is reconfigured or "recontextualized" (Bernstein, 2000; Dowling, 1998) in another. However, Bernstein (1973, 1993, 1995, 2000) in his theoretical tenets of "classification" and "framing" speaks of the "insulations" between discourses as "silences", which sets up a hierarchy in the "social division of labour of discourses" and which consequently invest in relations of power. As Bernstein avers: "it is the silence which carries the message of power" (p. 6) [See also Swanson (1998) for analysis on these Bernsteinian concepts]. 6 This multi-sensory attending relies on understanding agencies of silence as operating, acting or performing within the interstices and intertextualiy of mediums, discourses, agents, or texts. In this way, listening, feeling, and hearing, involves the intersubjective as well as intrasubjective qualities of attending to silence(s). 7 These would be terms that would view voice as symbolic, metaphorical, metonymic, plural, discordant/resonant, communal, multiple-authored, absent authorship, misplaced, blurred and non-unitary, complex, emergent, disembodied, institutional, disciplinary, non-bounded, transcendent, evolving, augmented, indefinable, or as agent, to offer a few alternatives. (See also Gergen and Gergen, 2000, p. 1028-1029, on "multiple voicing"). Voice is connoted differently in different qualitative texts and in reference to different contexts. In certain cases "voice" carries more specific theoretical meanings whilst in other texts the meanings are blurred and multi-functional (see as example, Foster, 1994, p. 132). Michelle Fine (1994) challenges the lack of theoretical approach to voice in some post-modem research orientations. She sees this lack of theorizing as tantamount to obscuring the distances and proximities, and relations of power embedded in concepts and uses of voice. She discusses aspects of voice and voice strategies as a way of critiquing the "ventriloquism" found in much qualitative research. Consequently, Fine critiques the propensity of some researchers to claim that their research subjects "voices" are "unadulterated" as they speak through the research text, thereby disregarding the power dynamics of the "space" or context of the production of voice (pp. 19-23). These and similar issues have also forced re-consideration of the multiple roles of the researcher and her subjective positioning in the research context, the visibility and, consequently, the ethics of the power relations between researcher and researched, and what might or might not 22 be claimed as authentic or "simulacra" (Lather, 1994, p. 40). [See also Quantz and O'Connor (1988) for critical discussion on multivoicedness]. 8 Critical reflexive approaches to qualitative research have developed out of a need to contest the positivist tenets of traditional scientific discourse and the moral and ethical problems associated with objectifying, universalizing, essentializing and neutralizing discourses. Reflexive criticism rejects the standpoint of scientific objectivism in qualitative research methods. Simultaneously, critical and feminist approaches have been "openly ideological" (Lather, 1986) and have sought to "free individuals from sources of domination and oppression" (Anderson, 1989, p. 249), whilst attempting to provide a 'reliable' framework for accountability and evaluation of representational validity (see as examples, Lather 1986, 1994; Wolcott, 1990). They consider a more sensitive and complex account of the perspectives/stances of 'the Other' and the relational, exploitational and ethical difficulties this invokes. Critical reflexive ethnographic accounts tend to present a view of everyday social life as the engagement with local knowledges and situated accounts, and social and cultural meanings as instantiations within the negotiated terrain of qualitative inquiry (Geertz, 1983). Critical/ feminist ethnography provides some alternative perspectives to positivist assumptions embedded in conventional scientific discourses and provides a reflexive methodology as a way of proceeding through the moral, political and ethical minefields of qualitative research. From this methodological position, alternative ways of viewing objectivity, validity, reliability and truth are proposed and more empowering perspectives on issues of representation, voice and identity are advocated. These perspectives allow for a more critical account of paradoxes, contradictions and shifting realities in the research field as well as the written text. Critical ethnographers, however, differ in what makes their methodological approach 'critical', and they produce differing emphases of political consciousness, orientation, advocacy and analysis in order to situate their work within a critical and feminist theoretical paradigm (see, as some examples, Anderson, 1989; Carspecken 1999; Roman, 1993a, 1993b; Oakley 1981; Stacey, 1988). They often attempt to deflect criticism of value-orientation to their work by arguing that such research perspectives are no less value-laden than any other theoretical research tradition (whether positivist, post-modernist or otherwise), or that their value-orientation does not necessarily adversely affect their findings and cloud their research (see Carspecken, 1999). Some 23 critical feminist ethnographers argue that being 'up front' about their positions of advocacy provides their work with greater credibility than objectivist orientations which seek to hide the bias of their work and the researcher's own subjectivities. They argue that it also provides a better basis for moral and ethical review of critical and feminist ethnographic research (see the work of Lather, 1994, as an example). Whilst some argue that objectivity, truth and validity require being reconceptualized and propose that these concepts be viewed in terms of contingency and "multiple realities", many argue that 'truth', although partial and situated, is nevertheless tangible and possible, and critical epistemological accounts of findings and representations is necessary (see Carspecken, 1999; Haraway, 1991). Roman (2000) highlights some differences in approach: The term "critical" refers to many conflicting variants of ethnography, including those infused with the political and epistemological commitments of feminist, materialist, post-colonial, post-modern and/or queer political critiques of existing social relations and naturalistic conventions for doing ethnography. While these traditions may overlap with one another or be in productive tension in some way, they all share the rejection of value-neutrality in research. With the exception of relativist positions, some of which have been associated with specific forms/uses of postmodernism (and certainly not with every usage of it), many working within these critical traditions do not reject the possibility of some form of'situated objectivity'. They distinguish situated objectivity from positivist and naturalistic quests for value-neutrality that they see as both methodologically impossible and politically untenable, (p.l) 9 Naples (1997) draws attention to the dangerous dichotomizing and caging that takes place through classifications such as Insider and Outsider, locations that are ever-shifting and permeable in community contexts. She notes that Harding (1986) contributed to the 'representation' debate by identifying the work of what she called 'standpoint theorists' as 'standpoint epistemologies'. [See also Harding (1991)]. Naples (ibid.) argues that many theorists have problematized this positioning, including Dorothy Smith (1992), as a limited classification, which does not assist in decodifying knowledge and whose premise presents arbitrary barriers imposed by 'Insiders' and 'Outsiders' doctrines. 1 0 Theodore Porter (1995), historian of science, argues that the ever growing authority and prestige of quantitative methods in the natural and social sciences and public life, is associated with the pursuit of objectivity, understood as impersonal knowledge, but which attempts to recruit a consensual trust in numbers as solutions to political and social problems. In this sense, numbers and the emphasis on quantification in interpretations and decision-making, carry a symbolic 24 authority beyond themselves. The trust and authority placed in number therefore has strong moral and ethical implications. 1 1 The assumption that a numerically-informed 'balance' creates harmony, is a very dangerous one, most especially as it rests on a simplistic ideology of scientistic naturalism. This is premised on the understanding that conflict is part of a natural cycle of life, and that harmony is achieved by finding the right balance. Unfortunately here, the concept of balance does not exceed its numerical, or algebraic, features, leaving the structural, embedded, spiritual and contextual features for which it may be associated unattended. 1 2 Further, the 'equation as balance' metaphor for establishing social equity is dangerous in the sense of the ideological premise of commodification of voice it necessitates. The condition of balance and harmony symbolically represented by the 'equal sign' infers relations of exchange, where the voice of the 'other' is packaged, codified and commodified as 'other' in the context of the 'equation', in exchange for participation in the domain of practice, neutralizing the context of its production concomitantly. This is despite McCarthy and Crichlow's (1993) warning that: "racial identities can never be gathered up in one place as a final cultural property" (p. xiii). Consequently, according to this prevailing neo-liberal philosophy, the 'equal sign' represents the place, fulcrum or point at which the exchange takes place, much like the algebraic processes in solving an equation, or where 'supply' meets 'demand', achieving 'balance' or 'optimum' conditions within capitalist relations of production. Hence, once the transaction of symbolic exchange has been completed, 'equality' is thought to prevail and the social injustice 'rectified'. Context is consequently deferred or dismissed as informing the production of social injustice. [See Ensor (1991) for further critique of social 'balance' in the mathematics classroom]. This concept of relations of exchange embedded within a capitalist mode of production is concomitant, to some degree, with the notions of "cultural capital", "social capital" or "symbolic capital", (see Bourdieu and Wacquant, 1992). Here, Bourdieu describes symbolic capital as that: which is the form that one or another of these species (economic capital, social capital, or cultural capital) takes when it is grasped through categories of perception that recognize its specific logic or, if you prefer, misrecognize the arbitrariness of its possession and accumulation, (p. 119) 2 5 The arbitrariness of the position or existence of the 'equal sign' in the relationship I describe, testifies to the symbolic nature of its capital relations. 1 3 Even as I refer to a "'colourful' array of diverse voices", I am reminded that "white is a color" as Roman (1993b, p. 71) correctly avers. In this sense, even without infusing the voices of 'others' into my dissertation, it would nevertheless still be 'colour-full' in the sense of the neutrality/whiteness of absence. Roman reminds us that the expression, 'people of color', is an ambivalent and oxymoronic phrase, and that it "still implies that white culture is the hidden norm against which all other racially subordinate groups "so-called 'differences' are measured." (p. 71). It infers that being White is 'colourless' and "hence without racial subjectivities, interests, and privileges" (ibid.). "Within certain contexts," she continues, "the phrase can convey the mistaken idea that racially subordinated groups are essential subjects of a single experience or system of racism" (ibid). [See also Frankenberg (1993) on the social construction of whiteness]. 1 4 Dowling and Bernstein have, for example, different theoretical positions on the concept of 'voice'. Bernstein uses voice to refer to strength of classification, as in the 'voice of the academy', or the 'voice of mathematics', (see Bernstein, 2000). Dowling (1998), however, uses voice as a textual production of a subject position, as in, for example, 'the voice of students constructed as "slow learners" ', referring to subordinate positioning with respect to more dominant positions. Throughout my dissertation, where I make use of the term drawing on the theoretical positions of either Bernstein or Dowling, it is framed in context. In other words, the context dictates the appropriate use of the term. 1 5 In this sense, a reflexive engagement with the quotidian and taken-for-granted is vital to such an analysis through personal immersion in the lives of the people of the communities I researched within. Commitment to this reflexive engagement is achieved via self-inscription through the descriptive, representational writing process and attending to the prevailing relations of power within shifting social contexts. 1 6 I have chosen not to avoid contradictions and dilemmas, harmonize discord and obfuscate difficulties and disjunctures in the interests of submitting to a pre-authored, social science orthodoxy - one that produces a distanced, orderly and seamless theoretical exposition, and crisp closure. In this sense, I am reminded of the comment by Fine, Weis, Weseen and Wong (2000): 2 6 In the social sciences, both historically and currently, the relationship between researcher and subject has been 'obscured in social science texts, protecting privilege, securing distance, and laminating the contradictions' (Fine, 1994, p. 72). (p. 108) 1 7 I have chosen to engage with difficult and unanswerable questions through a messy grappling, rather than through a positivistic, linear, detached reporting. Charmaz and Mitchell (1997) describe voice as the animus of storytelling, "not the content of stories but the ways authors present themselves within them" (p. 193). In this sense, they debunk the myth of silent authorship. Nevertheless, they point to the absence of authorial voice in social science writing in terms of the disciplinary pressures to conform: Method bequeaths meaning. Disciplines encourage this camouflage of the author's uncertain voice and sometimes require it. If subjects act in unexpected ways and authors insist on sharing their befuddlements in language that affronts positivist sensibilities with excessive subjectivity or offends post-modernists with political impropriety, peer review and rebuttal provide ample opportunities to bring errant authors back on course. The author's voice is modulated and muffled until indistinguishable from the metanarrative chorus of the discipline. The flight from ambiguity is joined, (p. 212) 1 8 Concerns regarding representation, force it beyond the terrain of traditional science which draws on a 'regime of truth' and authorizes the research position which permits the researcher to hide behind the 'mask of methodology'. Such concerns have served to foster challenging ethnographic discourses which disrupt previously-accepted institutional claims to validity, reliability and generalizability, and to demythologize the "god-trick of seeing everything from nowhere" (Haraway, 1991, p.189). [See as examples of alternative views on 'validity': Lather, 1986, for "catalytic validity"; Lather, 1994, for "validity of transgression", and Denzin, 1989, on "triangulation"; and Wolcott, 1990, on "seeking and rejecting" validity.] 1 9 Often, this is subtly achieved through creating 'discomfort' or 'self-doubt' for the writer around issues of presentation and form, thereby regulating what is considered by a jury of social scientists as legitimate or inappropriate, and by evoking "disciplinary" and "discursive anxiety" (Michalowski, 1997, p.48). 2 0 I acknowledge that the evocation and reproduction of silence is inevitable in all discourses, albeit that it may modulate its form, diminish, or grow as discourse is recontextualized. Making it more visible and attempting to contest it where it can be seen, would be the preferred approach, 27 as opposed to its denial, which is often established in traditional 'objective' social science research. 2 1 Kinchloe and McLaren (2000) refer to this approach as a kind of ethnocentrism, found within "confessional modes of ethnographic writing" which seek to avoid the objectification of the Other by attempting to align research objectives with those of the "participants" lived experiences, thereby collapsing the distinctions between them, (in other words - not 'coming clean' at the "hyphen" of the Self-Other (Lather, 1994)) and claiming joint authorship. Kinchloe and McLaren (2000) say that: "there is a risk that uncovering colonial and postcolonial structures of domination may, in fact, unintentionally validate and consolidate such structures as well as reassert liberal values through a type of covert ethnocentrism" (p. 297). This needs to be considered in developing more reflexive approaches to ethnographic writing. 2 2 The problematic nature of 'resonance' applies equally to the concept of 'authenticity', for claiming validation or truth. 2 3 This begs the question: What is the truth and what is the fake? This question may not be answerable, as distinction between the two would assert the assumption that truth exists. Nevertheless, I assert that the fake is that which is disguised as truth, even if that truth is merely an arbitrary analytical category and does not exist, or that the truth is socially constructed. The fake may also, then, be a simulacrum of something which cannot exist. 29 Within the sunken recesses of an imposing indigenous landscape, there is a place which breaks through the integument of a magenta-soiled Body-Earth. It is an eclectic montage of corrugated iron and hardboard, splitting the brush strokes of nature to expose its grit and bone... it is the skull of my country, its lived and unlived moments, bearing the teeth marks of a protracted history of Oppression, a peopled past-place ofpain and Struggle. At night the fires glow with an inward life through the indigo shapes of makeshift-shacks and fibrous brush, and the sounds of Africa are borne in choral cadences on capricious winds that sweep this rugged peninsula. The messages of disparate voices are lost in gusts of incoherence, and I can hear, with certain clarity, ONLY the force of the silences. I look into this palpable organ of a people's hope, ... but Ifeel also its dark disappointments. It is from this place, this informal settlement, that the children come... and they walk many a mile to a community missionary school, (which I will call) 'Visserman's Baai Laer' (Fisherman's Bay Elementary). Perhaps, they come in the hopes of some divine miracle that one-day they might be able, through their education, to rise above the material and historical conditions of socially-engineered "poverty ", beyond the land-locked, community-locked localities of established "disadvantage "frozen in time? Or perhaps they come because this school represents for them a place of "belonging", a self-reproducing demarcation of a "disadvantaged community ". Perhaps it is a retreat where all children "are equal in poverty", a "protected" place in which they may assert the wealth of their humanity, divorced, momentarily and contradictorily, from the outside conditions of a world which "others " them and holds them to their prescribed spaces of "deficit"and "disadvantage". Excerpt from: FISHES A N D LOAVES: A P A R A B L E OF "FAILURE^ 30 PHASE TWO: THEORETICAL DISCUSSIONS AND CRITIQUE Metaphorically, this is the packing phase o f the pedagogical journey. There is the excitement of anticipation when checking the itinerary, packing and repacking luggage, deciding what to take and what to leave behind. This is the preparation phase; making sure all is ready. The task seems slightly easier now that the moon is waxing. There is half-light to work by... The theoretical discussions and critique serve as a grounding for the research narratives; a preparation for travel. They lay out a framework and provide reference points to enable the reading traveler to proceed. Here too, I unfold the map o f the journey, as planned and experienced. Just as this phase is one of an imminent journey, so symbolically this section represents 'a writing towards narrative'. Even as the narrative traveler is always-already-narratizing, so she is interpellated, in the Althusserian (1971) sense, into a new subjectivity. This subject positioning is a recruitment from one of experiencing narrative to experiencing-narrative-as-writing. In this sense, narrativity expresses its own temporality and its always-already-development towards narrative and ever-greater-engagement with narrative as written-and-experienced. In this way, narrativity is not a static state, but a continuous way of knowing and becoming. Fragmentation and growth are necessary constituents of learning, so that the pedagogic journey is not mono-tone and 'seamless', but always encountering obstacles, overcoming challenges, changing forms through greater illumination and an emergent process of coming to be. This is evident in the changes of writing style and tone. M y intention is to show growth in the pedagogic journey. So, I move on... Soon, there w i l l be a gibbous moon. 31 THE TELLING OF TALES We do not really mean, we do not really mean, that what we are going to say is true. These are the words with which the Ashanti (African) storytellers begin their stories. We need all our words to tell the whole story. And, in the end, we can only stand upon our stories. Charmaz and Mitchell (1997, p. 212) 32 "Are you telling tales, Dalene?" Her voice boomed out across the classroom, reverberating against the walls and window frames before disappearing into them with a small shudder, as i f it belonged there, albeit uncomfortably, embedding itself into the textu(r)al map of the everyday rituals of classroom life. It was more than a mere question. It was telling its own story about the way things 'are' and 'are meant to be'. It was about surveillance, discipline and punishment, and it was about the construction o f criminality. It called on the codes o f legitimacy that preceded and informed the context, and the personal cost of transgressing those codes. They demanded policing the actions of the 'insubordinate', maintaining their oppression, acting in the interests o f Christian National Education ( C N E ) 1 . Purportedly, this was intended to 'serve our children' and engender consensual attitudes towards a Calvinistic worldview and respect for nationhood, to achieve the ends of an ideology of totalitarianism. "I did it, miss." I could feel the eyes of my classmates upon me; stunned by my courage to admit to a transgression that I had not enacted so as to aid another, transfixed with fear for their own safety in this recognizably, inescapable situation, while simultaneously being relieved that they were not in my position. One young boy looked down, unable to lift his eyes from the ground, battling back tears for not being able to have the courage to own up to his 'misdemeanor', apoplectic with personal fear. It was the kind of fear that gripped him on a daily basis, but which he, or no-one else for that matter, could ever get used to - real, lived, physical terror! "I am getting irritated with this," she stated emphatically, forcing a sigh as she postured a threatening stance, her hands on her hips. "I repeat the question, Dalene. Was it really you who did it, or are you telling tales to cover up for your classmate?" I was eight years old, and this was the voice o f my classroom teacher; the person purportedly responsible for my educational development, and physical and psychological well-being. Her eyes bore down on me, searching for clues from my embodied reactions, reaching voyeuristically behind the shield of my private self. Her physical bulk imposed on my personal space, attempting to intimidate me into submission and confession. She was so close that I could smell the staleness of her breath. I did not wince. I watched without reaction as her mouth turned to a grimace. A bead of sweat glistened on the hairs of her upper lip. I knew she was uncomfortable with my admission of guilt. For a moment, I had some advantage over her, as she was caught off guard, hesitant o f what to do in this unusual situation. A seam had unraveled, momentarily, in her cloak of omnipotent power. This wasn't going by the book.... "I did it, miss," I repeated, showing no emotion. I was not going to give them the pleasure of smelling my fear. In my own small world o f primary (elementary) school life, I had watched how certain children, unable to conform, had fallen vict im to the 'educational' system and its brutal, militaristic methods of control. I had seen the relentless victimizing o f these children, and how they were held up as a 'criminal ' example, through perpetual punishment, o f the consequences of transgressive behaviours. In the case of this heavily-labeled young boy, there wasn't a day that went by without his being physically 'disciplined'; bullied and victimized in one way or another by some school administrator - whether 'teacher' or 34 school principal - adults who, ironically, were supposed to be responsible for the boy's safety, or at least, that is what their roles implied. In those days in the late 60s, in this regional context o f (Gauteng, then Transvaal province), South Africa, like many places elsewhere in the world, albeit to differing degrees, corporal punishment in schools was ubiquitous. It became the default method of enforcing obedience and compliance while ensuring that no deviation from the norm was condoned. I am not sure why I did it. Perhaps to stand up to the blatant injustice in the only way I knew - just for this one trifling moment; perhaps as a blind act o f kindness; but certainly because I could not endure the sound of the thick wooden rod on the same flesh, day after day, for one more time. I would bare the brunt of another's action for this day as long as, just for now, I did not have to hear that sound on another victim's flesh and feel it so deeply, like a knife in my inner core. The physical, sharp sting on my own, open, upturned hand could not be as bad as that sonorously-induced, visceral, wounding pain that reached to your very soul.. . . "Somehow, I find this very suspicious." She turns with a vindictive smirk to the young boy with lowered eyes. "Somehow, I tMnk I know who the real culprit is," she says, assuming an air of arrogant righteousness. But unable to prove her assertions, and needing to mete out punishment anyway to maintain her illusive sense of 'authority', she turns to me with a face reflecting nothing more than petty pleasure: "Wel l , i f you are such a fool that you are going to take the brunt of a misdemeanor you didn't commit, then you deserve the punishment. Hold out your hand!"... Ironically however, as the punitive 35 instrument came in contact with my flesh, it was not the violent sting that caused the pang of pain, but the realization as I saw the young boy's body convulse on each beating, that I had done this act out of selfishness, rather than kindness as I had originally presumed. Even though I would not have been able to articulate it then, I knew in my heart that I had transferred the deep visceral and spiritual pain that someone experiences in 'looking on' while another is being victimized, to the young boy instead. I had not helped him at all! I had given him my inner pain of sound-silence, and, even worse, I had Created guilt and stolen his dignity. Despite the many claims to narrative as a relatively 'new' alternative methodology (although now well established) in social science research of a qualitative nature, narrative is rooted in social and personal history. Across cultures, geographic places and temporal spaces of human development, 'story' has been the mode of meaning-making for humans in social relation with each other and their environment for eons. Originally, and still effectively, rendered in its oral form in many contexts, it has provided the linguistic and interpretive basis of the social condition, through description of social realities, whether grand or ordinary, and in human beings experience of those realities as lived. Narrative is the performative expression of those experiences in the act of creating identity and defining, or attempting to define, what it means to be human, and what it means to know. Further, it gives dignity and value to narrative experiences through their expression, making them sacred, while transcending the material and transforming it onto the imaginative realm without separation from its material and (inter)textual rootedness. 36 Often considered as a contribution of 'indigenous knowledge' to the academic field, narrative in contemporary academia represents the symbolic and political act of resistance to the decontextualized, abstract, dispassionate modes of discourse embraced and reified by scientific rationalism and the movement which produced positivist methodologies of academic research. Nevertheless, even though narrative is now well accepted in the international qualitative research arena, within some postmodern writings, contention occasionally still exists around the 'validity' of academic representation outside of prescribed norms. Narrativity offers the possibility of flagrantly resisting formulation, and concerns itself with the human condition as lived and (re)imagined as its primary focus. It embraces creative textural forms that produce pluralized meanings and it breathes life and feeling into storied human experiences. Potentially, it desists from serving the interests of both positivist/ modernist and some post-modern orientations that would concern themselves with empiricist tenets of justification, 'truth' and form, above evocation, empathy, illumination, self-understanding, resonance, and the revisioning of ways of being and living in the world. Within a post-modern/post-colonial framework, where critical ethnographic and feminist discourses, amongst others, emphasize the subjective, relational and material position of the ethnographer/ writer/ researcher, in the construction of story, the central concerns of narrative, where it is endorsed, are about perspective, representation and interpretation. The locus of control for its validation and 'truth' is internal to narrative's form and does not rely on external exigencies that would commit it to normative dictates and delimit the 37 possibilities and provocative power of its self-held, but situationally-invoked, meanings. In this sense, narrative holds its quality and effect in its 'telling' and in the manner and form of its construction and delivery within a legitimating context. Narrative permits nuance, contingency, paralogism and ambiguity. It permits the sensate, spiritual, mythological and emotional domains of human experience, while valuing the aesthetic, literary/ oral, intuitive and interpretive dimensions that would honour lived experiences and explanations of the human condition. Narrative's advantage in opening up possibilities for (re)envisioning future society within democratic, egalitarian and social justice ideals is clear to those who advance its cause, and who live out those possibilities through narrative writing and engagement as a means of 'becoming' through 'learning to become' as a narrative journeying. Through literary and poetic device and the emotive power of narrative, critical concerns can be embraced, and provoke a range of emotional and intellectual sensibilities towards inspiring and enabling critical thought, social awareness, spiritual responsiveness and personal growth. Conle (2003) states that the use of narrative relies on "powerful cultural functions of narrative... Stories open possibilities to our imagination. The quality of those possibilities is vital to the quality of our future. A person without access to certain stories is a person without hope, without social vision" (p. 4). Beyond textual analysis, narrative can have a teleological quality (Kermode, 1967, in Conle, 2003, p. 5) that raises the debate on whether the narrative text contributes to broadening the specific field of inquiry in the traditional academic sense. More than 38 enlarging our scope of content knowledge, it possesses the potential to invoke a dialogical relationship between the field(s) of inquiry and the human experiences informed by it and which it informs. Narrative does so through discursive, embodied and spiritual engagement, embracing the situatedness of narrative experiences i n ways which do not avoid the dilemmas, contradictions, paradoxes and ambiguities of research experiences, or represent them in a detached, unemotional and objective/objectifying manner. Instead, it provides the opportunity, through the meandering, landscaped and reticular nature of its form, to create a webbed connectedness between the research and the complexities of experience that inform the research stories. Narrative inquiry contributes to the hybridity of meanings in consonance with the value and dignity that such meanings might contribute back to the humans who lived, or who might still be l iving out, those experiences. These possibilities might only be judged to exist as worthy criteria for evaluation of the social, personal and academic contributions they potentially make through the sensitive, respectful, and compelling manner i n which the narrative is rendered in consonance with the personal commitment, insights, perception and motivations of the teller(s) of the tale. These possibilities, however, are subjectively informed by the evocative quality and resonance of the stories, as well as the reciprocal responsibilities they infer to the research communities. They might tell more about the author(s), their location and self-journey^), than the characters or plot. 39 A s an epistemology 3 , Butt, Raymond and Yamagishi (1987) claim that narrative inquiry has "integrative, synergistic, and emancipatory potential" (p. 88). The integrative and synergistic potential is clear and refers not only to the multiple articulations o f ways o f expressing and experiencing lived realities, but the many opportunities to blend and infuse multiple domains o f practice and perspective. These include formal academic disciplines such as philosophy, sociology, psychology, literary studies, amongst others. I am, however, wary o f claims to emancipatory pedagogies that set up dangerous ideological commitments to utopianism and which leave unaddressed and materially unchanged the rooted, structural and enacted conditions by which social injustice becomes entrenched. Narratives in themselves cannot liberate communities without their being connected to further, collaborated activism and political action. The assumption that they can, reflects a naive and privileged position. Further, those on the ground are often l iving within constraining circumstances and are not in a luxuried or enabling position to read or address the narratives whose interests they claim to serve. The audience for such narratives is often not the constituency to which the potential empowerment is intended, or might not be the kind of audience which is materially able or, perhaps, even wil l ing to engage in what might be perceived as 'researcher-initiated', albeit collaborative, transformative pedagogies at grass roots level. Academic researchers and narrative writers need to be careful about making claims to emancipation through research writing in itself, although it may well lead to 40 emancipatory possibilities. These possibilities are worthy research objectives and academic goals in themselves, nonetheless. The ethical responsibility, however, for reciprocity between the researcher and research community/participants remains with the researcher in this regard, and lies beyond the ethical requirements of the research institution and the final textual research product. Narrative opens up a space for addressing responsibly the moral, political and ethical paradoxes and dilemmas o f the human experience through embracing pluralized perspectives in ways which give meaning and form to those experiences as lived. Such space encourages other envisioned possibilities o f lived realities as a facultative act; one which empowers i f not compels humans to engage autonomously in action towards personal and collective liberation. B y emphasizing lived experience, narrative can utilize the commonplace to challenge the commonplace. In this sense, the reader/audience is invited into conversation with narrative as a life-enriching journey, so that dialogical avenues are opened up at various levels and between participants as co-narrators/ co-constructors, each having a responsibility and stake in the narrative process. In support of this, E l l i s and Bochner (2000) state: The narrative rises or falls on its capacity to provoke readers to broaden their horizons, reflect critically on their own experience, enter empathetically into worlds of experience different from their own, and actively engage in dialogue regarding the social and moral implications o f different perspectives and standpoints encountered. Invited to take the story in and use it for themselves, readers become coperformers, examining themselves through the evocative power of the narrative text. (p. 748) 41 Narrative's relationship to curriculum and education provides the opportunity for addressing a range o f socio-political and economic, environmental and cultural concerns through privileging different emphases on multiple 'p 's ' from "personal, postmodern, postcolonial, performative, pedagogical, and poetic perspectives" (Leggo, 1997, p . l ) , and through educators/researchers l iving or "lingering in the spaces" between curriculum 4 and narrative (Aoki in Leggo, 1997, p. 1). These liminal "spaces" are, however, not disconnects, but avenues of advantage for the reciprocity between educational discourse and practice and the many forms of narrative that provide credence to and embrace educational experiences. Graham (1993), in expounding on the nature of education, clarifies its connections with personal experience through narrative: Education is at once a narrative and political enterprise and ... the more we know about narrative and its many forms, the more we w i l l also come to know about the storied nature of the politics of personal experience, (p. 36) From this viewpoint, education and educational research can be interpreted as the construction, deconstruction and reconstruction of personal and social theories, emphasizing that we are all characters and storytellers in our own and others' life-stories (Connelly and Clandinin, 1990, p.2). Further, it presents a powerfully visible argument against "neutrality" in research methodologies, by recognizing that story is about the nature of interrelated and interdependent events (plot), in relation to place, situational context, and time (setting), both for the characters as well as the story-teller, and that story makes relative the elements of its construction. 42 Narrative or narrative inquiry is a form of arts-based research with a specifically, although not exclusively, narrative focus. It is a form o f qualitative educational research whose commitment to the arts, most especially literary arts, as a medium, interpretive tool, and philosophical and aesthetic orientation is foremost in research praxis. Barone and Eisner (1997) define what it means to say that an approach to educational research is arts-based, in the terms: Arts-based research is defined by the presence o f certain aesthetic qualities or design elements that infuse the inquiry and its writing. Although these aesthetic elements are in evidence to some degree in al l educational research activity, the more pronounced they are, the more the research may be characterized as arts based, (p. 73) It is interesting to see how Barone and Eisner avoid classifying it in definitive terms, but speak of it more in terms of an orientation and focus to research. They describe seven features o f arts-based educational inquiry: the creation o f a virtual reality; the presence of ambiguity; the use of expressive language; the use o f contextualized and vernacular language; the promotion of empathy; personal signature of the researcher/writer; and the presence of aesthetic form. These features lie at the heart, in al l senses of the word, of my own research and writing in both commitment and form. In this sense, I can say that I have approached my research, most especially its representation, within an arts-based framework with an emphasis on narrative. I have drawn on different literary sources, (South African and otherwise), literary styles and poetic forms infused within narrative, so as to blur genres (Geertz, 1988), create indeterminacy, a literary text which exhibits a state of being 43 indefinite and non-declarative (Maitre, 1983), and incorporate novelness within my research writing, which is conceived as the type o f writing that inspires some readers to enter into a dialogue with it (Bakhtin, 1981). The genre-blurring, indeterminate and dialogical features of the writing are crucial to the multi-focal/multi-vocal commitment of my research work, and to its reflexive and critical focus. They are exemplified, amongst other moments, in the many unanswered, unanswerable, or rhetorical questions I have asked through the text.5 Rather than relying too rigidly on theoretical argot (Barone and Eisner, 1997) the arts-based researcher depends on description, expression and thematics to facilitate and create meaning. In an elliptical way, the form of experience bequeaths the meaning and the meaning o f the experience. Barone and Eisner quote Dewey (1934) to differentiate how 'scientific' forms of educational representation state meaning, while 'artistic' forms express it: The poetic as distinct from the prosaic, esthetic art as distinct from scientific, expression as distinct from statement, does something different from leading to an experience. It constitutes one. (p. 75) Nevertheless, narrative, within an arts-based framework, most often "locates subtle but significant human activities within a recognizable sociohistorical context to bestow verisimilitude (Bruner, 1987) on the virtual world of the story" (Barone and Eisner, p. 74). Even as veracity is not sought as a research objective, verisimilitude renders it incapable of claiming 'truth' in any 'real' sense, as the 'real ' is continuously deferred and ungraspable. However, narrative is more readily able to provide the features for 44 resonance6 and recognition that appeal to intuition, immediacy and commonality within differing experiences, v ia the elements o f story. 7 While the prescribed form of traditional social science research often canalizes thought, narrative and arts-based inquiries require a "subtle twist of mind" (Connelly and Clandinin, 1990, p. 4), and place the inquirer and audience within another culture of thought.,8 More specifically, poetic perspectives within arts-based research are productive ways of engaging in and representing qualitative research using creative expression. Poetic practice helps one reimagine ways of understanding the familiar (Cahnmann, 2003, p. 32). A s Cahnmann says: A poet's pursuit is to find fresh ways o f expressing themes that have undoubtedly been addressed before - themes about love, death, social justice, home. A fresh way o f seeing requires the practice o f noticing (...). B y drawing on the unexpected and "assuming and exploiting a common frame o f reference" (Gioia, 1999, p. 31), poets achieve a concise ability to give language to the unsayable. (ibid.) Thus Saying, an important aspect of arts-based research, and one that is readily compatible with narrative, is poetry as a form o f inquiry. 9 I have used poetry in my own research representation to bridge other styles o f literary engagement, to provide another gaze on research issues that purposefully complicate meanings rather reduce or simplify them through mainstream language use, and to express meanings in different, sensitive and creative ways that are both provocative and evocative. Poetic form has permitted me to provide a vivid , lyrical, perspectival, and engaging expression o f research concerns that appeal to the emotional, sensual, intuitive, visceral and philosophical, and that 45 enhance meanings o f critical issues, maintain their complexity, and raise them to a more insightful, spiritual, heart-felt 1 0 and embodied dimension of human engagement. Narrative, poetry and other arts-based approaches to inquiry are not without their risks. There have been several criticisms directed at narrative inquiry that are worthy of considering in terms o f the potential dangers they pose. One o f the most frequent charges against some forms of narrative, according to Connelly and Clandinin (1990), is that, in certain cases, (such as in autoethnography) narrative stresses the individual over the social context, and that these narrative renditions do not sufficiently challenge critical dilemmas of a social nature related to the narrative context, and are, in themselves, not open to critical appraisal. Consequently, Connelly and Clandinin (1990), acknowledge the importance o f criticism in narrative inquiry. They say: "To dismiss criticisms of the personal and interpersonal in inquiry is to risk the dangers o f narcissism and solipsism. Narrative inquirers need to respond to critics either at the level of principle or with respect to a particular writing" They warn: "It is too easy to become committed to the whole, the narrative plot, and to one's own role in the inquiry and to lose sight of the various fine lines that one treads in the writing of a narrative" (p. 10). Connelly and Clandinin (1990) continue this thread to warn of "the Hollywood plot" where everything works out well and of Spence's notion of "narrative smoothing". They say that it is a question of becoming alert to the untold stories as much as to those that are told, and to attend to the "narrative secrets" in self-consciously discussing selectivities and limitations in the narrative inquiry process. Ironically, Wil l insky (1989) criticizes 46 Connelly and Clandinin's narrative work on "personal practical knowledge" by arguing that: personal practical knowledge risks complacency...risks becoming more therapeutic and reassuring than diagnostic and crit ical. . . .1 have pressed for the teacher within the realities o f the personal, practical ideologies o f power in educational systems as part o f the researcher's contribution to the collaborative process, (p. 262) This draws attention to one of the most significant dangers of narrative: to fail to address the structural and material conditions i n which people experience their lives. These conditions are embedded in the lived landscape o f experience and can be obscured or made to be invisible through the aesthetic mode of narrative construction. On the other hand, we must also not dismiss the aesthetic, the hopeful or the spiritual in favour of the reproduction of failure, disadvantage and despair. It is a double-edged spear. B y discursively embedding research participants entirely within the structural conditions o f their existence, through singularly deficit contextual description, is to disallow change and to lock them into these conditions, limiting alternate imagined possibilities o f being and experiencing, and consequently producing and reproducing social difference and pathology. Nevertheless, narrative provides opportunity for redress through stories o f reconciliation, human courage and devotion, the honouring o f collective and historical narratives, the evocation of ethical and moral commitments, and personal and social transformation through narrative journeying. Stories that remind us of who and what we were/are, by giving us (back) our collective memories, shape our constantly (co)emerging identities and the possibilities of who we can be. 47 Closely related to the above concern of "narrative smoothing", is the understanding that narrative, through its aesthetic, expressive and descriptive features, can be a very powerful orientalizing agent (Said, 1979), one which naturalizes and objectifies "others" in their contexts of being. The narrative provides a potentially powerful medium for the romanticizing and exotisizing of "other" cultures. These orientations are amongst the main concerns of critical ethnography, and whilst this "othering" process may never be completely eradicated from ethnographic research, the presence through personal inscription of the researcher in the construction o f narrative is critical in establishing more legitimate grounds for the interpretations made, albeit that they are ever partial, as wel l as for making visible the power relations between researcher and research participants. Narrative inquiry with limited critical and reflexive foci is vulnerable to dangerous naturalizing and pathologizing orientations. Another related danger lies in notions of "narrative unity" (Connelly and Clandinin, 1990, p.3). This is an ideal that can be sought, but never fully achieved. N o matter how close the collaborative relationship, the narrator-researcher is still the final authoritative voice through the research institution, and the differential in power relations between researcher and participants should not be obfuscated within the research project. Due to relations o f power and the differing positions o f researcher and participants in terms o f accountability, responsibility and institutional affiliations, selectivities and silences within research are inevitable. These should be fore-fronted in acknowledging how they might shape the priorities and form of the narrative within the constraining context of 48 institutional requirements. The context o f the research, the research question, and the research initiative are informed by the predisposition o f the researcher, as fieldwork is inextricably resourced within an institutional framework and from a material base. Often insufficiently acknowledged, we must remember that the researcher writes for a particular academic audience and this (re)produces various positions of power within this delimiting context. Consequently, accountability for analysis and narrative construction falls on the researcher/narrator in the main and not the research community or participants, irrespective of proximity in collaborative process. These research limitations apply equally to certain rhetorical claims of "own voice" prevalent in some feminist literature.1 1 The danger in the narrator/researcher's claiming that the participants speak in their "own voices" through her research work lies in its denial of the selectivities, priorities and silences created in the construction of narrative as well as the context in which the voices are heard. This claim denies access to a critique of the researcher's analysis, as the critic is placed in an invidious position and the "voices" are beyond reproach. Nor does it take cognizance of the contexts in which the voices are produced, what power relations are reproduced and how these voices may have different realizations in different contexts; in other words, how they are differently framed or recontextualized across settings. The contexts o f hearing story and writing story are very different. The author/audience of both forms of account "recruit selectively from different settings to establish their own positions" (Ensor, 1996, p. 1). In this way, whatever the evoking context, subjectivities are foregrounded or backgrounded in context, certain repertoires or positions are indexed over others. This motivates the selective recruitment 49 of linguistic and somatic performances. That is, the context of the narrative inquiry (and its various settings) calls forth or interpellates certain subjectivities or positions (example: researcher, narrator, research participant) and backgrounds others (example: friend, woman, neighbour). The complexity of these relationships and how they are reconfigured across contexts needs to be acknowledged. A further danger exists with narrative if it too closely begins to take on set schemata. Narrative inquiry should never become another prescription for research, or encourage the understanding that "we have arrived" or are closer to "the truth" in any way. Narrative inquiry relies on criteria other than validity, reliability and generalizability, and is still only one means of achieving research understandings. This is despite its being capable of a broad focus and research terrain that attempts to (re)articulate lived experiences in a palpable, compelling and expressive manner, within the context of its construction. Narrative does have the advantage of drawing on all the senses. It is appealing to body, mind and spirit in a more organic and holistic manner in which personal and social identities are constantly relational, shifting and emergent as the narrative unfolds. It is therefore more useful to see narrative and narrative inquiry as an ongoing, (co)emerging development of identity, ideas and ideals, rather than as a bounded research object that necessitates final closure. In this way, narrative/narrative inquiry is a process of continuous metaphoring or narratizing and resists being temporally and spatially contained and formalized into a set of procedures or prescriptions. Rather than solutions and recommendations being its research goals, more 50 contingent evolutionary aspirations of resolve, commitment, transformation, transcendence, renewal and insight might hold more profound importance. To situate my own work within this discussion, the question can be asked: What, therefore, are the purposes and motivations of my own engagement with narrative and arts-based inquiry in this research project? Firstly, I have embraced narrative and other forms of arts-based inquiry to engage with sensitive research dilemmas, disjunctures, paradoxes and controversies so as to grapple with, and hopefully sometimes grasp, nuance, subtlety, contingency and complexity as they play out in often, difficult narrative moments within the research contexts. Narrative offers the opportunity to broaden the horizon on these issues by incorporating discussions on ideological positions within the broader social domain of discourses as they inform the narrative moments. I have drawn on theory and political commentary as the research narratives unfold, and where the journey has taken me many places, both literally and metaphorically. The narratives and research context have informed theoretical relevance, rather than been performances of preconception. I have viewed every aspect of the research experience as being organically interdependent, as representing an unbounded whole, and as a continuing narrative journey in which my own personal, academic, intellectual and spiritual journey has been intricately interwoven. There have been epiphanies and life-changing events en route that have shaped my narratives, the way I have engaged with them, how I have lived them out, and my personal identity in relation to my research and to others who have intersected my journey's many paths. 51 In alignment with my personal convictions, I have attempted to tell intricate, provocative and contentious stories, to facilitate greater depth and critical focus within mathematics education research towards the greater purpose of broadening the debate on social justice ideals and the possibilities of a more egalitarian society. This has meant directing the narratives towards critical meanings, and attempting to be aware of their potential limitations. Bernstein (2000) views different forms of knowledge as having different inherent structures and propensities. He defines two forms of knowledge, vertical and horizontal discourses, whose inherent propensities give rise to the reproduction of very different further forms of knowledge or ways of knowing. Vertical discourses produce stratified hierarchies of knowledge. They are open to specialization and increasing forms of abstraction, as in the Mathematical Sciences and other specializations akin to science. Horizontal discourses do not lend themselves to specialization and do not easily produce further knowledge that is abstracted and decontextualized from its defining principles. Everyday knowledge might be considered a horizontal discourse, embedded and re-embedded in the grounded happenings of everyday events. Itself most often grounded in human experience, narrative might be considered a horizontal discourse in expression and form. Its unbounded, rhyzomatic and integrative form lends credence to viewing it as a potentially vast, open landscape within which negotiated meanings are produced and modulated, rather than as a bounded, hierarchy within which specific and specialized meanings are reproduced intralogically. 52 I have embraced narrative in this research for these very qualities, its proclivity to produce a proliferation of unfettered meanings within a landscape of possibilities. I have done so for a number of important reasons. Firstly, I have chosen to embrace it witMn a Mathematics Education Research context, which has historically distanced itself from arts-based interpretations of its methods, knowledge base and practices. As a consequence of the positivist-inspired dichotomy engendered between the Arts and Sciences, narrative and arts-based research orientations within Mathematics Education Research have been largely absent, compounding its "internalism" (Skovsmose and Valero, 2001). Research within the International Mathematics Education community has most often attempted to emulate the discursive and empirical forms of the Sciences in its commitment and objectives, narrowing the possibilities of other interpretative possibilities of rendering meaningful understandings. The dualism between the Arts and Sciences has investment in Western/Eurocentric thought and the authority of the Sciences hinges on dichotomous assumptions of their material and epistemological distinctions. Mathematics Education research has shied away from the Arts, perceived from a positivist Scientific gaze as the weaker position, but recruiting, instead, the self-acclaimed 'authority' and supremacy of the Sciences for its legitimacy within the academy. I have advanced an arts-based approach in order to provide a broader base for interpretive possibilities, to challenge the existing interpretations of what Mathematics Education Research ought to look like, to contest the power principles that self-define and limit 'the sayable' within Mathematics Education Research, and to deepen and extend its 53 understandings and academic engagement beyond the usual, orthodox terrain of Scientific/ Social Science research. This approach contests the principles o f power that provide Mathematics Education Research with 'scientific' legitimacy, and it offers opportunities for alternate, previously-illegitimated interpretations, which I believe has the potential to broaden the field and make worthy contributions. 1 4 Secondly, I have not avoided self-inscription in my narrative writing within this research project, and acknowledge how my perspectives, location as researcher, and personal experiences (as my positions o f insider and outsider constantly mutate within the research context) have informed my construction of ideas and narrative telling. Therefore, it makes sense that the many subject positions and identities one takes on in daily life, and the memories that are formulated as they are reconfigured across time and place throughout one's life journey, would inform the very experiences that consequently infuse the narratives. 1 come from a background in the performing arts where my experiences in dance and drama and secondary schooling in the arts have shaped who I am. Having chosen to pursue the Mathematical Sciences at tertiary level education, I have often been in positions where it was expected o f me to deny my artistic background and repress artistic expression as i f these were inferior or invalid contributions to make in the Wor ld of Science. The principle of power within scientific discourse which situates it in the lofty position as presiding judge over other 'lesser' discourses, provide evoking contexts where 54 certain personal performances are illegitimated and control is established around what constitutes 'scientific' space. Consequently, narrative-based interpretations are not well established in the mathematics education research field as they are in other qualitative research domains. I have chosen, therefore, in this research project, to resist the expected norms within mainstream mathematics education research that would have me reify my science background over my arts one. I therefore offer a fuller range of both my science and arts identities, in a more integrative and holistic manner, through my research orientation and the versatility of my analytical and interpretive thinking, writing and expression. Thirdly, I strongly support the use of narrative and the arts in pedagogic practice in the mathematics classroom as a means of engaging students in school mathematics learning. I have, as well, encouraged its use in teacher education programs and made use of arts-based approaches, such as dance, drama, visual art and narrative, towards more integrative, synergistic, engaging and embodied practices that would motivate students intrinsically, rather than extrinsically. Extrinsic motivation calls on mathematics' economic and technological use-value, its perceived importance in the workplace, and its potential to provide socio-economic and material advancement for individuals through access to its skill-base. Instead, I have encouraged the perception of mathematics as a beautiful and worthy human contribution, albeit grounded in contested stories about socio-cultural, historical, religious and political 55 endeavours, and carrying strongly ideological slants. B y viewing mathematics as a landscape o f storied meanings, creating elliptical pedagogies and ways of knowing, rather than a phallic o f linear, abstract knowledge, I have offered a view o f it beyond the narrow, instrumental, evaluative form most often presented in school mathematics curricula, towards one which may be more personally meaningful, and facilitate psychological well being rather than motivate through threat. I strongly believe that this more holistic approach provides greater access to the regulating principles of mathematics in the longer term and more meaningful personal and social empowerment. A n arts-based approach, therefore, is grounded in the belief that it achieves the ends of greater critical focus and personal autonomy in mathematics learning. This approach has been at the core o f my own philosophy of mathematics education premised on egalitarian ideals of access to mathematics for everyone. It is, therefore, appropriate for me to use arts-based / narrative approaches in my research in alignment with my personal philosophy and identity. Fourthly, I have embraced narrative in sensitivity to the context within which my research was undertaken. I engaged in fieldwork in 2001 within mathematics classrooms and communities o f practice within vastly different socio-economic contexts in South Africa. The political climate within this country, the country of my birth, is one of poignancy, complexity and change, demanding vigilance in attending to the nuanced variations and subtleties in perspective, across local and national levels, and requires penetrating perception, sensitivity and subtlety. South Africa has undergone 5 6 unprecedented political change in the last decade or more and its history is marked by conflict, political dilemma and controversy. However, its human potential, resourcefulness, and collective capacity to rise above adversity and succeed against overwhelming odds are a testament to the goodwill and reconciliatory approach found within its collective human spirit o f a nation determined to succeed. This is clearly evident in South Africa's success in overcoming the bloody consequence o f full-blown revolution, which was predestined to be the inevitable outcome of its racially divided history. Narrative provides an appropriate, dialogicaj and explorative forum for engaging more sensitively, humanely and respectfully with complex issues in this research context, straddling the tensions between reproducing deficit and maintaining a critical focus. Fifthly, this last point relates directly to cultural and contextual appropriateness in using narrative as a method to gain nuance and perspective. The previously mentioned notion of narrative as a culture of thought can be further developed to encompass a discussion on alternative research methodologies and the legitimization of other cultural epistemologies, practices and norms. A s Watkins (1993) claims: Eurocentric analysis is viewed as linear. Rooted in empiricism, rationalism, scientific method and positivism, its aim is prediction and control... . African epistemology, on the other hand, is circular (Asante, 1987) and seeks interpretation, expression, and understanding without preoccupation with verification. (Watkins, 1993, p. 331) Narrative inquiry presents an alternative research approach to the dominant discursive traditions of academic research in which are embedded the positivist tenets of Western 57 thought, and opens up possibilities for the legitimization and celebration o f other cultural norms. A s an example, the narrative as a form o f expression of understanding the lived experience has greater possibilities of being more consonant with "African-centred ways of knowing" (Dei, 1996, p. 22). Perhaps it is because it possesses the "fundamental structure of human experience" (Connelly and Clandinin, 1991, p. 121) or it has a "holistic quality" (ibid.) that invites these connections and opens up possibilities of threading theory and practice i n ways that provide recognition of these cultural discourses, pedagogies, practices or "indigenous knowledges" (Dei, 1996). It could be argued, therefore, that this form of inquiry might wel l be appropriate for research in an African context. This is in consideration of and in respect o f aspects o f the cultural contexts and some of the social norms of the communities in which I engaged in research. I 'd like to return, for a moment, to the discussion on horizontal and vertical discourses as they relate to the production o f knowledge, and examine more penetratingly on how this debate has motivated and informed my use of narrative in this research project within a mathematics education research context. While narrative may be constituted as a horizontal discourse, and may even possess the potential to produce circularity in consonance with African epistemology, I have used it also in a way to broaden the scope of what constitutes text for discussion and analysis within Mathematics Education research. The research experiences provided the terrain in which my particular journey found route and I wove my narratives from the intellectual, physical and metaphorical 58 wanderings within the broad landscape o f possibilities. However, there were times when I used narrative moments to stop and linger on the narratizability o f the textual moments, and to produce "cross-sections" of horizontal wanderings. These "cross-sections" of narrative happenings allowed me to attend more carefully and penetratingly into issues o f a critical nature. This often produced vertical discourses at these narrative moments where I was able to theorize on important concerns related to my research, but also opened up the opportunity to broaden the debates beyond the events o f the moment so that horizontal discourse again came in to play. I am aware that through 'narrative smoothing' as previously mentioned, narrative might be used to obfuscate, compress, conflate or relativize positions through the alluring quality of its aesthetic form, constituting horizontal discursive elements throughout. Nevertheless, narrative has allowed me to explore horizontally the diversity of issues embedded in the textual map of research experiences, while engaging vertically in critical issues through lingering on and penetrating crucial narrative moments to their fullest, thereby avoiding 'narrative smoothing'. The critical issues are explored reflexively and self-inscription is necessary to the narratizing, thereby increasing the dimensionality, through a multi-faceted perspective of the narratives, with the intention of providing a richer, more embodied account. Metaphorically, this could be viewed as a multi-dimensional, moving and undulating landscape o f meanings, across space and time, that highlight fissures and crevices in the textu(r)al map of research. Here, the research experience is a journey across a rugged terrain of research issues and events, rising and falling on its narratizing. 59 Although I was convinced that narrative would be the most appropriate methodology for me to embrace for this research project prior to fieldwork, my final affirmation came when I was interviewing a teacher, of mixed-race decent, from an elementary school in an informal settlement. Having no private place in the school to tape-record the interview, I invited h im to lunch in a nearby shopping mall. A s we sat eating our lunch in the appealing ambiance of the restaurant, he related stories o f his experiences teaching mathematics in the settlement school. A t the beginning, I was conscious of the sound o f a high-powered electric d r i l l hammering away somewhere in the background and kept on wondering i f the interview would be recording clearly. He began to weep as he described how he could always see on the faces of his girl students when they had been raped by their drunken fathers or brothers the night before; that they had a particular look and that he learned how to recognize it. I watched how the tears rolled off his long black eyelashes and down his gentle cheeks before dripping into his food. "The pain," he said quietly. "The pain. . . . So much pain." Soon I began to weep myself, but the dril l still hammered on intermittently, indifferent to the pain of others' pain we were both experiencing, bent on its purpose of extending the size o f the shopping mall. More shops. More and more exclusive boutiques. While the monotone hammer of the dri l l marked the drive of consumerism within a 'developing' globalized economy, it drove out the sound of the sobs relating to the desperate experiences of a nearby community living in abject poverty. 6 0 This experience took place within the recent temporal space of post-apartheid South Africa, where the despairing discrepancy between the 'have' and the 'have-nots', despite the rise o f a new black bourgeoisie, has widened alarmingly in comparison with the socio-economic discrepancies o f the apartheid era, as the "new" South Afr ica embraces global economic capitalism. L iv ing this research moment, the contradictions were sonorous and v iv id . Only narrative could capture this dramatic irony, not allowing its meaning to slip away into the silence o f formal social science reporting. This confirmed for me, as did many other such moments, that not only was narrative appropriate, useful, and creative, but also necessary. 1 5 In the end, it is about noticing, attending and authentic listening, not only with the senses and the mind, but also with the heart. A n d so I return to my original story. I am no longer eight years old. I hope I am no longer foolish, or as naive as to believe that 'telling tales' in themselves may help or liberate another. Just as before, I cannot claim truth. I hope that my tale-telling is not an act of selfishness, disguised as kindness. But I also know that there is certain resonance between the motivations behind my 'telling tales' before and the tales I now tell. I know that I tell them as part of my very being, and that they come from the source o f my soul. I tell them so that I am not merely an 'onlooker' to those who may be victimized either by others, by conditions in which they live, or a global system o f circumstances which coalesce towards victimization of some while others advantage by it. I hope, through my actions and the stories I tell, not to reproduce deficit discourse and create guilt. A t eight years old, I took the dignity away from a young boy by my actions in what I thought at the time was an act of compassion. I hope to give it back to him now as I claim my own 61 integrity through relating the tale of his victimization. Consequently, I hope not to take dignity away from the people and places that are the fabric of my stories. I hope to honour them and to give poignancy to their lived experiences. But I also hope, through sensitivity, integrity, and the evocative and provocative powers of narrative, to give back dignity instead. I am reminded of the words of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (2002) in a foreword to his book on African folktales. He says: Because a story is a story; and you may tell it as your imagination and your being and your environment dictate; and if your story grows wings and becomes the property of others, you may not hold it back. One day it will return to you, enriched by new details and with a new voice, (p.7) Perhaps the stories I now tell will grow wings and fly.16 And perhaps they may come back to me with renewed hope and meaning. Perhaps, too, they will give me my own dignity in their telling and in giving them away. 62 ENDNOTES 1 The policy of Apartheid ('separateness'), espoused by the ruling National Party in South Africa, was a central theme in the development of public policy following the second world war until, although to a diminishing degree, the inception of democracy in 1994. It found clear expression in the publicly funded education system, where Christian National Education (CNE) became the medium through which the state was able to 'teach' and justify the political and socio-economic raison d'etre for apartheid. It was a natural corollary for the ecumenical dogma espoused by the predominantly Afrikaans Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk, which also used the pulpit to rationalise political philosophy in religious terms. Instruction in segregated white and black state schools followed curricula laden with 'working' examples of separateness in race groups. A recurring theme in Social Studies and other subjects followed the religious analogy that blacks were 'hewers of wood and drawers of water', although this was not always blatant. Other central tenets echoed in CNE included that there was no need for black South Africans to learn mathematics because they would never hold jobs where this was a requirement, and that this was an essentially useless exercise anyway because 'the Bantu is a slow thinker' (Minister Hennie Smit, a former Minister of Education, quoted in Hansard of the 1960's). To summarise, CNE comprised three major tenets: a) . It was a proponent of Calvinism which prescribed a particular conservative worldview; b) . It had militaristic components so that there was synergism between corporal methods adopted in the schooling context and 'protection of state' philosophies; c) . It forwarded a notion of nationhood premised on love and respect for 'die Vaderland'. The methods used to indoctrinate were both 'overt' and 'covert'. The lack of division between church and state was a crucial aspect in ensuring that the state maintained its hegemony in an integrative way, thus increasing the opportunities for capturing the hearts and minds of student and teacher alike. Conservative Calvinism reinforced this doctrine on Sundays, while the state-controlled media covered the rest of the week. Corporal punishment in schools perpetuated the doctrine's enforcement. National service for 'whites' in the defense force was simply a 'natural' extension of all these methods, if a somewhat more harsh version, aided and abetted by the (perceived) reality of 'the war on terrorism'. It is, therefore, ironic that this same terminology ('the war on terrorism') is again being applied, but in a more global context, during my completion of this project in a post-9/11 world. [See also, Christie (1986): The Right to Learn]. 63 2 See Genette (1980) for engagement with narrative curricula through the three lenses of: "narrative" or "narrative statement"; "story"; and "narrating" or "telling". Here, "telling" incorporates not only the context of story, but the context in which the story is narrated, including its rules for legitimacy and regulating principles. 3 In the educational arena, narrative as an epistemology has produced a proliferation of modes of inquiry as well as educational engagement, and operates in a variety of ways. While it often serves the purpose of reflexivity towards identity-creation in pedagogic practices and the illumination of pedagogic ideas and concerns in the teacher education domain, it serves progressive education ideals in curricula and practice within schools as well. As Conle (2003) asserts: "The use of narrative in schools ranges from the proposed need for meta-narratives and stories-to-live-by (Postman, 1995) to moral education (Oser, 1994; Puka, 1990) to important components of general re-orientation in education (Egan, 1997)" (p.4). Nevertheless, narrative curricula are historically linked to narrative research (see Conle, 2000), which has produced a range of emergent forms. Narratology, ("the study of ways humans experience the world" [Connelly and Clandinin, 1990, p.2]), as well as narrative inquiry, (a research medium and epistemology premised on narrative engagements), narrative writing/ representation/ performance, are some of the expressions of sub-fields of study (although not adhering to any strict classifications) or orientations of research with their own narrative-based emphases, each finding and establishing legitimacy within the qualitative, social science, research field. 4 Here curriculum is viewed in its broadest sense, not confined to meanings of educational content knowledge and schooling syllabi. It can be interpreted in multiple forms under the umbrella of "curriculum as understanding" (Pinar, Reynolds, Slattery and Taubman, 1995) including curriculum as lived. 5 The many unanswered, unanswerable, or rhetorical questions I have asked throughout the text, resist the traditional social science research orientation that expects recommendations and reducible, containable solutions to complex, dilemmatic situations. 6 As Conle (2003) states: 64 Narrative moments of encounter are characterized by what I have called "resonance" (1996), that is, the spontaneous metaphorical connection of parts of one's own life to the parts of a narrative statement one is hearing or reading. Feelings and images described elicit "me too" reactions and memories from one's own experience. Narrative encounters that bring about a great many of such connections are particularly productive curricular events because they facilitate a potential reshaping of one's prior experiences in light of the current encounter (Gerrig, 1993). (p. 11) Resonance is a thematic connection with personal, imaginative repertoires of experience, and is crucial in producing meaning through narrative at various levels and from different perspectives. The writer/narrator relies strongly on this resonant connection for the story to have appeal and produce meanings. Interestingly, Conle refers to "narrative moments of encounter" to explain the importance of resonance to narrative engagements. 7 In this sense, narrative/arts-based inquiry resists being held to ransom by the more scientific imperatives of standardization and generalizability in research methods and objectives. As Cahnmann (2003) notes: Once we realize that all claims to "scientific truth" are suspect, influenced by the culturally bound nature of the researcher's text, we can free ourselves to write in ways that name and claim feeling, story, and relationship. In so doing we wil l be better equipped to communicate findings in multidimensional, penetrating, and more accessible ways. (p. 33) 8 One possible way of describing narrative inquiry as a research medium is as a culture of thought (where I define "culture", for the purposes of this discussion, as a set of interrelated understandings, beliefs, epistemologies, discourses or practices which are distinct from others in one or more ways. I acknowledge, however, the socially constructed nature of the term, its varied linguistic uses and contextual differences of interpretation). As mentioned, Connelly and Clandinin (1990), in respect of narrative inquiry in educational research, remark that: "Seeing and describing story in the everyday actions of teachers, students, administrators, and others requires a subtle twist of mind on behalf of the inquirer. It is in telling and retelling that entanglements become acute, for it is here that temporal and social, cultural horizons are set and reset" (p.4, own emphasis). This metaphor of "entanglement" and its associations with "temporal and social, cultural horizons", rightfully serves to provide a perception of a difficult terrain of inquiry, where obstacles prevent proper engagement and connection with all the elements of the discourse(s) in a paradigm of research which possesses multiple contexts and "horizons". The "twist of the mind" required is one of learning to become a cultural participant in a collaborative narrative space that 65 is continuously negotiated and contested on different social, temporal and spiritual levels. It can be conceptualized as an alternative (or particular) culture of thought (and even contortion of mental presence and subjective positioning) that requires consideration of multiple entry-points into the narrative context. And even this contextual space is constantly shifting and under revision. These mental gymnastics challenge the objectifying gaze of dominant social and cultural discourses entrenched within positivistic Western/Eurocentric thought and serve to liberate and revitalize more subordinated epistemological, cognitive and cultural discourses. 9 Cahnmann (2003) noticed how poetic form helped her to visualize, express and notice aspects of her fieldwork that were not noticed/ noticeable and attended to before. She realized how she had previously brought everyday deficit theories with her into the research context, which limited her from seeing the full scope of life within that community. Poetic engagement allowed her to express feeling, and see the contradictions, dualities, and paradoxes (p. 33). 1 0 In addressing the contribution of 'feeling' in narrative work, Ellis and Bochner (2000) refer to Stake's notion of 'naturalistic generalization', which they define as that which "brings 'felt' news from one world to another and provides opportunities for the reader to have vicarious experience of the things told" (p. 751). While I support alternative interpretations of generalizability in qualitative or arts-based research work, I am not convinced that 'naturalistic generalizability' is the most appropriate term, as 'naturalistic' suggests "naturalism", a highly relativistic research position to adopt in ethnographically oriented fieldwork, and is counter-logical to the principles and ideals of critical engagement. Nevertheless, the importance of 'feeling' and emotion, and the need for conscientizing through empathetic engagement and the appeal to commonality of experiences, as a critical narrative contribution to an alternative interpretation of an aspect of generalizability, should not be underrated. Perhaps, 'empathetic generalizability' or 'resonant generalizability' would be more appropriate descriptive terms. " An example of this is the work of Casey (1993) who claims that her participants speak in their "own voices" and that they are "authors of their own lives" through her research in developing life histories of women working for social change. This is not to deny the importance of voice in narrative research, nor to de-emphasize or ineffectualize what is a very commendable research objective: the validation, celebration and legitimization of previously silenced voices. 66 Connelly and Clandinin (1991) evoke Barmen's notion of the self as being "plurivocal" as a means of addressing these multiple subjectivities. They fail, however, to address the complexity of these subjectivities across different settings and within different contextual relationships when they say: "in living the narrative inquiry process, we are one person" (p. 9). 1 3 In this way, I have attempted to resist phallacial, pre-authored forms of traditional theoretical frameworks and research methodologies that tend to be bounded, stationary and delimiting. 1 4 Asserting that school mathematics largely commits to the hegemonies and hierarchies within the disciplines of mathematics and science in general, and is strongly informed by socio-economic and technological imperatives, the dissertation investigates some of the problematic socio-cultural practices that school mathematics supports, and how these are realized in and across different contexts. 1 5 As Charmaz and Mitchell (1997) aver: "Evocative forms of writing are not merely desirable; they are essential" (p. 195). 1 6 "Perhaps the stories I now tell will grow wings and fly": This is, perhaps, key to understanding and achieving the criteria for pedagogies of transcendence, as a worthy means towards egalitarianism and social justice, i.e. pedagogies of liberation. 67 UNFOLDING THE MAP The truth is that we are not yet free; we have merely achieved the freedom to be free, the right not to be oppressed. We have not taken the final step of our journey, but the first step on a longer and even more difficult road. For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others. The true test of our devotion to freedom is just beginning. I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on a distance I have come. But I can rest only for a moment, for with freedom comes responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not yet ended. Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (Long Walk to Freedom, 1994, p. 617) Arduous journeys require some preparation. It is best for the traveler to know, to some degree, where to start out, where she is generally directed, i f not in detail, and what she hopes to achieve by journeying, even i f she doesn't know where the route may lead her. A t the outset, she needs to know why she wants to embark on such a journey, and not on another or not at al l , in the first place. Arduous journeys require clear motivation and firm commitment. I have spent some time explaining my commitment to narrative in my research, as a means o f dialogically exploring ways of understanding my greater commitment of social justice and democracy through the ideals of an egalitarian society. I can begin to do this by offering a contribution of expertise, hope and dedication through my life's work and experiences. Besides my Arts background, where I have been involved in both dance and drama at a professional level after having been schooled in the dance and dramatic arts at secondary school level, I pursued the Sciences and Education as well . After completing degrees in Mathematics and Education, I taught secondary school mathematics, and to a lesser degree - drama and dance, in a variety of contexts in two countries for more than fifteen years. Over this time, I have witnessed, through personal teaching experience and research, how students (and teachers) who carry constructions of social difference are subordinated within the schooling institution in relation to school mathematics and to other students (and teachers) who are provided with greater access to the "regulating principles" (Dowling, 1998) of this discourse through differentiated practices. I have seen 69 how delimiting and destructive these experiences have been for the subordinated. I have seen how covertly, yet visibly, this 'system' operates and how pronounced it is, especially in certain highly "stratified" contexts, with well-demarcated hierarchies, compared to other more "differentiated" contexts (Bernstein, 2000). Nevertheless, I have seen how delimiting and oppressive contexts reproduce the conditions of "failure" more indelibly, more destructively. In both Canada and South Africa, I have witnessed the psychological and sociological impact of these schooling experiences, most poignantly with respect to mathematics, which carries disproportionately significant power and prominence in the social domain. I have witnessed the impact on the lives of many students and teachers and how these have shaped and delimited their future experiences.1 I have also, in the past, engaged in research in this area of the sociology of mathematics education, in an attempt to better understand the contextual circumstances and prevailing principles of power of discourses in the social domain that give rise to realizations of "success" and "failure". The motivations of this research were guided by a desire to attempt to effect ways of being and knowing with the purposes of re-imagining more egalitarian possibilities of experience for members of such pedagogic communities. This revisioning is directed towards more transformative practices, where this is possible, and in consideration of the situatedness of experiences and the recognition of constraining contextual elements pivotal to enabling pedagogies - ones which might lead to both mathematical and material empowerment for all. 70 I therefore bring my life experiences as a whole to this commitment. I am aware that the contributions I offer are not drawn solely from my research experiences over a three month period (June - August, 2001). I acknowledge that they are from all o f my life: my personal convictions, my sensibilities, my talents and weaknesses, my moral and ethical convictions, my life philosophy and worldview, and the myriad o f daily experiences I've had that coalesce to continuously shape and reshape my identity. M y previous Masters research, completed in 1998, was an inquiry into how socially constructed difference is established, created and constituted within school mathematics. In clarifying what I mean by 'social difference' discourses, these refer to constructions on race, class, ethnicity, gender, cultural difference, poverty, language difference, experiential difference, religion, sexual-orientation, dis/ability, amongst other positions -al l o f which are resources for prejudice, or worse - structural inequalities within legitimating contexts. These positions, whose variously intersecting formulations carry differing emphases, produce a range o f subject positions within a particular evoking context which consequently relate to various positions of failure, deficit, or subordination compared with other, more enabling positions. These positions are established in relation to discourses such as mathematics education, so that constructions such as 's low learners', 'good in the Arts only', 'learning disability', amongst others, are produced. The research project examined the relationship between discourse and practice within an elitist all-boys independent secondary school environment in South Africa. In particular, it examined how a group of 'black' male students, spoken about in terms of various forms 71 o f social difference and deficit \vithin the school environment (such as experiential lack, language and cultural difference, race and poverty), were afforded differentiated practices in the mathematics classroom, thus holding them to positions of subordination. In other words there was a concomitant relationship between discourse and practice, i.e. socially constructed "disadvantage" and pedagogized disadvantage were mutually constitutive. Thus, the reciprocity i n discourse and practice in the construction o f disadvantage was complete. However, the particular nature of the schooling ethos and culture, and its role in creating and maintaining boundaries, thereby producing and reproducing forms of power and control, assisted in the construction of disadvantage and pedagogizing of difference in the mathematics classroom and school at large. M y current research expands upon previous research by broadening the focus and exploring how constructed disadvantage is constituted and realized in school mathematics in and across different contexts, whether socio-economic, pedagogic, geographical-political, or an infusion of contextual positions and emphases. While my previous research focused on one elitist, stratified, school, my doctoral research looks at both an elitist context and other contexts o f 'poverty' in examining how disadvantage is reconfigured, or recontextualized, within different mathematics classrooms. Strong emphasis was placed on the more constraining contexts of 'poverty' , however, as minimal international mathematics education research has been directed towards understanding mathematics learning and ways of being within such marginalized schooling contexts. But, the greater contribution of the current project is its reflexive and 72 critical focus, its narrative and arts-based methodology and interdisciplinarity, and its explicitly dialogical commitment to social justice and democracy. The raison d'etre for undertaking research in the South African context is multi-faceted. Firstly, this project w i l l be completed ten years after the first democratic elections in this country. The last decade or more marks a period o f unprecedented socio-political and economic change in South Africa, reflected most poignantly in the educational arena where segregated schools have been integrated en masse. This decade has seen the institution o f anew educational dispensation, reflecting the high egalitarian ideals enshrined in the new democratic constitution. In its application, there have been tremendous successes, but there have also been recidivistic difficulties in trying to achieve harmonious objectives in resistant or vulnerable contexts. Secondly, having lived and taught i n South Afr ica for most of my life, I bring considerable experience to bear on this research context. In this sense I could be considered an "insider" on educational and experiential issues in this context, although productive qualitative research makes visible the many moments where changing contexts shift the emphases of 'insider/ outsider' relationships as subjectivities mutate according to changing contextual priorities. When I have been aware o f this happening, I have attempted to make it explicit in the interests of a critical reflexive approach to qualitative research. Further, doing research in a 'known' context of South Africa, but from another 'known' Canadian institutional context, and the competing relations of 73 power informed by these positions, was ever present in my consciousness as potential resources for the production o f multiple, often conflicting, subject positions. Finally, the South African Context has been marked historically by controversy, contestation and conflict, and in recent times, by rapid change as well . This has highlighted the many difficulties invoked through processes o f change. But, it has also produced the advantage of being able "to see" more vividly the effects of conflict and change on research texts, such as classrooms, schools and educational institutions. While the effects are more dramatic or visible, they highlight dangers. Areas of concern are often pronounced within mutating contexts, providing opportunities to notice and clarify problematic issues. Legitimating spaces may even open up for constructive transformation, but areas of concern may often become manifest in the attending dilemmas, contradictions or ambiguities produced. Nevertheless, similar or related issues are also experienced in other contexts, such as the Canadian context, and may well have the added dangers of being less visible for a variety o f reasons, such as the obfuscation or 'unseeability' of 'poverty' related issues because the broader geographical-political context appears to have greater overall economic wealth. The forward thrust of technological advancement is one such discourse of power that often hides problematic structural inequalities in contexts where it is advanced (to excuse the pun) as the solution to societal i l ls . Thus, contexts that produce more visible realizations of problematic issues are useful in helping us examine more covert or less 74 visible realizations in other contexts, so that we are ever vigilant and constantly attending to these silences. The context of change in South Africa has been somewhat advantageous from a research point of view in that it has proliferated new issues, new concerns and raised new questions, as well as opened the opportunity to view old ones through new lenses. In essence, the research undertaken in South Africa has strong implications for mathematics education research in a variety of contexts, including Canadian ones, and strongly and uniquely contributes to the international mathematics education field at large. Briefly, my physical research journey was a fascinating one, where I began in Johannesburg in June 2001, winter in that region, by attending a highly regarded, national, mathematics education conference with prominent international speakers. It was a conference with a majority of black African delegates, reflecting more representatively the 'new' South Africa. Participants ranged from teachers and administrators, to mathematics and mathematics education academics. I elaborate on it further in one of my narratives: Cultural Beads and Mathematical A.I.D.S. At the close of the conference, my daughter, who was accompanying me on my research travels, and I then took a lift (a ride) with two of the delegates to a rural area of the Eastern Cape region, which has been historically an impoverished area of the country. There, I visited a farm school, which I elaborate on in another narrative: States of Nature. Our following travels took us to the Western Cape region in time for the opening of 75 schools after the mid-year vacations. The South African school year, like most other Southern Hemisphere countries, runs from January to December. It was i n three schools, two secondary and one elementary (primary) school, that comprehensive research was undertaken. Over a two month period, research in these schools within the greater Cape Town region took the form of participant observation and interviews, while I documented narrative moments i n extensive field notes throughout the research process. This meant choosing to be open to narratives offered by others o f their lives and experiences at a l l times, and not only under interview conditions. There were many discussions and dialogues along the way that informed my research, my identity co-constructively, and both in relation to each other. More than forty hours o f interviews were tape-recorded, and there were more than forty hours spent in participant observations within mathematics classrooms. But all events, no matter how dramatic or insignificant, were viewed as textual resources for potential analysis, dialogue and narration, so that the research experience was an ever narratizing journeying, both pedagogic and personal. A t the end o f this period, my daughter and I flew from Cape Town back to Johannesburg, to complete a cyclical journey, before returning to Vancouver, Canada, in early September 2 0 0 1 . Fieldwork, therefore, directly preceded the September 11 T H 'terrorist attacks' in the United States, which marked a significant turn in world politics. 76 Special permission must be sought from South Africa's provincial education departments before any researcher, whether from an internal or external institution, is allowed to work in any South African educational institution, most especially schools. This is over and above any ethical review documentation endorsed by the home research institution. Permission to undertake research in South Afr ica is sought after and is not easily granted, because o f historical abuses to the system, by both internal and external agencies/ researchers, and in respect o f the many ethical considerations involved. I encountered no difficulties with this process and was granted permission by the provincial department. I spent two days visiting several schools in the Cape Town region to determine which might be appropriate for my current research. The Western Cape Education Department gave me permission to engage in research at several schools, but I decided to focus on three schools only, within a twenty-five kilometre radius of each other, to ensure a richer and more intimate research experience. Two o f the schools displayed a very marked difference from the third school in terms o f the socio-economic context from which the community was drawn, as wel l as differences in racial profile. The motivating factors for the choice o f schools were their marked contextual differences and proximity to each other. Safety issues and relative proximity to Cape Town University as an academic resource centre, as well as my home base during the research period were also considerations, albeit to a lesser degree. I began research in the two, contextually-divergent, secondary schools and my choice to include the one elementary school was affirmed when I became aware of discourse 77 within the one secondary school which sought to 'lay blame' on the elementary school for the academic 'failure' o f its students. I was keen to hear i f there was related discourse evident in the elementary school that would either contradict or affirm the 'v ic t im-blaming' discourse o f the secondary school. This elementary school was a feeder school to the secondary school, which was situated in a lower socio-economic area, while the elementary school was placed in an informal settlement close by. Both secondary and elementary schools were very close to a highly affluent suburb of greater Cape Town. I follow with a brief contextual description o f the research schools, although I elaborate on them in the narratives. Pseudonyms are used for names o f schools, teachers and students throughout: Visserman's Baai Laer (Fisherman's Bay Primary/Elementary): This is the elementary (primary) school situated in the informal settlement. It enrolled students from grade one to grade seven with approximately 40 to 50 students per class and more than one class in many o f the grades. There were a few young adult students (in their early twenties) attending the grade seven classes, as there was no facility for adult learning in this area. The settlement school comprised Xhosa students, who learned predominantly in English at the school, and mixed race students, (historically referred to as "coloured"), who learned in either English, but mostly in the Afrikaans language. Instruction was predominantly, in Afrikaans, however, as the majority of teachers were mixed-race Afrikaans speakers and Xhosa teachers mostly conversed with them in Afrikaans. The Xhosa students derived from recent migrations o f Xhosa families into the 78 g r e a t e r C a p e T o w n r e g i o n . T h e s e f a m i l i e s c a m e f r o m i m p o v e r i s h e d r u r a l a r e a s o f t h e E a s t e r n C a p e P r o v i n c e . T h e a d u l t s s o u g h t e m p l o y m e n t i n t h e c i t y . N e v e r t h e l e s s , t h e t e a c h e r s , w h o i n d e s c r i b i n g t h e i r w o r k i n g c o n d i t i o n s m a d e r e f e r e n c e t o t h e s e t t l e m e n t , n o t e d t h a t t h e u n e m p l o y m e n t r a t e i n t h e c o m m u n i t y w a s e x t r e m e l y h i g h . Visserman's Baai Laer, t r a n s l a t e d Fisherman's Bay Lower ( P r i m a r y ) , i s a p s e u d o n y m f o r t h e s c h o o l . I h a v e u s e d t h e v e r n a c u l a r t o r e f l e c t t h e p r e d o m i n a n t l y A f r i k a a n s c o m m u n i t y . I c h o s e t h i s n a m e t o r e f l e c t t h e n e a r b y f i s h i n g c o m m u n i t y . S o m e o f t h e p a r e n t s w o u l d h a v e b e e n c o n t r a c t e d b y l o c a l f i s h e r m e n o r w o r k e d a t t h e n e a r b y h a r b o u r . C o m m u n i t y m e m b e r s w e r e d e s c r i b e d a s b e i n g p r e d o m i n a n t l y C h r i s t i a n i n t h i s s c h o o l . M o s t t e a c h e r s w e r e c o l l e g e t r a i n e d a n d n o n e h a d u n i v e r s i t y d e g r e e s . S o m e w e r e t e a c h i n g s u b j e c t s f o r w h i c h t h e y w e r e n o t q u a l i f i e d t o t e a c h . H o w e v e r , t h i s w a s n o t a l w a y s t h e c a s e . T h e s c h o o l i s a s m a l l b r i c k b u i l d i n g a n d i s s i t u a t e d o n a s m a l l p i e c e o f g r o u n d w i t h m i n i m a l p l a y g r o u n d s p a c e . C o n d i t i o n s w e r e c r a m p e d . D u r i n g m y r e s e a r c h p e r i o d , s e v e r a l n e w c l a s s r o o m s w e r e b e i n g b u i l t i n a n e w c l a s s r o o m b l o c k , w i t h m o d e r n f a c i l i t i e s a n d r e s t r o o m s . T h i s d e v e l o p m e n t w a s f u n d e d b y " a n a p p e a l " p r o g r a m r u n b y m e m b e r s o f t h e a d j o i n i n g a f f l u e n t s u b u r b a n c o m m u n i t y . T h i s a d j o i n i n g c o m m u n i t y w a s p r e d o m i n a n t l y w h i t e . W h e n I l e f t t h e r e s e a r c h s i t e , t h e n e w c l a s s r o o m s w e r e n e a r i n g c o m p l e t i o n . O t h e r ' u p g r a d e ' d e v e l o p m e n t p r o j e c t s w e r e a l s o p l a n n e d , a n d t h e r e w a s a s c h o o l f e e d i n g p r o g r a m i n o p e r a t i o n f r o m t h e s a m e " a p p e a l " p r o g r a m . I e l a b o r a t e o n t h e c o n d i t i o n s w i t h i n t h i s s c h o o l i n o n e o f m y n a r r a t i v e s : Fishes and Loaves. A l l s t u d e n t s w o r e s c h o o l u n i f o r m s . 79 Visserman's Baai Hoer (Fisherman's Bay High/ Secondary): This is the secondary school for which Visserman 's Baai.Laer would have been one of the main feeder schools. This secondary school was closer to the harbour i n a nearby bay, and in a more established, historically-'coloured' suburban area, where community members have been fishermen or worked in the local fishing industry for many decades. On the opposite side of the bay, extremely affluent estates situated along a wide expanse of white beach, are clearly visible from the school, marking a strong socio-economic difference with the community school. Many of these estates are owned by foreign/ international tycoons who make use of the estates for holidaying purposes. This scenic bay is a prized residential location in Cape Town, and boasts strikingly beautiful mountains, beaches, valleys and sea. Again, the school community was predominantly mixed-race, with a minority of Xhosa students, although the number of Xhosa students was on the rise due to recent migrations of Xhosa families to the metropolis of Cape Town. These students were mostly from the local informal settlement, rather than the local suburban community. This school had historically been mixed-race. There were no white students at the school. A l l teachers were either mixed-race or Xhosa, and spoke predominantly Afrikaans, although there were a higher proportion of English speaking teachers at the school. Xhosa was offered as a language o f instruction, although all subject areas, including mathematics, were taught in English or Afrikaans. Mixed-race students were assigned to 80 either English or Afrikaans classes according to their preferred language o f instruction or their home tongue. Xhosa students were automatically assigned to English classes, as there was no mathematics instruction available in Xhosa. English was spoken of, by students, teachers, and other members o f the community in general, as being the preferred language o f instruction. This was because it was perceived as the language o f business and economic empowerment. This reflects a common perception i n the 'new' South African context. Preferred language is also premised on historical events, such as the 1976 Soweto student uprising against the government, in which Afrikaans was perceived as the language o f the oppressor. This was to a much greater degree than English, despite the colonial history associated with the English language in the South African context. This is a direct result o f the Afrikaans-dominated National Party as the Apartheid regime. The community was predominantly Christian, but there was a significant Moslem community as well , and a Mosque was situated close to the school. Discourse within the school described mixed-race students as being predominantly Moslem or Christian, while Xhosa students were described as usually being Christian and/ or following indigenous beliefs. were Class sizes were similar to the elementary school o f 40 -50 per class, and there usually at least two classes of each grade level, from grade eight to twelve, usually segregated by language o f instruction. There were approximately 600 students at the school at the time of research. 'Lower grade' (non-university entrance examinations) and 'Standard grade' (more vocational stream - only university entrance i f the final result is a 81 C or higher, and only considered for certain disciplines, excluding university mathematics), were available in mathematics. 'Higher grade' mathematics (university entrance level) was not offered at al l . Even with the passing grade o f 30% and 40% respectively, the majority o f students failed both Lower grade and Standard grade mathematics in this school in their final years. Some teachers were college trained while others had university degrees. A l l teachers were either o f mixed-race descent or Xhosa. The majority were mixed-race, however. A l l students wore school uniforms. Broughham House: This is a pseudonym for a relatively new independent school with approximately 1200 students, 600 secondary and primary level each. The primary school is on the same campus as the secondary school, but I limited my research to the secondary school only. The school is situated on a large campus in a beautifully scenic, semi-rural area of the greater Cape Town region. Expansive buildings are historic Cape Dutch architecture and have been carefully renovated to preserve their national heritage. A l l rooms and classrooms have been tastefully refurbished and decorated in keeping with the Cape Dutch style o f architectural design. The impressive entrance is a long, winding avenue lined with trees and exotic flower bushes. There is an Olympic sized swimming pool and several sports fields. The school has a cafeteria, and dance, drama, and art studios. There are faculty and senior student lounges, a separate photocopy room, libraries, computer 82 laboratories, and many more facilities boasting state-of-the-art technologies. The ambience is one o f space and light. Codes of class are strongly, visibly evident. The majority o f students were white as were the majority o f teachers. Black African students were a greater minority than mixed-race students. A n d so, returning to the temporal space of a pedagogic journey's start, I unfold the map and peruse it, as I wonder what learning experiences this journey w i l l hold for me. I know that this stage o f the journey is one of preparation. I know that this is the beginning of one journey whose end, i f this can be determined in any exact sense, is the start of yet another, whose route w i l l be inextricably linked to the experiences of the current one, and whose successes depend on it. It is a journey of many wanderings, and many choices, for there are many reticular paths that could lead to many places. A n y one of them might have achieved profound meaning, albeit different. I am grateful for the choices I made and the experiences begot by them. I know, too, that my previous experiences living and teaching in South Afr ica necessarily informed the choices I made, my ways of 'seeing' and my motivations in ' looking ' . I was born into this landscape, and my love of the land and the people inform my ' tell ing' . I view my roots as a gift to the research I engage in and the contribution they can make to the international education community. In this sense, the greater journey of my life informs the pedagogic journey I now describe here, as did the previous pedagogic 83 journeys I undertook. A s the map unfolds, I see it as a part of a much larger map within which the current map finds its purpose and place. This dissertation follows a chronology o f writing, not the chronology o f events represented by the physical research journey. The pedagogic journey, therefore, is represented in this project i n its written form. Nevertheless, the writing interweaves with the learning, being constitutive of each other. Therefore, it is the pedagogic journey and the personal narratizing journey o f enlightenment, learning and spiritual growth that have been the most important. I have tried to do justice to the research journey by making every effort to tell as full a story as possible within the constraints of this research project, being ever cognizant of my shifting locations and roles. I have many stories to tell, many more narratives to write, and I can only choose a few whose complexity and epiphanic qualities led me to appreciate their particular poignancy and to write them while continuing the pedagogic journey. The importance of their meanings, to both the mathematics education field and the broader educational arena, give personal meaning to the research experience. I am sorry that I cannot offer them all within this academic representation o f my journey, or it would not be a stage of a journey of travel at al l , and would never lead to liberating experiences, both personal and societal. For there are further journeys beyond the 'great h i l l ' which Nelson Mandela describes in his own walk to freedom, and there are other important hills to climb. A s he insightfully says: "I dare not linger, for my long walk is not yet ended." 84 ENDNOTES 1 The notion of witnessing is an interesting one in that it raises the question of relevance of indigenous epistemologies and wisdoms to the educational/ research context. I believe that there is insufficient research undertaken to support the importance of these wisdoms. Although witnessing often has associations of therapeutics, spiritual transformation and healing, as in First Nations epistemologies and in South Africa's post-apartheid Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings, it serves a further purpose of providing recognition of the fact that researchers bring to bear the whole of their life experiences: what they have witnessed, what they have done, and who they have become or are becoming in the process, or throughout the journey. 2 It is of interest and concern to the mathematics education community at large given the imperatives of globalization and internationalization of mathematics education research that power relations exist in the participation, configuration and orientation of research agendas in this area. There is inequitable participation and commitment to research within developing and developed world contexts, for example. From a South African mathematics educator and researcher's standpoint, Chris Breen [in Breen, Vithal, Mtetwa, and Setati (2003)] remarks: The migration of research and researchers no doubt plays its part in shaping what we study and the kinds of questions we ask. We need only point to the serious lack of research into impact of poverty on mathematics education; the effects of large classes with limited resources; about understanding teaching and learning in situations of conflict, violence and war; of our lack of knowledge about how those learners on the margins of society (e.g. in prisons or "street shelters") learn (or suffer) mathematics teaching; and about policy reforms and transformation and their impact on mathematics classrooms and in schools and communities. Even though these conditions and contexts exist everywhere in varying degrees, they are the overriding issues in poorer countries yet these questions hardly seem to feature in the mathematics education research agendas of our countries, (p. 22) 3 I speak earlier of narrative engagement in terms of the identity it constructs, or the subject position(s) it calls forth. Althusser (1971) asserts that an ideology always already exists in an apparatus and its practices. This existence is material, (p. 156). In this way, for Althusser, individuals are always-already subjects that are interpellated (or hailed) into another subjectivity, (pp. 163-164). This is similar to the inscription of the subject within social relations and practices, in the Foucaultian sense. Following Althusser, I view my research engagement in terms of always-already-narratizing, and being recruited or interpellated into 'writing narrative'. 86 PHASE THREE: JOURNEY ACROSS CONTEXTS M y journey begins. A s I leave on my research travels, I know that my pedagogic journey has moved into the next phase. There is promise in my narratizing for a clearer vision, as the moon is full and emits the light of hope. I must use its illumination to its fullest. I am ready. I must begin... . The four narratives describe the narrative intricacies o f the research journey, but follow a chronology o f writing, rather than the physical route. In this way, the pedagogic journey is fore-grounded. Throughout the narratives and the dissertation as a whole, important themes are invoked and inter/intra-woven into the text. I return to them again and again so that they articulate with each other within and across the narratives. In this way they are iterative and represent an elliptical pedagogy, possible with narrative. Each invocation o f critical themes, provides a new perspective of engagement, so that an ever fuller interpretation becomes possible premised from the (inter)textual moments in which each are embedded. Themes intersect, overlay, and collide with each other as they move across contexts. They are introduced and re-introduced, emphasizing their situatedness and particular meaning as grounded in lived experiences. In this sense, the narratives (inter)weave stories of how these themes are recontextualized at different moments of articulation, so that meanings are ever-emergent. Voices speak across narrative texts, shaping meanings within them from voices both outside o f and inside o f narrative texts. They can be heard through authentic listening, and they ensure that texts are never bounded and closed, and that generative dialogue is always, ever open... as alluring as a full moon Hopefully not eclipsed by a 'globalized' Earth, perhaps, the moon shines red tonight on an African horizon. 87 S T A T E S O F N A T U R E : CREATING 'THE NORMAL' THROUGH A TALE OF A FARM SCHOOL. This narrative is a reflexive account of a visit to a farm school in rural post-apartheid South Africa. It focuses on issues of normalization, localization, and proceduralism. It attends to past, present and place in discourses of change as they encounter discourses and lived experiences of the 'everyday', as well as their attending ideologies. It looks at the importance of context, prevailing ethos, and the political disjunctures between the local and global. Neoliberalism, conservativism and white governmentality are problematised in how they interweave and embed themselves in the fabric of the 'everyday' to create 'the normal'. 88 The day emerged with the distinctiveness o f 'place'. Beyond the thick, sandstone walls of the old farmhouse, sounds and smells o f awakening blended together in a composition of historic consciousness, calling forth the elements o f its rural setting. Through a crack in the bedroom shutters, shafts of African sunlight fell across the broad worn beams o f the hardwood floor in a play of white light, lancing the objects o f domestic ordinariness about the room and shocking them into prominence from their nightly cloak of ethereal unknowing. Wi th the coming day, the hard rays of light slowly changed their focus, capturing objects, magnifying shadows and recreating shapes in the space o f the room. It was as though the beams of light were directing their attention onto objects of the mundane and the ordinary, selecting them and providing them with special significance for the day: spotlighting the scene of an imminent performance 1 . . . The soft zephyr of dawn, the growing warmth of morning and the light of early day conjured up the elements of a story about to be retold in the language and images o f the everyday, thus providing a great presence of familiarity and expectation, at once in tension and harmony with each other. The play of the 'known' and the 'normal' was being set for the day's events. "Goeie more A , . . . is that the operator?" I heard my sister's voice on the telephone. "El ise . . . . is that Tannie B Elise speaking?" The smell of coffee and freshly baked A Afrikaans for: Good morning. B "Tannie" means "Aunty" in Afrikaans, but is often used across some population groups in South Africa as a term of respect and as a sign of deference to elderly women, or by children to adult women. There are similarly deferential terms (most especially with respect to age and status) in all the indigenous languages. 89 buttermilk rusks wafted alluringly from the large kitchen that hissed with breakfast making. "Oh , hullo Tannie Elise! Hoe gaan dit met i i ? " D M y sister's voice changed tone to fit in with the strong Free State Afrikaans E intonations o f the telephone operator on the other end o f the party line.. . a line, or network o f lines, which bound a farming community in a cultural enclave... holding it within a temporal-spatial laager F . Outside, the "warring impis G " of political change could be held back by a Conradian 2 efficiency and busyness of domestication, hard labour and the congregating around local church-focused 'community affairs'. In this way, a floral home-spun tea-cloth (from the ladies bazaar) o f 'c ivi l izat ion ' is thrown, like a shroud, over the prejudice and human anguish lurking darkly beneath.... " O , is dit reg? A g , siestog, E l i s e ! H Oh, I am so sorry to hear that... en Oom Fanie? Is sy been ' n bietjie beter? 1 A g , that is so nice to hear... gee vir c This is indigenous fare, similar to "biscotti", enjoyed by dunking into a cup of tea or mug of coffee. In my experience, it would be associated with homeliness, comfort and '"n lekker lewe' (a good life). D How are you? ("u" refers to the deferential form of you ("jou") and is considered more polite/formal). The Orange Free State is one of the eight (historically four) provinces of South Africa It is steeped in Afrikaans history and was the first Boer Republic. It is mainly rural, and like mair rural areas m South Africa, is known for its 'impoverished' communities F "Laager" refers to the ring of wagons which the Boers adopted as a defensive military position against attack by warriors, especially Xhosa and Zulu, in protection of that immediate group of trekker families. This occurred frequently during the period of 'The Great Trek' into the interior of South Africa. The Boer Trekkers were attempting to escape the occupation of the British who had colonized the Cape Province. The isolationist thinking of the Nationalist government in doggedly maintaining racialist Apartheid policies despite South Africa's increasing rejection by the rest of the democratic nations has often been referred to as the Nationalist government's "laager mentality". G "impi" is a traditional Zulu military unit comprising a number of warriors. H "Oh, is that right? Oh, what a pity/ shame, Elise!" 1 " . . .and Uncle Fanie? Is his leg a bit better?" Here, 'Uncle' is used as a deferential term in the same way as 'Aunty' is. 90 hom my liefde, hoor?" J M y sister moves between Afrikaans and English, belying her South African English cultural roots in a community in which she has become "accepted" but in which she did not grow up.. . . like an imported garden variant o f an indigenous bloom. "Elise, do you have the telephone number o f Mar ika Engelbrecht?" . . . She is ' a l l English' now as her tone changes to 'business' mode. "Yes , my sister is staying with me at the moment. She is out here from Canada... yes, I am sure she is enjoying the weather... yes, it is very nice to see her. She is doing her doctorate at a Canadian university and she is out here looking at schools in South Afr ica . . . . ja, al l our problems... ja, you are right... it is terrible! L . . . Yes, so we thought she might want to see the rural school on Gerhart Botha's M farm.... Yes, I know the kids are still on holiday but I thought it would be nice i f we could go and see Mar ika Engelbrecht.... she is the teacher there isn't she? G o o d , . . . so I thought that my sister could meet with her and have a chat about al l the difficulties she has to cope with as a teacher in a farm school here... ja, it is terrible..." I listen in silence to the objectifying discourse, with increasing frustration, as assumptions are made about the 'nature' o f my research and about what approach I should take and what attitude I would necessarily be obliged to adopt.. . presupposed, pre-conceived, and obviously the 'right' way, or the 'only ' way, given the 'overwhelming ".. .give him my love, won't you?" or ".. .give him my love, do you hear?" K This is a pseudonym. This could be considered a "typical" name. 1 As I see it, my sister was reproducing the prevailing discourse of the day, positioning herself as 'insider' to this community, rather than expressing her 'own beliefs'. However, I cannot claim access to what her set of political beliefs necessarily might be, despite my relationship to her, as we have had very different 'travels' outside of our childhood home. Nor is this the concern or focus of the point I am making here. M This, again, is a pseudonym. 91 evidence' o f poverty', ' s implici ty ' , 'ignorance' and 'hardship'. "Ja, and perhaps we could go with Mar ika to have a look at the school. . . yes... no, it is not very nice, hey?" Within an hour we had readied ourselves "om te gaan kuier" (the day devoted to the 'performance' o f visiting: a cultural tea or coffee-drinking or meal-sharing 'ceremony' with its ritual of social graces), two sisters and their respective daughters: four women on a mission! The Land Rover was packed with the necessary supplies: a chicken for Tannie Venter, koeksisters for the van Niekerk's, building supplies for Oom Janse, a walking stick for Oom Fannie with the injured leg, and, of course, Ouma Toenie's famous 'melktert' N from the home bakery adjoining the local N G kerk (the Dutch-Reformed church - an ethno-national iconoclast to Calvinistic Afrikanerdom), for the visit with the Engelbrechts. Last o f al l , but of equal importance, the 'padkos ' 0 was carefully packed onto the front seat: a bag of sliced 'bi l tong' p , some dried fruit and a flask of rooibos tea Q to keep up the spirits on the long day's journey over rugged sand roads through the mountains. The day was still young as the Land Rover engined its way jokingly over earthworm roads landmined with boulders and loose gravel. The sandstone mountains loomed into the day's early consciousness illuminating, in places, the hard protuberances of sedimentary rock layered in ancient textures of geological history. In the valleys, the light N This is a traditional custard pie and a popular desert dish. 0 Food for along the road, i.e. refreshments and snacks for the journey. p This is indigenous beef jerky. 92 was still soft, and pastel shades caressed the canvas with impressions of indigenous shrubs and shimmering gold veld. The canyons yawned their awakening with long tongues of deep shadow. Every so often, as we jolted along, we passed by local Xhosa inhabitants walking beside the road or across the fields. These figures created focal points on the canvass o f the veld, extending its imagery of repeating patterns, of uniqueness and ordinariness; of the known and the unknown; of earth and people. Some figures were that o f women with their young daughters close by, wrapped in gray, brown and red blankets and carrying huge bundles of wood upon their heads. Although I did not see their personal hardship as being visibly reflected in their open, friendly faces as they chatted amongst each other and turned to smile at us, I tried to imagine, at that moment, the distance they already must have walked from early that morning, before the first rays broke the chi l l o f night, to bring home firewood for the evening meal. Other figures were o f young boys running... chasing their bleating goats into the pastures, or young men herding the white farmers' pure-bred cattle with their rippling russet coats, into the pastures. There was an exchange of greetings as we passed, as is always customary in rural parts. The deeply imbedded familiarity of this rural South African scene and the intense beauty manifested in its unique and richly-woven tapestry of the local and the lived, struck a deep chord within me and I felt the surging joy of my connection with this scene, effervescing within, exploding into my consciousness and my sense of 'person' and 'place'. This exhilaration, however, was tempered by the contradictory senses of This is an indigenous herbal tea. 93 belonging; within and without-ness; 'insider' and 'outsider'; now residing in an-'other' geographical place, but born into this 'belonging'; having 'left and come back to' and having, in all its spiritual sense, 'never left at all'! Just as the textured images of chiaroscuro created life-patterns of light and shadow across this rural panorama, so I was encircled by the shaded/ing meaning-producing, sense-making images of my own ever-recreated/ing identity 'ascribed' within, yet connected through and without this scene. I became aware, as I have before, with a deeper sense of knowing within the context of this moment of lived/re-lived experience, of the strength of 'the web' and of the inextricable 'interwoven-ness' of the aesthetic, the personal, and the political.... I turned my head... There was a tacit moment when the lights turned down and the scene changed. I looked into the interior of the vehicle to offer mugs of tea to two young cousins. At that moment, the scene outside imprinted itself in complimentary colours on the internal scene of the Land Rover, as my eyes attempted to accommodate from bright to dull light. Negative spaces were momentarily illuminated in luminescent colours. Strange juxtaposing shapes produced aesthetic oppositions and surrealist images within, and I realized, at that moment, how much I had been romanticizing and naturalizing the scene without. As the vehicle had moved along the road, I had been the audience to a cinema of passing scenes. I, like the early light of dawn, had invoked these images of the ordinary and the daily and had provided them with a prominence beyond their context in ways that exotisized them and produced a range of emphasis and silence as 'states of nature' 3 , just as my narration of the scene has produced these continuums discursively. M y sense o f the aestheticism o f the scene, reinforced by my spiritual connection with it, served to minimize the relations o f power referenced between the scene without and the scene within. I had been painting my own picture, figures on a canvass... not people. In the creation o f personal art, I had normalized the conditions o f being. L i k e the brushstrokes o f dawn light that illuminated the domestic ordinariness o f the rural day, I had painted the quotidian, the normal and the known from the palette o f my personal history. The turn o f head and scene-change allowed my consciousness to shift positions and reframe, temporarily, and to view with new insight the extent o f the difference in material conditions of existence between the mother/daughter relationships outside, on the bright stage of the open veld, and those enclosed within the shaded auditorium of the motor vehicle. I had been both audience and actor, creating the spectacle I had observed: elaborator and recipient of my own performance! The roads bifurcated into narrower farm tracks and became more difficult to negotiate until we reached a makeshift steel gate with wagon wheels propped up on either side, icons of the "Great Trek" pioneering history of South Africa, marking the entrance. A t the Engelbrechts' farm we were soon welcomed by a cacophony of barking dogs and honking geese. W i l l o w trees lined a muddy stream beside the sepia-toned farmhouse that spoke, in photo-images, of a boer history. A borehole was flanked by a creaking windmill , as prominent in its stature and importance to this rural setting where drought is the greatest fear, as the steeple of the proverbial Dutch Reformed church, which towers 95 above all "dorps" of South Africa, symbolizing their communities' fear of a fearful God. The "geselskap" s began in all earnest as introductions were made and we were escorted inside to a graciously prepared lunch, laid out on a large, elaborately carved, but sombre, mahogany table. We were briefly introduced to Xhosa servants donned in aprons and "doeks"T as they washed dishes in the kitchen or moved silently through the rooms with bundles of folded washing. They greeted us with half curtsies or clapped their hands together with a small, deferential nod, their eyes quickly lowering as they returned to their chores. They seemed to take up spaces of invisibility against the heavy Africana furniture in the rooms which seemed larger than life and awash with the overpowering light of broad day. The lunch ritual proceeded with 'grace' and the conversation fell to questions about Canada.... What was it like? ... Was it really better than South Africa? Wasn't it very cold? Didn't I miss South Africa? Where did Ifeel most at home? I bricolaged my way through the conversation, attempting to construct simple 'understandable' answers to complex questions for which I had no clear understandable R A 'dorp' is a small town, usually set in a rural area. There are particular historical features to South African dorps, most notably the prominence of their church(es), which, historically, are likely to embody the protestant or, particularly, the Dutch Reformed faith of many of the townsfolk. It could be said that they are often characterized by 'simplicity' and 'old-worldliness', and this is most likely to be suggested in the use of the term, 'dorp', in conversation in South African English. s "geselskap": means 'conversation' in Afrikaans. As I am using it here, it is meant in the particular cultural sense of the joviality and hospitality which is invoked by a gathering of people in a community, and the conviviality expressed through this. T "doek": South African English, from the Afrikaans, meaning a 'head scarf. Traditionally, these 'doeks' have been worn by black African people across the centuries. In the colonial period, they came to symbolize the servility of black African women in particular. More recently, headscarves and headdresses are often worn by black African women in South Africa as a celebration of their African identity, and to disrupt the colonial association of a "doek" with a master/servant relationship. However, the wearing of "doeks" in the context I describe here invokes the colonial association and reinforces the servant status of these Xhosa women. 96 answers, with an increasing sense o f alienation and frustration, which I was desperately trying not to show. I was relieved when the conversation turned to the breeding of oxen, its potential and pitfalls. M y daughter is silent throughout the conversation. 01 wonder what she might be thinking about this cameo o f South African life. What is she noticing? The contrast between the experiences we had together only a few days earlier in the city o f Johannesburg and here, are marked... at least in my consciousness? We had just traveled from a national Mathematics Education conference held at the University o f the Witwatersrand where we had been able to engage freely and openly with the predominantly black delegates in attendance, on equal terms with everyone. Here, in this context, the invisible presence of indigenous 'black people' symbolically reinforces their historical place of servitude. Now, 'they' seem so far away, so remote, and I cannot seem to find spaces o f possibility for engagement... She excuses herself from the table to view the animals outside.. . in the harsh sunlight. M y mind plays with the shifting realities.... Perhaps the animals are more real... After tea and melktert in the lounge, we finally bundled into the Land Rover on our mission to visit the farm school, the highlight o f the day's performance. It was then that Mar ika Engelbrecht began to tell me details about her responsibilities as teacher at the u Here, I move into the present tense. I use it as a stylistic device to draw attention to the different forms of experience we (my daughter and I) had in South Africa. Considering what my daughter may be thinking here, serves as a mechanism to reflect on my own thinking, outside of the context of the moment. It is as if this moment represents another 'scene' in the way in which the narrative performance plays out. It is a 'scene', not determined by the chronology of the narrative, but by the way in which it transcends all moments, supporting a more 'general' theme throughout the narrative/research. 97 school: that she taught approximately thirty students, (although they come and go at any time when their parents, who are all labourers and servants on local farms, migrate from place to place); that she was hired by the local white fanners to teach their labourers' children and that she needs to ask these farmers for any supplies and equipment she needs. She begins to tell me about some of the children; their ages; that they are many years older than the grade they should be in; and that they hardly ever pass a grade. She tries, she says, but it is tough. The highest grade she teaches is grade 7 and one of the learners is 18 years old... he will never make it... she has given up teaching him the syllabus, because 'he just can't do it'... his skills are 'too weak', especially with maths. She raises her eyes. "You know what I mean?" she says ... but it is not a question. My position as 'guest' shifts as I move into the position of 'researcher'. It is not a complete move, because I am conscious that my position as guest, although now backgrounded, is ever present. I must be polite. I must not be "ongeskik of onbeskof' v . I am in no position to be critical or ungrateful. They are going out of their way to be hospitable, helpful... to assist me in my research. They 'know what I need', even though I have not spoken a word about personal philosophy... educational approach... theoretical framework. A notion of what I am here in South Africa to do has been accepted... assumed.. .interpreted. They seem satisfied. I know who they are, because I have been this way before... I am being recruited as a 'white South African' ... and a "ongeskik of onbeskof: This means: impolite/ungracious or ill-mannered. I use the Afrikaans here, because these sentiments have particular cultural and situational reference, in my experience, in the South African context. "verkrampte" w one at that.. .my beliefs and values are assumed, and there is a common investment in it.... I feel my neck stiffen and my stomach become tight as the Land Rover jolts and jerks its way down the track. I am grateful for the movement because it makes me feel more in touch with an outer physical reality, as an opposing sense of remoteness begins to cloud my senses like a mist through the valley in the late afternoon. I stay my task, however, and begin to nod 'understandingly'. I am mute, but listening. She has all the space to speak. We arrive at the school and climb out of the Land Rover to stand a while. There it is... an old mud-brick building in the middle of a vast landscape. Its simple one-roomed rectangular shape alludes to an era of rural missionary education, of 'civilizing' the Bantus ... a place in the present past.... There are no kraals nearby or suggestion of a settlement. I try to imagine where the children come from... over which little koppie they appear in the early light of day, little moving dots at first and then increasingly larger ones taking on the form of jolting figures ... like an old-fashioned movie reel which is not tracking smoothly... running to get to school on time every morning. My mind records the scene, referencing old memories from my youth of ninning and playing with w "verkramptheid": noun ('verkrampte' (adj)). From the Afrikaans: arch conservatism, associated with, in the South African sense, racism and bigotry. x Dictionary definition of 'Bantu': a member of any of a large number of linguistically related peoples of Central and Southern Africa. This constitutes more than 400 closely related languages spoken in Central, East Central and Southern Africa and includes Zulu and Xhosa. The use of this term has particular reference to Apartheid ideology in terms of the institutionalizing of 'native people' through a doctrine of Bantu Education, premised on the view of black indigenous people as "hewers of wood and drawers of water". 99 cMdren from the kraal.I see no footpaths or tracks. Perhaps the children come from every which way, from different farm communities. But, I wonder how they get here, for in every direction I see the signs of borders 4; wire fencing demarcating large tracks of land, farms and fields. I wonder how many farm and cattle gates they must pass through to get to school each morning. The school is surrounded by tall bluegums 5, their half-stripped mottled bark, reflecting the patchiness of yellow grass and bare red earth beneath them. It marks vicinity where animals and people have trodden frequently. In the near distance, horses stand snorting and swishing their tails to deter flies. Here the veld is tall and dry. I listen to the immense silence 6 for a moment, and the sounds of the earth fill in this space with the familiar gusts of wind through trees and the constant sing of insects in the heat. In the near distance, I hear Xhosa herdsmen calling to each other and laughing in conversation across the valleys and open veld. For a moment, I am lulled into the peace and calming beauty of the scene I have created with my senses, within myself, and before my eyes. We walk through a little gate with an overhanging sign of wood on which the name of the school is carved in Xhosa. Marika climbs three high steps to the entrance and unlocks the heavy door. The wood of the door is split and patches of green paint are blistered from the intense sun that sears down, day after day. It scrapes noisily against the mud floor as it opens, tiring of its duties as it hangs from loose hinges. Inside the schoolroom, three rows of neatly aligned desks are the first impressions of the room. On each desk rests a bright orange plastic chair, inverted and stacked on top. The school chairs illuminate the gloom like beacons, marking the places where individual students spend their day in the act of being schooled. 100 There are tall steel cabinets that divide the room into two classroom areas. Behind the cabinets are another set o f desks and chairs. On the walls are brightly coloured posters with the letters o f the alphabet or numbers, bordered by bunnies and flowers. There are depictions of doll-like children, al l 'white' , reading books and having conversations with each other, in English, about how they like to read. There are more colourful posters teaching gender difference... Western style: One frame reads: "I am a boy. M y name is John", the next reads: "I am a girl . M y name is Jane", with stereotypical depictions of a Caucasian boy, with commanding stature, smartly dressed in trousers and shirt, and a girl in a flouncy pink dress with a ribbon in her curly blonde hair. The 'boy' and ' g i r l ' wear polished black shoes and white socks. These shoes have never walked for kilometres through African veld where the dry earth coats them with a film of fine red dust.... a dust that has a distinctive smell and that seems to become a part of your being. Marika takes me around the room, pointing out teaching materials, seating plans and books. I look at the books in the small bookcase. There are very few of them. Mar ika tells me that she has bought them from secondhand bookstores with her own money for the school. They are mostly kindergarten level English reading books in large print and have been well thumbed over the years. They are published in the United Kingdom and depict scenes of white middle class neighbourhoods or English country gardens, European or North American animals. The wind rattles the two small windowpanes framed in thick mud walls. I look out and see the sheen of tall dry veld as the wind ripples through it in the deepening afternoon. I 101 see and feel the absurdity of the contrasting images within this rural South African context. I hear and feel a deep silence... I say nothing.... "Come, let me show you." I hear Marika's voice. She takes me to an enclave in the room. It is the little 'office' area. She shows me her teaching materials. There is shelf upon shelf of textbooks and dictionaries, little cardboard boxes filled with neat flashcards, counters and other homemade manipulatives. Everything is "netjies" Y and wel l ordered. It is organized and filed with tremendous care and I can see the hours o f laborious and detailed effort that has gone into preparing each small item. She tells me how she uses her teaching materials in the classroom and her dark brown eyes are alight with pride in her work. I begin to feel a strong affinity with this person as a 'dedicated teacher'. Is it that I feel the connection through 'common understanding' of the context of teaching, the many hours o f devoted effort, hoping that it w i l l help some young people in their educational path and their personal, spiritual growth? Is it that I recognize her pride and the pleasure she experiences in her personal efforts? M y heart warms to her, but it is fraught with discomfort and ambiguity. I am caught firmly in the web o f dilemma, of the kind I was to experience many times throughout my period of research in South Africa, as I have been many times before. It is the kind of dilemma which is invoked by my very Y "netjies": this is the Afrikaans for 'neat'. I have used the Afrikaans here to refer to a cultural orientation of this condition of neatness. It evokes an image of 'orderliness and neatness', which has political reference to the dichotomies, set up by colonialism, of 'the civilized' and 'the uncivilized', of 'order' and 'political chaos'. It connects with a previous remark regarding 'efficiency' in the colonial enterprise of 'civilizing' 'the Heart of Darkness'. Nevertheless, I also acknowledge that this may come across as reflecting cultural bias on my part as an English-speaking South African. Although I have used the Afrikaans to evoke this image, it is a trait which is not exempt from English - South African colonial culture and speaks to the ideology of 'order and control' as a broader complex of our colonial history. 102 presence in context. 'To be' a South African, 'to be' within a South African context, is to be instantiated in dilemma. We walk back into the classroom space and I look again at the metal cabinets dividing two classroom areas. I ask about it. It is then that Mar ika tells me that she works with another female teacher who is Xhosa. She had not mentioned this before. Her name is Nombolelo . 2 While Mar ika teaches one subject to older students on the one side of the room, Nombolelo teaches the younger students on the other. Then they swap over for another subject. "But I teach all the maths," Mar ika says, "because Nombolelo tells me o that she is uncomfortable teaching it and that she would prefer me to teach it. I don't mind. So I agreed." " D i d she say why she felt uncomfortable teaching maths?" I ask, but Mar ika looks at me quizzically as i f she is unsure why I am asking 'the obvious'. . . I feel as i f I am being made to feel a little 'ignorant'. Nevertheless, she answers. "She says she doesn't feel secure in it. She doesn't know it that well and she feels she is not properly prepared to teach i t . . . . But, you know, the thing is, she is fully qualified... she got her teacher's certificate at the local black college here..." Marika goes on with a sudden need to 'clarify' things for me: "It is interesting, though. I find that she teaches by writing sentences on the board and then the kids have to copy it down. She doesn't explain it to them. They have to be quiet and just copy down. Otherwise, they have to repeat it to her, over and over, so that it becomes a sing-song... just repetition... no explanation... but, she has recently been qualified, so I don't know what they taught her i n that college, but that is the way she does it." 9 2 Nombolelo: this is a Xhosa woman's name, used here as a pseudonym. 103 This was not the first nor the last time I was to hear this kind of discourse on black teachers in South Africa. It was a discourse which inhered in 'historical deficit' and 'inadequacy'. The frequency with which I was to hear it was such that it located a discourse of "Truth" beyond itself that was self-perpetuating and seemingly impenetrable and immutable. It made me realize how difficult it would be to provide any criticism of teaching methods in "disadvantaged" or "historically black classrooms" without feeding directly into this discourse. So powerful was this discursive repertoire on "disadvantage" with regard to "education and training of black teachers" and the "crisis" which this alluded to, that it became almost impossible to negotiate the terrain without falling into the paradigm of "deficit" and "disadvantage" oneself. The task of separating out the established "Truth" from the "socially constructed", whilst at the same time not "factoring out" the "fault" and laying blame, became a daunting one. It was one which caused/ was to cause/ does cause me great discomfort and difficulty in my analysis as well as in my personal, relational, moral and spiritual experiences. It is only through my "theoretico-personal" perspective which allows me to view all discourses of a micro-interpersonal, as well as macro-global level, as inherently political, socially-constructed and relative, (while trying to remain constantly reflexive and undauntingly vigilant of the power principles at play), that I am able to search, and occasionally find, a way ahead through the minefields of hegemonic "truths", conflicting realities and contradictory perspectives... albeit that it is with a difficult gait! 104 "Come, I will show you their class books," Marika says. We move two chairs to sit down at one of the tables and I immediately feel uncomfortable as if I have intruded on the students' space. 'Who is the student that sits here?' 'Should I be sitting in her seat?' 'Should I be looking at her books?' I contemplate this ethical dilemma, but Marika is already showing me some of "the work" she does with them. "They have to do a course on technology.... This is all I could do with them." She shows me a small exercise book. It has nothing written in it, except one paragraph on the first page. It has been copied down from the board in the neatest handwriting. It constitutes some theoretical definition of a machine. "What can you do if you don't have any technology. None of these kids have ever seen a computer, let alone touched one!" She goes on: "Even if we were donated one, we have no electricity here." She shrugs, but she shows a deep frustration. I feel her frustration, but the other voice of my education calls me to account: What about the technology of the pencil? In what different ways might we be able to think of the pencil as a tool for empowerment? What tools preceded the pen that have local significance and which set up lines of communication to which society at large is indebted? I think of school trips to nearby caves showing ancient Koi-San rock paintings. How exciting would that be? In my mind I see the cross-curricular/ interdisciplinary potential in it. What else could come from that? And then, what about a student-directed project to build a machine with full class participation, encouraging student input on design, procedure and creative thinking? ...It needn't be elaborate.... but, it could become elaborate... allow for that possibility! Perhaps one could start off with simple tasks of designing and trying out lever and pulley systems. One could start from the 105 home 1 0 . Is there anything similar that the students and their parents use or need at home or in their surrounding environment? H o w can this be developed and extended. Then move outwards.... move forwards... not according to a "progressivist" prescription o f "educational success" vdthin an Euro-centred/Western "resource-based" framework,... no, not that kind of 'forward', but one which re-sources existing potential, harnesses contextual possibilities to overcome contextual limitations.... M y mind has wandered... Mar ika is showing a student's mathematics workbook. " Y o u see there," she says, pointing to some names posted on the side o f the metal cabinet dividing the room. In the half-light I see a list o f about eight names arranged i n hierarchical order. They are categorized into three groups and there is a break between each group arranged from top to bottom. Mar ika points to the name at the top of the rung, the 'juxta-rx)sitioiiing' o f the top and bottom names visually pronounced by the distance between them. "This is my best student in maths, but they a l l struggle... Some o f them are very weak. I have three groups o f them... the better ones, the weak ones and the weakest group..." I knew immediately that the hierarchy referred to students' 'mathematical ability' before Marika informed me. I have never seen the hierarchy so blatantly represented and open to public scrutiny before, but I have been down this path sufficiently many times in the past, in different contexts, in my experiences in secondary and tertiary education, to recognize the power o f mathematics to divide and categorise people according to social constructions of ' ab i l i ty ' , class, gender, 'culture', ethnicity and place. It is a divisive power that traverses contexts, having few contextual variations. The variations occur mostly in the mode of the expression of them, i.e. the power of the silence is heard in the extent o f its visibility. It either visibly silences, as represented in 106 the hierarchy o f names on display i n this farm school, or it silences through hiding the relations o f power invested i n its differentiating practices. 1 1 "Why do you put their names up on display like that and why did you choose to place them in three groups?" I hear myself asking, but my voice seems to come from another place and it sounds flat and without resonance. In my mind I play back what I have said like a faint echo, but the emphases are different to their internal meaning, the meaning in my moral being. The question sounds clinical and flat. A m I simply 'researching' this, or am l a part of this happening? But the internal question seems to fade into the ordinariness of the day. Marika, unsure for a moment whether my question might suggest an oblique criticism, hesitates for a moment, but my eyes show nothing. Reassured by my expressionless demeanor, she answers and, again, it is as i f she is telling me 'the obvious'. "The names are there so that I can see who is in which group. I get the ones that are at the same level o f understanding to work together so that they al l know what to do. I don't want them all to work together because the weakest ones w i l l only hold the better ones back. Sometimes the weakest ones work close to my desk. They need the extra help, but sometimes I have to just get on with the syllabus. I can't always wait for them to catch up." Mar ika points back to the exercise book. "This is one of the better students' work", she says. "He is in grade 7 now." Marika turns the pages for me to see. I see pages of columns of neat well-written answers. There appears to be no scribbling, no 'mathematical workings' , no 'attempts' visible in the writing. A t a cursory glance, I do not see any obvious errors. It appears to me as i f errors have been carefully eliminated so 107 that the book presents neatly. No questions are written in the exercise book in support of, or to contextualise, answers,... only answers.... columns and columns of answers. 'Order' rather than 'learning' appears, as a first impression, from my perspective, to be the primary focus. Is this what the student has internalized, I wonder? What does school mathematics mean to him? Is it all about 'giving the right answer', about being 'wrong' or 'right'? Is there a condition of 'seeking', or 'finding', or 'coming to know'? Axe there any other transitional states of being? Are there other forms, other representations? How 17 does mathematics appear 'to be'? The book falls open onto a page with a neat column of numbers connected together with equal signs. The column goes: 1. 30=15 2. 12 = 6 3. 10 = 5 4. 6 = 3 5. 14 = 7 6. ... I can deduce from 'the answers', (which must be the number to the right of the equal sign), that the question asks of the student "to find a half of the following numbers" in true repetitive task-driven mathematics textbook style. The question has not been written in. "I did this with them in class. I had to show them how to do it because they are very bad with fractions," Marika tells me. As it stands on the page, with nothing to contextualise the use of symbols, the statements seem absurd. Thirty does not equal 108 fifteen. , A A I feel a twinge o f anger! H o w ridiculous this 'mathematics lesson' appears to me. I see the student sitting before the page, perplexed, confused.... Trying to make sense of what is on the page... being told, that this is "how you do it" and not knowing why. . . why mathematical symbols are used one way i n one context and another way in another context, for no apparent logical reason. The logic of the schema used remains with the teacher. What a strange subject mathematics must appear to be! I hear myself speaking... "Might it not be more useful to rather let the students write out the full statement: Vi x 30 = 15. This would allow them to appreciate the concept o f an equal sign as a 'balance', or at least to show that the left hand side o f an equation should be equivalent to the right hand side in terms of the 'weight' or value of each side, and that this can be reversed. Here, they are using the equal sign as a 'connector', simply to connect an idea on 'the left', to an idea on 'the right', and only in this direction, so that confusion may arise when using the equal sign in its proper mathematical form when dealing with algebraic equations, not so?" I hear my voice echo: " . . . in its proper mathematical form when dealing with algebraic equations"... ^ Again, I am not trying to construct Marika's practice in general as deficient in ways which support simplistic dichotomies of deficiency within disadvantage and enlightened practice with advantaged communities, but to draw attention to an observed practice, or a set of practices, which, I believe, may be alienating to learners within this context. In fact, I have observed this 'mis-use' of the equal sign in teaching practice, in very similar ways, in mathematics classrooms in an 'advantaged community' in a Canadian context. Nevertheless, I acknowledge that my comment may have come across as judgmental, and that I may have sounded authoritative by carrying the authority of expertise in this specialist discipline of mathematics, despite the use of 'friendly' speaking tones. This is regrettable. 1 0 9 I amlrnmediately sorry! I hear how it has come across, 'purest' and authoritative, as if I am the 'all-knowledgeable' teacher, speaking down to this 'other' teacher because.. .1 'know better'? ... why do I assume I 'know better'? Is it because she teaches in a farm school and has only taught in a farm school, and some of my teaching experiences have been in more 'successful' or 'advantaged' contexts? No, it is not just that... Or, is it that I am aware of the 'discrepancy' between us with respect to 'knowledge of mathematics' as a discipline. Is it about certification? Am I not simply reproducing the hierarchies in the social domain that relate 'educational qualifications' to 'knowledge' and the authority or 'right' to speak, to tell, to know, to know 'better'. No, in fact, it is none of these in particular, although all of these are present in the textured space of the event and the context, acting subliminally yet powerfully. Nevertheless, on a personal level, it is primarily about my own frustration at seeing students taught mathematics indifferently... seeing, remembering, feeling what it is like... believing that it can be/ should be 'better', whilst being conscious that what I said would not come across in that way, but as imposing, judgmental and superior. My sister, who has been standing on the other side of the room in conversation with Marika's husband, now stops and turns her head... surprised to hear my voice, to hear me saying so much... and, so suddenly, about mathematics! She has never heard me speaking about mathematics before. This is a side of me that she has never experienced, Dalene as the 'voice of the mathematics teacher'. The flow of events, the stream of 'the normal', has been disturbed by some hidden force... .a force from outside the circle of relations here, today, at this moment. I see her deciding to walk out of the classroom so as to stand outside and wait for me. Marika's husband follows. 110 H a v e I d i s r u p t e d t h e c o r d i a l r e l a t i o n s , b r o k e n t h e r u l e s o f s o m e a g r e e m e n t ? H a v e I f a i l e d t o r e c o g n i z e t h e i m p l i c i t r u l e s e m b e d d e d i n t h e t e x t o f t h e e v e n t , l i k e t h e h i d d e n t h r e a d s o f a w e b t h a t h o l d y o u t o t h e c o n d i t i o n s o f t h e c o n t e x t , t h e s a m e i n v i s i b l e t h r e a d s t h a t e s t a b l i s h w h a t i s a c c e p t a b l e , w h a t i s ' d o n e ' , w h a t i s ' a p p r o p r i a t e ' a n d ' n o r m a l ' t o t h a t c o n t e x t , I w o n d e r ? O r , a s m y s i s t e r ' s e x p e r i e n c e s o f m a t h e m a t i c s a t s c h o o l w e r e v e r y n e g a t i v e , i s i t a s u b l i m i n a l a v e r s i o n t o m a t h e m a t i c s , t o h e a r i n g ' i t ' s p o k e n . . . a n d b y h e r s i s t e r ? M a r i k a t a k e s a f e w s e c o n d s t o a n s w e r m e , b u t I c a n f e e l t h a t s h e h a s t a k e n u p m y r e m a r k i n t h e w a y t h a t I h a d f e a r e d . . . I c a n a l m o s t h e a r h e r t h o u g h t s a b o u t ' t h i s ' u i t l a n d e r ' B B b e i n g p e d a n t i c a b o u t a n e q u a l s i g n w h e n s h e h a s no i d e a a b o u t t h e d i f f i c u l t y o f t h e c o n t e x t o f t e a c h i n g h e r e ' . . . " Y e s , I s u p p o s e I c o u l d , b u t t h e n t h e y w o u l d h a v e a l o t m o r e w r i t i n g t o d o , a n d t h e y n e v e r said a n y t h i n g a b o u t n o t u n d e r s t a n d i n g i t , " s h e s a y s . I f e e l f r u s t r a t e d a n d d i s i l l u s i o n e d w i t h h e r r e m a r k . F i r s t l y , w h a t i s w r o n g w i t h w r i t i n g m o r e m a t h e m a t i c s ? I s t h e r e n o p r o c e s s o f l e a r n i n g w h i c h t a k e s p l a c e t h r o u g h w r i t i n g ? 1 4 M o r e i m p o r t a n t l y , h o w a r e s t u d e n t s , w h o s e m o t h e r t o n g u e i s not E n g l i s h , s u p p o s e d t o t e l l a t e a c h e r t h a t t h e y d o n o t u n d e r s t a n d w h e n t h e r e i s n o t h i n g p r o v i d e d t o t h e m a s a b a s i s t o BB 'uitlander': Afrikaans for 'foreigner' or someone from outside the country (often used by Afrikaners to refer to new English settlers in the 1800s). It suggests historic prejudice against 'outsiders', perhaps most especially those who are critical. In my travels through South Africa during my research, I often found myself being positioned, temporarily, as a foreigner who has 'lost touch with the South African context' when I posed a critical/ contradictory opinion, and as a 'fellow South African' when I was in agreement. These were consensual and differentiating codes in operation, albeit that they were often subtle. This refers to my contradictory states of positioning across contexts, through residing in another country. These criteria for positioning had not been previously available when I was still residing in South Africa. I l l explain the 'non-understanding'? I f mathematics has always been presented in a way where the sense-making criteria, and the concepts which provide it with interconnectedness and permit transfer, have not been made accessible, how are the learners supposed to articulate this with any coherence? Surely, there needs to be sufficient familiarity with other ways o f viewing mathematics, speaking about mathematics, writing mathematics, to be able to engage with questions about understanding. A movement is required which locates mathematical discourse as a school subject that is not only about "how to do it", but more about "why and how and what does it mean." If mathematics has been learned as a subject that presents itself as a string o f task-driven procedures and disassociations, how are the students able 'to know' what it is that they do 'not know' , that they need to ask? . . . The silences within silence are very difficult to read... to 'know' that they exist in non-existence, and my mind starts to see the problem as a matrix of itifinite ' cu l de sacs'... I feel like I am being pulled into a vortex and then thrown out on some invisible 'other' side into a dead space of dreaded silence... Marika turns the book to the last page, but she has gone silent too. I hear the sound of the paper as the page turns. There is a long pause and I notice that the wind has stilled outside. The smell o f late afternoon, o f cooling earth, seems to find its way through the door. Outside, I hear the horses, anticipating the time when they are to be fetched and taken home. There is a long whistle in the distance. I haven't heard that sound clip of a South African rural setting in so many years. The horses move again. One neighs. Mar ika gets up. Before she closes the book, I see a column of tiny diagrams of 112 shapes and solids. O n the right of each is 'the answer' or a space where the answer is left out or is unknown. A triangle has 'no answer'. Next to the square is the word 'skwar' which has been marked incorrect with a neat red cross. A circle has the word 's irkel ' next to it, and it too has been marked with a red cross. A cylinder has the word ' t r apez ium' c c next to it, correctly spelt, but it has not been marked. I wonder why? I wonder i f there had been any discussion to separate out 'incorrect spelling' in English, from 'incorrect mathematical' concept.... But, I say nothing... I feel defeated! Marika carefully packs the book away in a hand-made side pocket made from checkered red and white cotton. These pockets are all the same and hang neatly from the side of each desk. Each student's set o f exercise books can be kept inside the pocket at their desk. I recall these pockets from when I was in grade one, nearly thirty-five years ago. It has been that long and it brings back a memory o f my early schooling, o f 'order' and 'discipline'. Marika gets up from her chair and, as i f she feels she needs to clarify the context in which she works, she begins: " Y o u know, it is not always easy... it is really hard trying to teach these kids. It's the language and the poverty and the differences in age and they come and go as their parents move. When they come here from another area, from another farm school, their standard is very weak. Sometimes they come with certificates saying that they have passed grade 4 or whatever, but I don't know what their teachers are doing 'trapezium': referred to as a 'trapezoid' in North America, 'trapezium' is used in most of Europe, the U.K and South Africa to refer to a quadrilateral (four-sided, bounded figure) with at least one pair of parallel sides. 113 because there is no way that they are up to grade 4 standard. Then there are others, some of the older ones that shouldn't be in school anymore, that come here and they are not interested in working, in learning anything, they just look for trouble. They have got an attitude, you know. L ike there was one boy; he was eighteen years old already and he just sat at the back of the classroom and he used to just look at me. I tried to get him to do some work, to listen to my lessons, but he was very lazy and he didn't want to work. A n d then at break time, he would talk about politics and try to get the other students going.. . to try and cause dissention amongst the students. I tried to tell h im to stop it and not to be a troublemaker. But he would just look at me with that look. . . ." Mar ika stands at the black slate board at the front o f the classroom and looks down, arranging the white pieces o f chalk in a long neat line. "Then I had to go and tell the farmer in charge here, M r . Vincent, that this boy was using politics and trying to cause trouble with the other kids. I couldn't work like that any more. It was going to start affecting the other kids and my classroom control." She pauses, then goes on: "The farmers were furious and they had a meeting and so they got together and arranged to take this boy off the school property and they gave him a good sjambok D D to teach him his lesson." She pauses again and I feel her looking into my face. I show nothing.... "Then later the parents complained and it was a big thing. The education department inspector in charge of this region, a M r . Mokalo, he came to speak with me and Sjambok: It is a leather whip, traditionally (African) used for herding cattle. 114 investigate the incident. I told him what happened and he agreed that I was i n the right. They had no claim because the sjamboking took place off the school premises, but the parents had lied and told him that it was done at school and that I had caused trouble and had arranged for the beating. M r . Mokalo agreed that it was not done on the school premises and so, I was cleared and that was sorted out...." Mar ika faces me, as i f she is looking to me for understanding, or empathy. She continues, more emphatically: "But the boy came back to school for a while and one day he walked up to the board where I was standing... and he came and stood right next to me in front o f the other kids and I felt threatened. Ja, and he said to me that I was aracist, ja , to my face... that I was a racist, and I said to him: 'I am not a racist. I f I was a racist, I wouldn't be here trying to teach all you children.. . ' " Outside, I hear my sister and Marika's husband laugMng in conversation. Their voices are closer now as they come back into the room: " H o w is it going?" my sister asks. "Ready to go yet?" I get up from the school chair but my legs feel like they belong to someone else, someone walking the dark tunnel of the past, some former person I was, reliving old experiences of my own early schooling, of the ideologies of Christian National Education, of threat and fear and hatred, of authoritarianism and verkramptheid and dogma and mindless ignorance. I feel nauseous... that old, familiar taste of Apartheid! "Ja, I think we are ready to go", I hear myself say. "Ja, we are done!" Mar ika echoes and makes ready to leave. I hear the familiar sound of her keys to the school door scraping the desk. I replace the plastic chair on the desktop and, for a passing moment, I have a 115 connection with the student who sits there. But it is an unfulfilling one. I feel a sense of inadequacy and defeat, like I have taken some of the student's life story with me, but was unable to give back, to make a difference, to provide a small space... just the tiniest space... just a little spark of hope! The circle of oppression is complete. On the road again, the conversations were familiar and 'normal' as i f nothing was amiss, as i f the story I had just heard from Marika was simply an ordinary piece of fabric that was woven into the tapestry of daily life, fitting into its place so perfectly, so resignedly. I wonder, as I watch the passing scene of distant foothills and undulating fields in the mottled light of late afternoon, what it is that produces the conditions of normalcy, acceptance and uncontested terrain. What produces contexts of limitation and impossibility? What does it take to create the kairos of hope and constructive change? On what passing wind and when wil l the seeds of social justice and mutual respect find a fertile place to take root? How many generations will it take before the force of change will set the stubborn and inert cogs of passivity and acceptance into motion? When will the place-dependent, taken-for-granted assumptions about conditions of being be held up for scrutiny, be re-imagined, and become contested? I realize that it cannot begin in one place only, but that it must begin in multiple places at once and allow for multiple frames of reference. Where can it be found? Does it lie with the land; the streaks of hard light that provide the days with performative possibilities and that reify the quotidian of this rural life? Perhaps not, perhaps these rays merely spotlight the local and the everyday of this land-locked rural setting, making it unique but ordinary, 116 specific but assisting in reproducing the same conditions of 'normalcy'. H o w can new conditions o f normality be created? H o w can we, in this place, (re)gain our integrity as a society, a people, a nation, anew? How can the filaments of a trans-human moral conscience be fused and ignited? Perhaps it is in the people? But who w i l l be the ones to set the fires of possibility and hope on the open veld of despair and acquiescence? When w i l l there be a readiness and from where and from whom w i l l it come? We arrive back at the Engelbrecht's home as the shadows of the coming dusk seep into recessed spaces of the land and herdsmen chase livestock back to their corrals for the night. The farewells are being made. Marika tells her three-year old daughter to run inside and fetch a loaf o f home-baked bread for us from the kitchen.. .as a farewell gift. "Baleka, baleka!" E E she cries after her, with large gesture and a loving expression on her face. I am filled with a great strangeness! I see the person that I think is Marika: the loving mother, who speaks to her own child in an indigenous African language... not her mother tongue... the language o f her students! I see the teacher who, believes she is doing her best, is proud of her work, who, in accordance with Education Department requirements, teaches her students in English! I see her as another human being like myself, with the same human potential for pity, remorse, conscience, empathy... and yet... caught up in the reproductive power of our shameful history! I can see that she wants reassurance from me.. . from teacher to teacher... that she wants me to say that she is doing a fine job and that I admire her for what she is doing under such difficult circumstances... but I cannot! I feel as i f I have failed her because I cannot be gracious Baleka": Xhosa for 'run', as in 'hurry up'. 117 enough to say i t . . . to mean it! A n d yet I know that she too, within herself, carries her own silences, adding a silence to my own. Inside, the anger and disappointment o f Marika ' s narrative is stil l burning, in another silent dark place within me, as i f it had always been there as a glowing ember, but had been rekindled anew. It comes from a long dark tunnel of memory back into the past, hidden deep within the layers of fleshy earth, embodied within my other identities. The Land Rover engine starts up, jarring with the peaceful sounds of the farm. The route back to my sister's home seems so familiar as i f I had traveled it a thousand times before. But we take a detour and stop off at the Vincent 's farm. I am reluctant to visit after having heard Marika 's story about him and the local farmers' brutality to the young Xhosa student, but my sister has to deliver something to his wife from the Engelbrecht's. The Vincents are English speakers. They are better off than the Engelbrechts and this is reflected in the appearance of the two farms, most especially in the elaborateness of the Vincents' graceful home. We are invited in. John Vincent graciously ushers me into the lounge and hands me a glass of sherry. His wife immediately goes to find my daughter some books to read, and some puzzles and games lest she become bored with the adult conversation. He asks me about Canada and I tell him that the weather conditions are quite livable. He tells me about his relatives in Canada and the conversation turns, inevitably, to politics. Through the route of South Africa's 'woes' and 'problems', he 118 begins to tell me about his role in the political arena.... that he was asked by the ANC to represent this region, and he sat on the council and assisted in decision-making processes about regional poverty and upliftment... about the national ideals of reconstruction and development... and again, I could only be silent, listening, wondering, trying to piece and paste elements of the two narratives about this person together, to try and make sense of the senseless. How does the violence and violation of rights stand up to a nation's attempts at reconciliation, moral rectitude and healing? How strange the contradictions seem. What an eclectic montage of contrasting images thrown together in antagonistic profusion? Can a coherent, Gestaltian 'whole' be found; can the sense-making connections be established from the severed parts, from the disparateness and fragmentation? I looked within myself. Why had I been so silent throughout? Why had I not spoken back in an attempt to disrupt the taken-for-grantedness of the narrated events played out before me? Was it that these events had become a performance played out before me and that I was drawn into a view of my role as a non-participatory member of the audience 1 5 ? Was it because I had walked this road before and the conditions of silence are so deeply ANC: The 'African National Congress' is Post-Apartheid South Africa's ruling party. The ANC led the liberation struggle and was instrumental in enabling a change of government and the first democratic elections for South Africa. Initially banned by the then ruling Nationalist Party from the 1960's until it was unbanned in 1991, it would have been unusual for a white farmer in a traditionally Nationalist strong-hold to have supported the ANC prior to the elections. Further, as the ANC promote reconciliation and a democratic multi-racial South Africa, the actions of the white farmers in taking the law in to their own hands in 'disciplining' the Xhosa student, would be in direct violation of the established principles of the ANC and a new South Africa. Vincent's leadership role within a regional ANC council is therefore all the more contradictory given, according to Marika's story, his apparent unorthodox approach to dealing with the farm school student issue. established in the psyche from early in our lives that we automatically begin to play out the acquired behaviours expected of us? Silence is a condition of learning 'to be', made normal by the context, the people and place that produce the silence as an accepted and appropriate text of 'being'. I wondered i f that was it! I feared this silence greatly! Was 'knowing my place' or needing to be a 'polite guest' being evoked by the historical and cultural elements of the context? Or, was it that I was playing out 'the objective researcher' who was silent in 'his ' observations, simply watching, playing dead, denying the participatory role 'he' had in the elaboration of events... Or rather, was it that I had caged myself in by the theoretical proponents o f my own critical awareness? Was I too aware and cautious o f the unequal 'top-down' relations of power between myself, as researcher/narrator, and the 'subjects' of my research/ narration, to transcend it in this context, for fear of 'speaking back' becoming 'speaking down'? . . . Or was it, more dangerously, because, in this context, I felt that there was no point in commenting on, or challenging, the principles of what I had been told by the characters of the tale; that, in a sense, their stories were, perhaps, sacred to them and a part of their inner beings; that challenging some of the accepted 'truths' would not have been taken up well ; that there was no invited space for contested terrain; that, in this context, there was I have used 'his' and 'he' here to refer to myself in the context of the 'objective researcher', drawing attention to the gendered nature, and in particular, masculine orientation, to the scientistic discourse on neutrality and objectivity. no discursive possibilities or 'enunciative spaces' for a transformative dialogue? ... and that I realized that the transformative potential lay outside the immediate context in another place where I may compensate for this silence with my own voice through a narrated tale? To me, the most dangerous silence of all was that which was reflected in my own silent responses to the context of silence ... and, consequently, ever more urgent! How, now, do we (re)set a spark in the recessed places of silence left behind in the wake of the liberation struggle, the place where we overcame our 'states of emergency'' ""? It was barely light when we reached the dorp. The moon had risen silently and was faintly represented on a distant dark horizon, marking the events of the day as a normal function of the continuous cycle of night and day. Reflected on its great white orb, the eerie light of the sun fused together the mundane, the ordinary, the local and the unique, in recreating and normalizing the conditions of the everyday ...as states of naturel This is a play on the title of a well-known novel "States of Emergency" by recognized South African academic and novelist, Andre Brink (1988). "States of Emergency" is juxtaposed against the title and final words of this narrative... "states of nature". It raises the question as to whether our states of emergency and socio-political and pedagogic crises have truly been overcome, or if some of them have simply been recessed in problematic ways and in critical areas, becoming less urgent and more accepted as 'the way things are', as normal, as ordinary, and as the nature of the everyday. 121 ENDNOTES 1 I introduce the concept of 'performance' here, in describing the 'everyday', and return to it as a dominant theme throughout this narrative, as a means to explore the relationship between the qualities of'performance' and research, and to view discourse as 'dramatic event' and 'production' (in both the sociological as well as theatrical senses of the word), framed within the auditorium of 'context'. Derrida (1978) views discourse as 'spectacle', and it is this idea of viewing 'the everyday' as both 'ordinary' and 'unique', or 'mundane' and 'performative', which I am invoking here. Secondly, using 'performance' as a metaphor to examine the relationship between audience and actor in the elaboration of narrated events, recognises the moral and ethical dilemmas of surveillance in narrative research - who performs for whom, who watches and listens, who gets to describe about whom, and how is this framed within the context of relations of power between actor/audience, researcher/participant (or subject). Further, the idea of the non-discursive as possessing 'performative possibilities', beyond the discursive, is also explored. I use elements of nature and 'place', of historical consciousness and geographical location, of local conditions and 'natural cycles', symbolized by sunlight and times of day, to suggest this idea of 'creating the normal' through the performance of the everyday. 2 In Joseph Conrad's (1969) "Heart of Darkness", first written in 1902, Marlow asserts that "what saves us is efficiency - the devotion to efficiency" (p. 53). This is in reference to the colonial and "noble cause" of "progress" and "decency", and the busyness or "real work" of civilizing the "wild savages", thereby staving off "The Heart of Darkness". I invoke this image in the context of the "warring impis" of political change in South Africa to draw attention to the colonial enterprise still at work here in this geographical/socio-political context and to the theme, introduced in the first paragraph, of the established and quotidian 'ways of being' which create optimum conditions for the (re)production of "acceptance" and "normalcy" in our society/societies. 3 Foucault (1994), in speaking very broadly about the evolution of thought, language and knowledge across the ages, notes the impact on humankind of the development of a natural history, perpetuating and establishing a discourse of nature. He speaks about the classification and naming of objects in terms of a discourse of nature in the terms: 122 This a priori is what, in a given period, delimits in the totality of experience a field of knowledge, defines the mode of being of the objects that appear in that field, provides man's [sic] everyday perception with theoretical powers, and defines the conditions in which he [sicjcan sustain a discourse about things that is recognized to be true. (p. 158) 'Defining of modes of being' via everyday objects, providing a community's 'everyday perception' with 'theoretical powers', and the evoking of conditions which 'sustain a discourse about things recognized to be true', is synonymous with the ideas I am grappling with in terms of analyzing the creation and establishment of 'the normal' as 'states of nature' within an evoking 'everyday' community context and situated socio-political/ physical/ geographical location. 4 The concept of 'borders' or 'boundaries' (or, at least, bridging boundaries) is a general (and personal) theme in my research work that extends across other narratives. 'Borders' are both figurative, as well as physical, and have powerful representation in the lives of 'disadvantaged' communities. Not only are 'borders' demarcations that restrain and delimit access to material as well as pedagogic resources, but their existence and positioning are also invested in power, as is their maintenance or demise across contexts and over time. I use the description of borders of land here, as a metaphorical reminder to the reader of the historical colonial enterprise of the division of land and peoples. Redistribution of land and resources is a critical development and social justice issue, in the African sense, and it cannot be divorced from the broader context of political and pedagogic borders. In this sense, Apartheid serves as a relevant and pervasive example of the construction of socially-engineered divisions and borders which traversed psychological, sociological, historical, cultural, pedagogic, political, spiritual, moral and physical terrains. 5 This is ironic symbolism, because the bluegums are not indigenous African trees. They were imported from Australia and often threaten the existence of indigenous vegetation. This is analogous to the imported colonial education exhibited in the farm school, which threatens African innovation and empowerment rather than facilitating it. 6 On a primary level, this 'silence' speaks to the experience of the vast open spaces of the African landscape, its uniqueness and magnificence. However, on a secondary level, this is a contradictory 'silence', being both disturbing as it may be consoling. It points to the unease of this self-created experience of presence within a known and admired landscape, and it highlights 123 the haunting feelings of nostalgia I experience, and my fractured or contradictory senses of belonging. It also points to my awareness of other silent voices felt in the wind within a vast and changeable landscape, and to my own inner silence in attempting to deal with the conflicting emotions induced by the dilemmas of person and place. This symbolizes the individualized Western curricula, which have been imported to Africa through the colonial enterprise. It contrasts with post-colonial objectives of advocating 'indigenous knowledges', which espouse more inclusive, community-based ways of learning, (see Asante (1987)). The rupture between cultural community context and schooling context is another repeating theme throughout the narratives. 8 The discomfort and insecurity, which Nombolelo spoke about as having experienced, was expressed to me many times by other black teachers during my research period. It was also related to me by educationalists in the field as a prevailing 'truth' and I address this issue again in a later dialogue (outside of this narrative). In many educational circles and in popular discourse, 'black teachers' in South Africa are often constructed in terms of disadvantage, which I argue serves to disempower them in the classroom and undermine their authority and autonomy. Later, I provide examples of discourse from interviews that attest to this blaming/ positioning of 'black teachers' in South Africa. I believe that professed insecurity, discomfort (and confusion about the expectations made of them through the Curriculum 2005 document) exacerbates 'black teachers" position of disadvantage and disallows any platform for their and their students' 'success' within the prevailing framework. 9 Behind the debate on the 'problem' of 'black teachers' in South Africa, is another debate relating to the nature of teaching practices, i.e. whether the chanting and repetition evidenced in rural schools represents 'African ways of knowing' and 'indigenous knowledges', or whether it is the product of colonial education and teaching methods used over centuries; a continuation of the legacy of 'Bantu Education' in South Africa. Further, the fact that Marika is apparently surprised that Nombolelo is using these methods when 'she has recently been qualified' testifies to the prevailing discourse on teacher education of 'black teachers' in South Africa, where there is a spoken-about 'failure' in transfer of progressive teaching practices into 'disadvantaged' classrooms, despite teacher education colleges and 124 institutions' claims to embracing progressive methods. This is a source of much debate and research. 1 0 I am aware that while I am problematizing Marika's approach as one which constructs the students in terms of inadequacy and deficit in ways which, I believe, limits and constrains them pedagogically, I am also putting forward, as an alternative, an approach which supports my own philosophy to teaching which I view as potentially more enabling pedagogically, but which I am aware is fraught with contradiction. The work of Paul Cobb, amongst other prominent examples, advocates for an inquiry-based approach as a fundamental principle to mathematics teaching. It is an approach that begins with informal, situational problem-solving which attempts to approximate the general life experiences of the students in the particular classroom. Whilst this approach may also be viewed, in part, as problematic in that it is premised on assumptions about student demographics, it does, make some attempt to provide accessibility and meaning, and, as its point of advocacy, attempts to empower students pedagogically in the classroom context. However, another danger exists with the issue of transfer and generalisability to other less accessible problem-solving situations, and I would only advocate this approach with the understanding that the tools for transfer and generalisibility were made available to the students through the process. (See footnote 11). The purpose of my advocating another approach to Marika's, is not to fall pray to constructing her practice in terms of deficit, (just as she is constructing her students' learning as such), but to highlight that other possibilities can exist as a way forward pedagogically, and to show that she, herself, constructs her teaching situation in terms of deficit, disenabling any innovation or alternative approaches on her part. It must be noted, that I am not trying to construct a dichotomy of 'better' or 'poor' practice here, but am trying to draw attention to the possibility of 'leaping across the unimaginable', by attempting to create empowering possibilities of practice in delimiting contexts, and that the 'limitations' of context may well be socially-constructed and controlled by imperialist/ global discourses. 1 1 Certain tenets of progressive education lay claim to inclusivity through the myth of recognizing the 'diversity' of learners in ways that makes assumptions about students' 'needs' and what may be 'relevant' or 'appropriate' forms of learning for them. Very often, these claims are supported by 'constructivist' approaches to teaching and other cognitive ways of viewing learning, such as those frequently espoused in research and educational discourse often gleaned 125 from the research work on 'multiple intelligences' (Gardener, 1983). In this way, by laying claim to the existence of "gendered" or "cultural ways of knowing", (as has become prevalent in the rhetoric of progressive education), and connecting this with particular 'culturally-specific' types of 'intelligences' from a palette of 'multiple intelligences', the teacher/educationalist can lay claim to what the students' 'needs' are in accordance with their socially-constructed 'culture', 'gender', 'ethnicity', 'background' and 'experiences', (as innate psychological capacities), thereby differentiating her practices in the classroom. Whilst the principle of power remains with the teacher/educationalist in 'knowing' what then is considered 'appropriate' or 'relevant' to the socially constructed students' learning, this power is recontextualised within teaching practices. In this way, disadvantage is (re)produced for those constructed in terms of 'social difference' (from the alienating perspective of the dominant culture of the schooling context) and advantage for others, in context. Skovsmose and Valero (2001) discuss claims that mathematics, in particular, has/ can have 'intrinsic resonance' with democracy. They provide some of the reasons usually given to support such a claim. (They also discuss counter arguments examining mathematics' 'dissonance' with democracy). The first set of claims facilitate the view that mathematics, through utilitarian ideals in promoting 'technological progress' and 'social advancement' through technology, can empower and liberate societies. This argument is contradictory as the very mechanisms that connect mathematics to a 'use value', within a non-neutral social domain, are the very mechanisms that assist in (re)producing the divisions and locating individuals within associated social hierarchies, rather than liberating them. These contradictions and divisive criteria are obfuscated within the rhetoric of inclusivity. For example, Skvomose and Valero (2001) refer to these justifications as being associated with the idea that: "Mathematics Education contributes to the technological and socioeconomic development of society. It contributes to society's political, ideological, and cultural maintenance and development, and it provides individuals with prerequisites they may need to cope with life in its various spheres (Niss, 1996)", p. 39). This is certainly not a mathematics which is able to challenge its 'relevance' to 'various spheres' of life within a hierarchized social domain, nor one which empowers through contesting cultural imperialism! (See also Bishop, 1990). In fact, in my opinion, the alignment of mathematics with these ideals, without a critical examination of the underlying principles of power invested in such assertions (and without considering the problematic nature of mathematics' position of power in the hierarchy of social discourses), is Utopian, and is more dangerous than helpful to the cause of social justice. 126 1 2 Is this evidence of an implicit message that mathematics is the determiner of right and wrong in ways that transpose themselves onto morality and conditions of being? Protected by an 'ideology of certainty' (Borba and Skovsmose, 1997), has this representation of mathematics as a self-appointed 'judge of objectivity' and hence 'morality', permitted critical examination? Has the jury of scientists, social scientists and educationalists assisted in the criminalization of learners of mathematics, rather than question the credentials of 'the judge'? 1 3 It is also interesting to note that only positive integers, which are divisible by two, are used in this 'exercise' so that there is no immediate transfer available to numbers that do not satisfy these conditions or to 'real-life' situations where these conditions may possibly become available. 1 4 In this last decade, there has been a plethora of research in the mathematics education field on the use of writing as a tool for learning mathematics. Examples include the use of narrative writing and personal journals which are often advocated as 'progressive methods' for teaching mathematics. Other related research might refer to making connections between the way in which students present their 'thinking' in mathematics and the concept acquisition process or 'understanding'. 1 5 This would be in contradiction to a view of research as co-performance (audience-performer) (see Denzin, 1997, p. 4). It is an interpretation of research which 'blurs the boundaries' between audience and actors that I wish to achieve here. A tension exists however, where the 'elements of the everyday' do not confer on the audience their raison d'etre or defer control over the elaboration of events. Nevertheless, a concept of narrative as being co-created would facilitate a view of joint control by audience/ author and actors over its interpretation. 1 6 'Enunciative spaces' (Weedon, Tolson and Mort, 1986) might be understood as transformative places of possibility where re-visioning, re-imagining, and re-articulation of other alternatives can become legitimated. 127 FISHES AND LOAVES: A PARABLE OF "FAILURE" This autobiographical narrative serves as a reflexive and critical exploration of context and ideology in informing pedagogic practice in mathematics classrooms, most especially in contexts that do not represent the "ideal classroom " as framed within the hegemony of globalized/ globalizing discourses. The parable of "fishes and loaves " is used as a metaphor to explain the complex nature of mathematics teaching in a context of constructed "disadvantage ". Through the narrative, certain critical contextual dilemmas are introduced which highlight the problematic nature of certain educational agendas that do not consider the act of teaching in terms of 'contexts of possibility and limitation'. Two opposing ideologies are introduced in context: that of 'Africanisation', with its celebration of African epistemologies and ideals in a post-Apartheid South Africa, and that of neo-liberalism, which serves to undermine rather than facilitate the ideals of 'Africanisation'. However, neo-liberalism often becomes subsumed within Africanisation. The narrative sets out to illuminate how progressivist approaches to mathematics teaching are, therefore, ineffectualized or made redundant in classroom contexts representative of "impoverished communities ", where these approaches are conflated with neo-liberal ones. Consequently, in such contexts, 'disadvantaged' learners experience disempowerment and pedagogic impoverishment rather than socio-political, economic or pedagogic liberation. 128 " A n d Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick... ... then taking the five loaves and two fish, Jesus looked up to heaven, and blessed, and broke and gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. A n d they all ate and were satisfied." Matthew 14 (St. James version). "Imizamo Yethu" they call i t . . . "Imizamo Yethu", which means "a l l o f our efforts"... But I wonder? .... Within the sunken recesses of an imposing indigenous landscape, there is a place which breaks through the integument of a magenta-soiled Body-Earth. It is an eclectic montage of corrugated iron and hardboard, splitting the brush strokes of nature to expose its grit and bone... it is the skull of my country, its l ived and unlived moments, bearing the teeth marks of a protracted history of Oppression, a peopled past-place of pain and Struggle. Its name is "Imizamo Yethu", but the locals call it "Mandela Park" with affection and pride, suggesting through the many typifications of "African poverty" and "disadvantage", the hope o f a new life, of a new South Africa. This hope is embodied in the name of Nelson Mandela, who visited this informal settlement during his presidency soon after this country's liberation from Apartheid. To many o f its residents, Mandela Park represents a place o f contestation over land and resources. To others, it represents a place of unity and a spirit of reconciliation and transcendence... To some, it is a place of possibility to develop a new "Afr ican" identity, where indigenous knowledges may be 129 advocated and brought to bear on the process of Africanisation. Yet, its material poverty stands in symbolic irony to "the people's power". A t night the fires glow with an inward life through the indigo shapes of makeshift-shacks and fibrous brush, and the sounds of Afr ica are borne in choral cadences on capricious winds that sweep this rugged peninsula. The messages o f disparate voices are lost in gusts of incoherence, and I can hear, with certain clarity, O N L Y the force o f the silences. I look into this palpable organ of a people's hope,. . . but I feel also its dark disappointments. It is from this place, this informal settlement, that the children come... and they walk many a mile to a community missionary school, (which I w i l l call) 'Visserman's Baai Laer' (Fisherman's Bay Elementary). Perhaps, they come in the hopes of some divine miracle that one-day they might be able, through their education, to rise above the material and historical conditions of socially-engineered "poverty", beyond the land-locked, community-locked localities o f established "disadvantage" frozen in time? Or perhaps they come because this school represents for them a place of "belonging", a self-reproducing demarcation of a "disadvantaged community"? Perhaps it is a retreat where all children "are equal in poverty", a "protected" place in which they may assert the wealth of their humanity, divorced, momentarily and contradictorily, from the outside conditions of a world which "others" them and holds them to their prescribed spaces of "deficit" and "disadvantage"? 130 This time I was entering the community as researcher... examining pedagogic contexts of "disadvantage", scratinizing the relationship between discourse and practice in mathematics classrooms, observing the relationship between the way in which certain groups o f students are constructed in terms of social difference and the kinds o f pedagogic practices in mathematics that are afforded them. I was looking for evidence o f the "construction of disadvantage" and the "pedagogizing of difference". The theory was all neatly laid out and, notebook in hand, I was ready and eager to enter the classroom as academic observer. A n d so it came to be that I found myself in the midst of "the multitudes", a class of fifty grade 7 children from Imizamo Yethu. Their teacher had already abandoned them for more than three weeks, but they came to school nonetheless. A n d I can only assert that they were compelled to come, N O T by the promise of empowerment, because the paucity (or non-existence) of subject-based knowledge mitigated against this, B U T by a sense of commonality, of community and the knowledge o f a "place of belonging". I had a choice... I could have left the classroom, left the school and moved on to another school where my classroom observations would have been more "productive" in terms of the issues I wanted to address... the observations that fell neatly into my research categories, producing a seamless theoretical exposition and analysis. . . . But I couldn't... I could not avoid it. I could not bring myself to stand idly by and watch the waste of children without education. A n d the old rhetoric o f the Liberation Struggle reverberated in my skul l . . . "Liberation B E F O R E Education" they chanted... and I ask you what use is this form of "liberation" now W I T H O U T education... a contradiction in terms, indeed! 131 Behind the skull o f Apartheid, lurks vestiges o f the old, so-called Bantu Education, an "impoverished" form o f the already limited Christian National Education with which we were all indoctrinated, as children of the Apartheid state. Bantu education was imposed on black African and so-called "coloured" children.. .the future "hewers of wood and drawers of water", as the Nationalist government liked to refer to Black labour in those days. This biblical reference o f woodcutters and water carriers was, at that time, a hallmark of an ideology, which viewed black African people as inferior and only capable of menial labour . . . and the legacy of the system remains. "Would you like me to teach you some mathematics?' I offered. "Ja, asseblief, mevrou! Ons sal baie daarvan hou! Ja, asseblief mevrou!" ("Yes please ma'am, we would like that very much!"). They began to dance in their desks with excitement at the prospect of learning something... something new perhaps?, perhaps learning something differently?, learning something from me?, or perhaps... just learning something.. .anything... I was moved and heartened and I began to bless and break the bread o f my mathematical knowledge, my own empowerment, and divide it with affection and compassion.. .and I broke o f this body to give o f the light and joy o f this subject I loved so much.. .offering it in tasty morsels... this was surely more than mere fishes and loaves!! A n d I saw those glimmers o f light, the kindled glow turn from inward to outward, and flickers of understanding pass across the intent faces of these psychologically-abandoned, pedagogically-abandoned children. And after a while, the children began to answer my questions and even to ask questions and participate in the discussion, giving meaning through their bodies, giving back unsparingly o f their enthusiasm. I was greatly heartened as I saw this as tremendous "advancement" i n such a short time. For children that I had witnessed as having been exposed to nothing but transmission, rote-learning and proceduralism, (on the occasions when they were exposed to subject learning in the classroom at all), this was an "opening o f minds", an "awakening o f spirits", a "pedagogic achievement", a "progressivist success". I was elated... ecstatic! I was performing a miracle... I was proving that the miracle was possible; that my miracle could set a spark in the dry veldt o f despair and disillusionment and would Light the Dark and heal my whole country with a Sanctifying Fire. A n d just when we were about to consecrate the communion of Mathematical Thought, ...there was a Divine Visi tat ion. . . . The door swung open and a child entered. He handed me a crumpled white bag and was gone as suddenly as he had come... . A cloud passed over the sun and, through the broken panes o f the classroom window, the streaks of golden sunlight dulled and disappeared. The atmosphere cooled; the mood of the children changed.... A n d then there seemed to be a movement, indiscernible at first, and then ever increasing, a spiraling force drawing the atmosphere inwards, like a vortex, deep, downwards . . . into what I was holding.. . . a crumpled plastic bag\ The children began to move around in their desks in agitation. They were no longer focusing on the mathematics we had been doing... just the bag in my hands. The moment of Mathematical Mastery, o f Conceptual Glory was shattered! 133 A t that moment, I did not know what was happening around m e . . . / was now the one without immediate understanding, although, on a deeper level, having grown up in Apartheid South Africa, I recognized this as a 'possibility o f context' all too wel l ! Nevertheless, I must have shown shock and confusion in my face. "Dis die A p p e a l , mevrou! Dis die Skool Appeal, dis ons kos van die Appeal af!" ("It is the Appeal, ma'am, the School Appeal. It is our food from the Appeal,") they let me know, moving from their desks in an agitated dance towards me.. . towards the bag. "Watter 'Appeal ' is hierdie?" ("What Appeal is this?") I asked in confusion. A n d they told me in Afrikaans: "It is the white people, ma'am, that give us our school lunch. It comes from the children in the privileged schools, ma'am. It is for us, ma'am." Their hands began to touch on the sides of the open bag, to touch my hands, to look inside the bag. Was there enough food today, perhaps? N o never enough! I looked into the bag and saw a few sandwiches and fruit... white children's discarded lunches that had been collected for the day and brought to the school under the guise of "assistance" from the surrounding community. "Asseblief, mevrou, gee vir my. E k is so baie honger vandag!" (Please, ma'am, give it to me. I am so hungry today), they told me, competing with each other to gain my attention or to catch my eye, so that I may take pity on them over the next. I realized that I had the impossible task of having to decide who eats and who goes hungry that day. Everything had seemed to change... or had it? I had offered to teach these children mathematics; now I was expected, to preside as judge and jury over their bodies. I was no 'liberator" or Great Redeemer, but an accomplice... coerced into the discourse and practice of Oppression! The rules of the discourse of mathematics had shifted to a new discourse whose dominant and uncontested rules won the day. Instead of providing these children with 134 empowerment through access to the "regulating principles" of school mathematics, I was trying to bricolage some moments of pedagogic meaning.... draw some understanding from the context to enable a way forward... impossible! I realized with an Illuminating Light, that I was no Messiah. I could not provide the miracle o f "fishes and loaves". Just as I was not able to perform it pedagogically, so I could not break up the sandwiches and divide the fruit equitably among 50 children so that they all may be satiated. Some would have to starve and who would those be? For a fleeting moment, I heard the voice o f the progressive mathematics educator: "Draw on the life experiences of the children to help them concretize their mathematical thinking and see relationships between mathematics and real life, to see the relevance of mathematics to the real world." In this context, under these circumstances, what utter useless rhetorical nonsense! The children already knew that the principles o f divisibility would not work here, just as I knew my inadequacy in providing the Miracle of Divine Multiplication. White chalk dust from my fingers billowed in a fine mist as the movement o f small black hands over mine disturbed it. For a moment it clouded the view o f the contents of the bag and I thought I saw through the mist, the skull of my country looking back at me... and in it was my own skull... I had tried to provide a skin over that skull, to give it substance and embodiment through my own mathematical empowerment in a context where pedagogic possibilities are reduced to the rules o f "poverty". What did I think I was going to do? What Messiah did I think I was? Was I going to "uplift" this community, provide their children with the pedagogic promise of something "better" than fishes and loaves? 135 What "good" did the patronizing offer o f food for "disadvantaged learners" do for this community's educational, political and socio-economic empowerment? In what way did my actions or those o f the other do-gooders address the structural and material conditions o f the lives o f the children and people o f Imizamo Yethu? I began to divide out the fare in the classroom, desperately trying to find some rule of fairness to apply to an unjust task, ever aware that the broader injustice lay outside of the classroom, impinging on i t . . . . The school classroom, intentioned as a place of pedagogic empowerment, became a place of pedagogic impoverishment and one where the throttling rules of poverty reproduced themselves and were well learned and established! . . . A t the same time, i n another very different community school, a few kilometers away, children were learning mathematics with a breathless urgency! "Die kleinjies moet eers kry", I said. (The little ones must be offered first....) It was a l l I could think of. Was I trying to salve my own conscience because I could not find a fairer rule? Those respondents to the School Appeal who had donated the lunches, did they salve their conscience for the day? Could they see inside the classroom and view how their neo-liberal actions had played out? H o w teaching had been interrupted to satisfy more immediate needs in ways which reinforced dependency and held these people to their poverty. Had this helped to uplift a "disadvantaged community" or establish it? Was it facilitating Africanisation and empowerment? Or was it merely "fishes and loaves", a parable o f "failure". "Imizamo Y e t h u " , they call i t . . . "Imizamo Yethu", A L L o f O U R efforts... But, I wonder? 137 ROOTS/ROUTES This acts as an articulation of a journey of many routes. It is a storying of certain critical research issues and events as performances of personal experience and lived context. The intention is to seek personal and political 'resolution' through a 'sourcing' and 'resourcing' of our knowledges, epistemologies and understandings, rather than validation through proposing 'solutions' to 'root causes' and 'core problems' which is achieved via a process of objectification, verification and analysis within a positivist (cause-and-ejfect) research framework. Alternatively, the storying grows towards transformation, transcendence and personal, political and spiritual renewal. It is a montage, or perhaps even more so, a metissage1, of narrative and poetry pieces cohering around interrelated themes that find cohesion through fragmentation and coalescence, severance and re-growth. These themes are invoked by the relationship and inter-relationship of the metaphors of roots/routes, and the play on meanings through the play on words. The storying is a journey of seeking which calls forth, highlights and attempts to dislodge, or' root out', the dilemmas, contradictions, discourses and practices which emerge through many of the choices we make as we search or 'root' - like a wild sow in the sod - for routes towards transcendence, and we reflexively unearth our understandings of the histories, epistemologies, practices and prejudices of ours and other's roots/routes and routedness/rootedness. Consequently, these dialogues reflect on various issues and ideas associated with the sociology of power and the roots of discourses that delimit and differentiate, providing boundaries for some and possibilities for others; of the meanings of 'culture', 'identity' and rootedness; and of the search for routes towards roots and rootedness in routedness.2 The dialogue also sets up a debate about the nature of transformation and transcendence beyond personal and political paradoxes informed by neo-liberalism and related repressive and globalizing discourses. Through aesthetic and creative writing forms and a more personal, descriptive and philosophical approach, I have sought to move, in a reflexive manner, beyond the delimiting roots of deficit discourse and its unrootedness with the daily, local and lived. Through the use of an alternative/non-traditional writing-research approach, I have attempted, through my storying to explore other, less objectifying, ways pf being in research and to attempt to provide alternative pedagogies of possibility away from dichotomous discursive engagement and positivist approaches to research of this nature. By confronting the discursively and contextually constructed meanings of our knowledges and identities, and by attempting to 'resource' these through co-construction, co-authourship and 'humble togetherness' (or ubuntu3), the storying seeks to find a transcendent spirituality through the routes/roots of research, and achieve the emergence of mutually transformative possibilities through pedagogies of hope! 138 In the contradiction, lies the hope. Bertholt BrechtA She sat there in the classroom politely answering my questions. I could feel her wondering if she was "doing well",... or so I imagined, ... giving me the "correct" answers to my questions and probably hoping that the interview would end soon. I felt, in this context, as if I was simply another added component, or perhaps agent, of her institutionalized life at the school... This was yet another "test".4 Although I was making every attempt to keep the interview 'conversational' and although it was, perhaps, not quite the same as her daily experiences within the classroom, I could feel that she was, in this context, resigned5 to this teacher/student, adult/child interaction. Nevertheless, I could also feel that she was eager to be free of the "great surveillance", the curious watching of her, like a creature in a laboratory, a subject of scientific experiment... "free" from this ... as I am imagining it... this 'interrogation'... at least, until the school bell rang again tomorrow morning.6 It was a cool Cape afternoon. Slanted winter light fell through the mesh-covered windows, forming fine elongated patterns across the wooden desks. It shrouded the A Brecht, translated in Silberman, (2000, p. 148). Note that the translation I use here is the most prevalent one, but Silberman uses the more literal translation of "Contradictions are our hope" directly from the German: "Die Widerspriiche sind die Hoffnungen". This is Brecht's epigram for his booklength sociological essay called "The Threepenny Lawsuit". In e-mail conversation with Dr. Silberman, he argues that the use of the plural for "contradictions", which is "widerspriiche", conforms to Brecht's understanding of webs or networks of contradictions, as elaborated in his essay and elsewhere. 139 classroom as i f i n a film o f gray gorse, blurring the definiteness o f the objects o f schooling in the room.. . obscuring any sense o f Presence.. .any stark or all-encompassing Truth. In one sense, I felt uncomfortable and uncertain o f the 'reality' o f this context. Yet, I was also acutely aware o f how situated this reality was and at the same time, in many ways, how it resonated with the alienating realities o f many schooling contexts across the world. M y senses were registering cues from the setting and the context that evoked, with a v iv id recollection, the feelings and experiences o f schooling institutions i n the past and of the mechanisms of control and conformism, the long socialization and molding of identities. From my trans-cultural location as a 'white' Canadian researcher, backgrounding my identity as a South African who has had experience in and with such communities, the recognizable specifics o f the context o f "disadvantage" were evident everywhere, embodied in the physical environment, inhabiting each insignificant comer, with an immediacy that is all-pervasive: mapped into the bleak walls; the old department-regulation school paint; the heavy wooden desks, pitted and marked; the institutional sounds; the reflected light, bounded and dulled; the lifeless colours; the tastes; the smells; . . . the atmosphere.7 Outside, beyond the textured space of the classroom, I could hear the raucous call o f feasting gulls. With it came the stench.... The stench o f rotten fish from the harbour wafted in fine, yet pungent, gusts through the window and infused into the atmosphere, an immutable element of the setting. A n d yet, being ever-present, it became 'unnoticed' by the repressive conditions o f "poverty" and "disadvantage", which assists o in the production of the accepted norm. 140 She rubbed her knuckles on her thin hand placed neatly on her lap, her legs tucked to the side of the desk, crossed at the ankles where her short white school socks accentuated her bare legs . . . the hem of her school gym slip delineating the school girl from the young woman. She brushed back a profusion of curly dark hair that had escaped the restriction o f her headband, - and from the gaze o f one creating, writing and performing narrative towards the context of a Canadian audience and academic setting, -1 notice her quiet beauty and dark brown eyes vividly reflecting her mixed heritage o f European and African roots. 9 "So then can you tell me why you are doing mathematics?" I continue with the interview, despite my discomfort with this role in this context, ever aware of the power relations instantiated in the act of interviewing... o f (re)presenting, of the differential positioning between us in a historical context that has deeply embedded hierarchies of race, class, culture, age, gender.... ah! The gender was where I might call on some small commonality of experience, albeit reconfigured and partially.. .perhaps significantly distanced by class, experience, age,. . . ' race ' , . . . She lifts her eyes to me: "Because mathematics is very important", she answers in her "Cape Coloured" dialect, tilting her head to the side and pressing her lips together for the plosive "p" in the word "important" possibly to provide it with the formality and seriousness she thinks, perhaps I think, it deserves. I can hear the external authorship of her statement she carries with a clarity of voice, as i f she were the very first ever to say this, making sure she is "getting it right" for me, the "mathematics educationalist and researcher." I realize that I am caught in the web.. . the web o f pedagogic repression... and she is with me... . and, because I am caught in the web, she is enmeshed more firmly in my web too.. .webbed within a web.. . A n d I want to ask: "Whose webs are these... and how do we so easily become its victims?" 1 0 Not knowing a way of extricating myself from the firm grasp of the sticky mesh, I continue to play the role. "Why is it important?" I ask, with assumed naivety. "Because it helps you with your problems", she says without hesitation, seeming to feel confident that she has learnt this splice o f the "progressive education" text wel l , the recruitment (albeit one o f misrecognition) o f the utilitarian discourse on "mathematical problem solving" and its crucial connection with "real life", the rhetoric of the myth of "relevance" 1 1 alive at play.. . and o f the popular discourse on why you must work hard at your mathematics, that it w i l l pay dividends and uproot you from your "squalid life", 12 your "poverty", the hopelessness . . . . "Make sure to do your homework like a good gir l !" the Voice says, silencing other voices of contradiction, despair and frustration. 'Here lies the light of redemption and promise... a better future!' "Why does it help you with your problems?" I continue. Is my voice a little detached, I wonder? . . . I 'm not sure... Is it, perhaps, that my voice is picking up the disjuncture in the fractured spaces between voices o f dominance and silence, or is it continuing to fall into the web of silence i tself . . . a silence in the interstices between the human and de-human, the objective and subjective, the lived and unlived places of research and practice, theory and analysis? . . . . 142 She hesitates for a moment and bites her bottom lip. I see her rub her knuckles again — somatic messages, perhaps, o f her psychophysical discomfort. A n d I can feel that she is not sure whether or not she got this answer "wrong" or "right." Wasn't her reply self-evident? W h y am I asking her the obvious? Was I displeased with her, perhaps? I imagine I hear her voice i n the tacit between asking and answering questions, wondering i f she had not read the textual rules o f the context correctly: "Wasn't that what I was supposed to say to a mathematics teacher?" She tries again: "Because.. ." she falters... I see her eyes moving round the room as i f to find cues from her environment to answer the question... searching for the "right" answer... knowing that she w i l l have to 'guess it ' again, but hoping to read my mind. . . read 'the teacher's mind ' , perhaps in the same way she has to do in class... learn the 'schooling schema', find the answer by looking outward, denying the inward one, because the 'inward answer' is always "wrong" in school . . . . Her eyes come to rest on the slate board.... They move away and connect with mine again, searching for the cue... A flicker o f light! A n d her eyes dart back to the blackboard. What is it, what can she find to assist her on this Euclidean space of traditional institutional dominance in the room? ...I too look at the board. . . . Our glances converge on the white chalk symbols pressed in powdered paste to this black, flat, unyielding surface looking blankly back at us . . . The writing refers to the Theory of Quadratics. It reads: " I f the discriminant is greater than or equal to zero, then the roots are real; i f the discriminant is negative, then the roots are non-real; i f the discriminant is a perfect square, then the roots are rational; . . . " , it goes on, line after line, listing the 143 conditions of the discriminant of the general quadratic formula and the nature of the roots of a quadratic function 1 3 , in robotic style.... And in the clinicism of the moment, this sanitized "reality" 1 4 , my focus waivers and my mind begins to abort this sterile two-dimensional image, block-framed in black and white. And in the stasis created by the vacant image, another takes form... one of the person ... Adriaana... in her home... We are just around the next street... In the kitchen... Adriaana rolls up her sleeves to plunge her arm into the soapy bucket and spreads the contents in broad sweeps across the blue-patterned linoleum floor... She has done this many times before.... The tiny bubbles burst into life, all agog, but pop and disappear quickly with each stroke.... There is the familiar smell of 'Cobra' floor polish and 'Sunlight' washing detergent in the house... In the background, her mother is sitting on the stoep B with another woman, a neighbour, with green plastic hair curlers sticking out beneath a cerise nylon doek . Adriaana's mother curses as she rubs bruises on her arm. She sighs, opening her mouth to expose her missing teeth: "Darrie blerrie donnerse man van my... en darrie blerrie bliksemse bran'ewyn bottel!" D Her voice is high pitched, but scratchy from cigarette smoking. ... Her neighbour responds empathetically: "Ag, siestog, Marietta, dis nie 'n lewe nie! Die blerrie bogger!" E The sound of the kettle B Porch c Head scarf D "That bloody (dam) man of mine and that bloody (expletive - 'dam') brandy bottle!" The expletives 'bliksemse' (referring to lightning) and 'donnerse' (referring to thunder) cannot be translated directly. Usually, when used in reference to a person, they infer the meaning of scoundrel or blackguard, etc. E Ach shame, Marietta! This is not a life! That bloody bugger! 144 boiling blots out the voices o f the women in conversation and Adriaana jumps up to make her mother and neighbour some tea i n pseudo-Victorian cups, faded and floral... this is no new scenario in her life! There are children's voices i n the road. The fly-screen door screeches open, banging against crumbling and grimy brick corners, and five small children come bursting through the house.... Adriaana shoes them back out the front door... "Nee, nee, nee... gaan uit, gaan uit. . . ek maak die vloer skoon... waai nou!" F She returns to the kitchen to finish making the tea, . . . pausing for a moment to rub her knuckles.... There is a background noise in the kitchen, as i f there is a radio on in the bedroom.. . . It crackles for a moment, . . . but I can hear the voice o f Adriaana's mathematics teacher speaking in cadences... across the spaces o f the many local contexts of this community... " Y o u know, there are many social problems in this community... so it is very difficult... we have the problem with drugs and gangs here, and also there are a lot o f domestic problems in the home and lots o f alcoholism... . Y o u must remember that there is a lot of domestic violence and then there is also a high incidence o f rape in this community also.... A n d with all o f this, the parents don't really care about the kids ' homework, so we don't get the support from the community... that is why we get very bad results. A n d the department has classified us as a 'dysfunctional school' the radio crackles again, but the transmission clears quickly. . . " Y o u know, when people hear the name of our school, it sounds like an ordinary school, Fisherman's Bay High, but they don't realize that it is 'us', it is actually, Visserman's Baai Hoer, and we are not like other schools, we have no resources like the other schools and we are this problem community.. ." The F No, no, no... go out, go out,... I am cleaning the floor, ... go now! 145 voice o f the teacher is overlaid with others, intertwining with a chorus o f dominant voices o f deficit. The teachers' voices sing in obbligato, above the heavy tones o f this scene I have placed i n performance i n my mind, whose voice, as I see/hear it, is rooted/routed in 'the everyday' experience o f Adriaana's l i f e , . . . and that o f her peers There is a crackle, again... I hear the sounds o f the Mosque. . . time for afternoon prayers... and I am called back to the immediate 'reality' o f the classroom, and the white chalk symbols on the blackboard come back into view. . . Adriaana is speaking. " Y o u know", she begins, and then she constructs her answer formally for me as i f answering a question in a comprehension test... "The reason why mathematics helps you with your problems is that it helps you . . . " she looks at the board for her cue, " . . . not to be negative. It helps you i n reality to find a , . . . a rational solution to your problems", she says, looking at me with pride, appearing confident that she found, for me, the right 'mathematically relevant' connection. That should please me! What a clever girl! But she needs one more statement to reinforce that she is "right", "right" for me, for what the mathematics teacher and researcher wants. She wants to finish with aplomb... she looks back at the board... Heading up the stream of symbols is the word " R O O T S " , thickly underlined in white chalk. She looks directly into my face smiling, and then pushes back her hair, ready for the final run.... A n d in dramatic and ironic conflation and misinterpretation of meanings which serve to provide a powerful and v iv id articulation o f school mathematics' mythologizing gaze and, consequently, of its 'unrootedness', 'misrootedness', irrelevance and irreverence to the daily lived experiences o f Adriaana's l i f e , . . . she concludes: 146 "The reason why mathematics helps you with your problems is because..." she says with a flourish, ". . . because it helps you get to the ROOTS of your problem!" Dark roots, L ike fleshy limbs, Pushing into yielding soil , L ike a snake into its hole. Roots, Seeking solace beneath the earth, Away from light, Turning from "the gaze." "Weeds! These do not belong here! They're a problem. They must go." I pull and yank the thick tenacious twines, They resist! I apply more force, Wi th two hands now. . . pulling upwards, Towards the light... They yield! A s they slip from their life source, Their belonging place, I see that... They are not alone! Delicately intertwined, Are the roots o f others, Others I thought worthy o f life, Threaded together in mutual co-existence. I had not seen them, Hidden beneath the earth, Their role and relevance... So deeply embedded. I judged on what I could not see, I severed the coherence. I broke the web, Flaying disembodied limbs o f roots, unearthed... Lost! 149 " Y o u mathematics education researchers," he says, half jokingly. "I don't know.. ." . H e laughs and shakes his head a little self-consciously, ... or to be polite perhaps. He knows he is positioning me now as one o f 'Those'. . . making presumptions about me.. . He is congenial and friendly about it and I can see that he hopes I don't mind! .. .1 don't m i n d . . . I understand and appreciate this in context o f this cultural aspect o f South African humour. He had been telling me the details about his family's vacation to Australia and how 'nice' it had been. Through the manner o f his 'telling' and the subject matter he evoked i n the interests o f being 'conversational', I feel that perhaps he is self-consciously trying to impress me about his 'transcultural capacity' and his transnational perspectives and experience, responding to the 'expected gaze o f whiteness', embodied by my 'white stranger' presence i n this context, by attempting to 'prove' his sophistication: 'well-heeled, well-traveled and well-educated!'.... H i s manner comes across as charismatic and conversational, and he speaks only in English, i n distinctly elocutionary tones, compared with the accent and dialect I had heard h i m using to other staff members, borrowing from, or converting entirely to Afrikaans. N o w , . . . in his office - the principal's off ice, . . . face-to-face i n this context, ... he has switched codes,. . . perhaps in an attempt to recruit criteria to establish sameness with me ... locating 'common' codes to engage in consensual discursive rituals... perhaps to evoke some commonality with 'whiteness' and 'social/intellectual class', in terms of which I am now being positioned. From my perspective, in this context, this seems to work in consonance with a linguistic distancing of himself from his "Cape Coloured" roots, in trying, as I interpret it, to 'survive' the commonplace 'white gaze' on 'the other'. I interpret from these cues that he is attempting to divest himself of the constructions of 'situatedness' and 'poverty', and, with it, the repressive localizing discourse o f race and place undergirding contexts o f "disadvantage" such as this one, acutely evident, from an 'outside' perspective, in the immediate physical and pedagogic spaces within and, even more so, without this room. I read his acting out as reaction to the caging in, the subjective positioning according to the historical rules o f the hierarchy of Apartheid still inhabiting the (inter)textured spaces of this local context. Nevertheless, I am aware, from my perspective, that this is not counter-hegemonic text and, as I am experiencing it in this context, it is fraught with dilemma and contradiction.... It is the kind o f dilemma in which I, again, become simultaneously the catalyst, the unintentional perpetrator (by my presence in this context) and victim-producer. A woman enters the room carrying two steaming cups of strong tea in clinking china cups and places them on one end of the principal's desk. She is the 'tea gi r l ' and 'cleaner' and wears a pink and white stripped nylon housecoat similar to those commonly worn, to this day, by domestic workers in many white, and now some 'black elite', South African homes. "Oh, Li l l i an , so you managed to find another cup... baie dankie, ne. G " He returns to his conversation as she quietly exits. She smiles at me before she leaves... I feel like a 'house guest'. The principal of Visserman's Baai Laer (Fisherman's Bay G ... thank you very much, hey ('eh) ! Elementary) assumes his previous posture, cross-legged, casual, glancing pensively out of the window from time to time as i f considering some idea o f great import that requires astute decision-making on his part, . . . or so it appears to me. M y mind is registering: "perhaps that is what he wants me to think.... because o f this context, and in relation to it, what he perceives me to be." " A l l these new methods and this progressive education thing . . . ", he continues after a long pause,"... and these kids still don't know their times tables! So what is the good of all of i t . . . ?" A t first, he assumes the posture of someone in debate, but then he jumps up and starts to stride across his office, gesticulating as he talks. I sit on the other side o f his desk as he performs for me, explicating his argument against progressivism in an extemporaneous and agitated dance. "When I grew up, we did it by rote, and at least I can work out my budget and do multiplication without having to reach for a calculator... But these kids today, i f you ask them what is two times seven, they don't know. . . . " He goes on: "But we have to embrace this progressive education thing.. ." M y mind is trying to reconcile this outburst against progressive education with the very traditionalist and procedural practices 1 51 have evidenced i n the classroom. A n d I am trying to provide it with political place and voice. But where is this voice coming from and why? A n d how does this measure up to the practices I have observed within the classroom? Is this a debate he is opening up and can I answer back, . . . should I answer back? Or is this a one-way transmission, a route to a cul-de-sac? A n d where and how come is he making the assumption that I am an unquestioning advocate o f progressive education? Is it something that I said . . . or something that I appear to be or appear to 152 stand for? A n d so, I begin to see where the thread o f the argument is going, and in it, I think I see the source . . . I realize that this statement has more to do with his positioning of me as "a white South African mathematics teacher, or even more so, a white Canadian researcher", and his own relational positioning in this context, and in the take-up of these positions, (that is, how they shift and are reconfigured and established in a local context within a broader context of constructed "disadvantage", and o f the other social domain discourses which inform it), than it is about the pedagogics or politics o f educational progressivism itself. The motivating principles lie in the multiple voices, authorial and distal, that overlay and undergird the present context, and contextual agency is rooted in the routedness of the argument... in the network o f dialogues that construct and assist in the maintenance of the discourse o f "disadvantage" itself. I infer from this that the meaning lies, not in any "truth" o f the statement itself, but behind this "truth", in the interstitial spaces of silence within a broader structure, that either obscure meaning, or generate other meanings,... meanings seldom straightforwardly articulated. A n d despite this . . . for a moment. . . I want to ask what I think are crucial questions, which, for me, highlight the contradictions of the statements I have just heard from the principal o f this elementary school. I want to ask him, why it is, that, from my perspective, I have not really evidenced any real attempt to engage in any progressive education practices within these classrooms... why I have seen so much rote learning... when any pedagogic learning took place at a l l . . . or why I have seen, from my perspective, so much apparent indifference.... why it is that corporal punishment is still 153 used here, when it has been made illegal to engage in physically punitive practices in South African schools.... why so many o f the teachers are so seldom in the classroom when the current National Minister of Education, Kader Asmal , has made urgent and repeated appeals to teachers across the country to take their jobs seriously for the country's sake, for the sake of our youth and the future generation o f South Africa now in creation? Where does the proverbial 'buck stop', who is responsible, who cares, why not, and how can we make a difference? I want to ask him why he closes the school early so frequently, causing very small children to have to walk home alone, often unescorted back to their homes in the informal settlement where they are not attended to or protected because their parents or caretakers are at work? Where does his responsibility to the community end . . . or where does it start? Why does he use class time to have meetings with his staff, and why so frequently is learning interrupted for apparently, from my perspective, inconsequential issues? Why does he legitimize teachers' missing classes by engaging in these practices himself? Why can't meetings take place after school? I think o f how the school day ends at 2: 00 pm sharp, 1:00 pm on Fridays, and how the gates are bolted and chained by 2: 05 every day, 1: 05 on Fridays, after which an unnatural silence pervades the school grounds. I think of how the school day ends early on days when the staff attend workshops run by the provincial department of education... and I see them all climbing into the school's mini-van, apparently eager to attend, waving and smiling at me as they drive off together: "Wonderful workshops!", they tell me, "with innovative ideas on how to teach mathematics... and some good progressive techniques!" 154 Again, as I have felt many times before, a strangeness and awkwardness overcomes me... and I begin to feel a sense of alienation and hopelessness! A n d yet, a part o f me wants to speak out. I want to tell h im what I think. I want to tell h im that I think it is not right. That this is 'just not good enough'! Is this what we were all liberated for...? Wasn't it to try and make a difference, to turn it around, to 'fight the good fight'! . . . Not to give in to oppression; not to submit to the authority o f poverty and consequently the authority of privilege that establishes the poverty; not to succumb to the worst form o f oppression, in Freirian terms, when the oppressed begin to oppress themselves.... I want to ask h im why? Why he is not seeing it, why he is so bound by this model of oppression, this discourse of poverty and situated experience that he cannot step outside of it, even for a moment, to see what it is l ike . . . . Is it that poverty is so rooted in 'situatedness', that it is so delimiting, so strangulating, that we cannot create even a momentary spark o f insight? Does it require a stepping aside, a looking awry, a new platform, another place, a firm patch o f new ground, to find it, to visualize it, to imagine? ...Does envisioning require the separation or abstraction from local context and its firm rdotedness to be able to provide perspective, generate new interpretations and conceptualizations, provide them with the flesh of real hope, o f tangible possibility? . . . . A n d then the blinding moment of anger passes... and I am back within this situated reality... I look out of the window.. . I see two girls scuffing their shoes in the red dirt... the dry dust rises in a small wisp of smoke... then one girl suddenly grabs the other girl 155 from the back by her hair and pulls her down into a kneeling position. There is anguish on the victim's face... but she doesn't resist. A n d it appears to me that this, or more, has happened to her many times before and she is no longer indignant, resistant, affronted... was she ever otherwise given the space to be such, I wonder? Her hopeless resignation angers me... I jump up and move to the window looking down onto the scene in the courtyard, the crisscrossing Euclidean grid of the window frame between us... the bully turns her eyes towards me and looks through the pane/pain... looks through her own pain . . . even with a blank undaunted stare... staring into my face contorted with a horrible mixture of anger, disappointment and pity.. . The Principal sees my reaction and he too jumps up to have a look at what I am looking at... He swears under his breath in Afrikaans.. . "darrie blerrie boggers van graad sewe kinders... uit die blerrie klasskamer alweer" H . . . his composure is broken, the posturing has disappeared... we are back to the immediacy and brutal 'reality' o f the moment... and partially recovering his previous tone, he relays to me in English: "Their teacher isn't here again today", as i f I might not have known this self-evident piece o f information. "Excuse me a minute", he says brusquely, and walks hastily out o f the office, across the courtyard, up the steep steps and stops in the open doorway of the offending classroom. From my visual perspective, the classroom behind the principal's dominant form is dark, unseeable and formless, like an auditorium when the lights have gone down - ready for the performance... a performance on a 'stage-in-the-round'. The two girls have already H Those bloody buggers of grade seven children ... out of the bloody classroom again! 156 disappeared back into the same room ... caught out... scampering, like a pair of frightened rabbits back into their dark burrow... I can see the principal shouting and gesticulating threateningly. He is silhouetted against the dark doorway, delineated by the door, and through the windowpane I can hear nothing of what he says... there is only silence... and it is loud in my ears... it is as i f I am watching an old-fashioned silent movie, being played out before me ... a performance in silence on the theme of silence, ... visible, audible silence,... I stand silently in the room, waiting and watching... waiting for the principal to return. The clock on his desk ticks quietly ... time passes... I am trying to comprehend the scene... I think back on what precipitated the current chain of events, to make sense of it. I think of the two rabbit girls scurrying away when the Voice of Authority entered the scene... I am a schoolgirl again... waiting in the principal's office... I am remembering the fear of bullies ... bullies that took all forms... classmates and teachers... I am remembering the smell and taste of fear ... the fractured, brutal, images of authority and its violent sting... I feel the same sick feelings coming back... deafening fragments of memories. I feel like a bewildered animal caught in the headlights of this strange blinding reenactment of repeated repressive realities.... At that moment... and it was not an epiphany ... but a slow blurred form taking root... re-rooting in my mind. It was a slow re-realization of what I had done by wanting to 'speak out' and to tell this principal that I thought it was 'just not good enough'.... It was a re-cognition of my own voice of violence... of what brutality I had done in feeding into 157 the discourse on "disadvantage". I re-realized that my thoughts, framed within the discursive roots of my socialization, my education and knowledge, my own perceived empowerment as an adult, and my experience of teaching within the context of privilege - which, through the temporal and spatial, defines the moment and place of poverty, subordination and oppression - had established that "disadvantage" as "plain to see". I began to re-realize that in my initial thought-words of anger, I had been taking on the colonizing voice which produces the deficit, and that creates, validates and establishes 'the problem' from outside... from a place out there that can speak unmonitored by its own surveillance... I had been doing the same thing as that which I had surveyed in the courtyard. I was producing and reproducing the very conditions that produced the bully/ bullying in the first place, ensuring its reproduction... through my own voyeuristic perspective and reproductive deficit language, albeit a silent language of thoughts. I too had become a bully. I was complicit with a system or discourse and a well-entrenched paradigm of thinking that constructs "the problem", establishes the 'truth' on 'deficit', and lays blame... I realize that my vantage point was at fault. That, in the contexts in which I had practiced my profession as a secondary school mathematics teacher in independent schools, the practices I was criticizing now would not have been possible... that teaching time was sacred, important, urgent and that time was of the essence, a resource of which there was never enough... From this vantage point, I notice the inversion... and the contradictions... 158 In a context of privilege, material resources are endless, ... paper, equipment, classroom space, computers, libraries, photocopy macliines, photocopy assistants, new technology, availability of resource materials, curriculum materials, pedagogic assistance, all within a community of Pedagogic Knowledge Experts... but time was a precious and limited resource, urgent, sought after, coveted... here it was the opposite - confined space, discomfort, lack of privacy, lack of expertise, lack of pedagogic support, noise, dust, the smell of dust... too many bodies, huddled bodies, wriggling, no space to think, no space to prepare... but... all.. .the... time... in .. .the... world... in a sort of time-warp... in a mental, psychological, sociological, human landscape offoreverness... These are the power principles that inform not only the political gaze from the perspective of the self, but also control the distributions of the spatial/temporal dichotomy and that define the political economy of context by assisting in the production of the poverty/ privilege hierarchy, and which define the roles of subjects in context... These are the principles of the politics of context that either delimit or allow spaces of possibility in accordance with the social division of labour of discourses (Bernstein, 2000) in the social domain in which the discourses of context are invested ... discourses which depend/ suspend entirely on the stringently policed rules of relations of power... This is how the principles of 'progress' operate across the temporal and spatial, in the race towards 'future advancement'. And defined by its own rules, it ensures very few ' winners', and many ' losers'! 159 I hear the deficit voices again... bullying voices... some voices of educationalists, specialists, and well-known people in authority in South African Education... people in the 'new arena' o f post-liberation education... people I interviewed... "The problem lies with our teachers... they are underqualified, demotivated, lacking experience and expertise... and there is not enough of them... our failures in mathematics can be directly attributed to the teachers... they are our problem.. ." I realize that in my own way, I was feeding into this, re-creating this monster, re-establishing this deficit discourse... I realize that i n creating the teachers, principal and their pedagogic practices in this "disadvantaged community" as lacking, as the "real problem", it was an escape, . . . a way of not facing up to not understanding... not seeing the source o f power and how it threads its way into the repressive web.. . Yes, I had become the bully. A n d the bully in the courtyard was as much, i f not more, my victim o f constructed "disadvantage" and the pedagogy o f pain and poverty that it produces, as she was a bully in herself. The principal was a victim o f it too, and I had not even begun to imagine the strangulating and delimiting conditions that this discourse served to produce and in which he was constrained to operate. This was the 'pedagogizing of difference' indeed, and a discourse in which I had participated. This was how the construction o f disadvantage begot pedagogic and contextually produced disadvantage. The principal came back into the room, looking a little harassed. A 'sideshow' had interrupted 'Our Performance' 1 6 and had seemed to detract from 'the conversation'. But, 160 in fact, it was a critical fragment o f the whole. . . . a necessary contribution to understanding the resolution o f the narrative, and in which our initial 'polite' conversation preceding 'the sideshow' had been the essential exposition. I, myself, had moved through several modes of looking, premised by various experiential podiums o f perspective... Consequently, when I had been angry and critical. . . my vantage point had been the context of privilege in which I had gained much (although not all) of my teaching experience... when I had overcome my anger and realized my role in the co-constructed authorship o f power ... I had returned to my early youth and to remembering... remembering what it was like to be bullied and to feel the hand of violence and the voice o f humiliation... and it was only then that I could begin to understand-feel with a deeper listening. It had required a range o f senses as it had required a shift in perspective. I had moved from a ' looking on' and the voyeuristic power instantiated in perspectives of 'seeing', to a 'listening to' , where the eyes are quieted by the sights and sounds within darkened silence, and the sense of hearing is peaked.. .tuning into silence... This had been my route.... Instead of trying to find the "root of the problem" and trying to "root out the problem", like a cancer from living tissue, instead I was moving towards 1 o searching for "the source". The source o f the problem lay silently behind the construction of "the problem" itself and threaded its way, like a tributary, to my very doorstep... I too was complicit, a collaborator o f deficit discourse, a root o f "the problem's" routedness. N o w I became responsible as well , through acknowledging that responsibility. 161 The I-you dichotomy had been broken by the emergence of a new bond of responsibility ... a humbling togetherness! I needed to listen collaboratively to that "source" in collectively finding a way together of "re-sourcing" towards non-impoverishment, other possibilities and mutual healing. On yet another level of perception, both ocular and audible, I realize that in my criticism of the principal, I had been not only engaging in the reproduction of master narratives on poverty and deficit that lays the blame on the victim and not the discursive power base that establishes it, but also in the reproductive (re)creation of "Truth", or verisimilitude.... and that the 'truth' about the black teachers in South Africa was an act in the creation of a simulacrum. Where to now in re-routing towards re-sourcing the discourse? Back in the office, the principal begins to speak again: "I have six out of eighteen of my teachers away again today and it makes it hard for me... I have so much work to do here, but I must keep on running back to classrooms to sort out misbehaviours... I can't go and teach them... I know I should, but I have too much work here to attend to, but I can't get it done anyhow because of all the interruptions...." "I hope I am not bothering you", I say immediately and stand up to leave. "No, not at all!" he says politely, gesturing emphatically for me to sit down. "I enjoy our conversation and it is good to talk these things through sometimes!" There is a long pause.... 162. I t i s i m p o r t a n t t o r e c o g n i z e , a t t h i s p o i n t , t h a t t h e r e i s p r e s e n t i s m i n t h e a c t o f t e l l i n g a t a l e , a n d n a r r a t i v e i s f i r m l y e n t r e n c h e d i n t h a t m o d e o f d i s c o u r s e . I t r e l i e s h e a v i l y o n t h e c o n s t r u c t i o n o f t h e p a s t b y p r o j e c t i n g o n t o p a s t e v e n t s t h e i d e a s , c r i t e r i a , k n o w l e d g e a n d v i e w p o i n t s o f t h e p r e s e n t . T h e p r e s e n t a n d p r e s e n t u n d e r s t a n d i n g s c a n n o t b e e x t r i c a t e d f r o m t h e n a r r a t i v e t e l l i n g . N a r r a t i v e p r o v i d e s t h e s p a c e f o r i d e a s t o c o a l e s c e , t o f i n d t h e i r o w n s e n s e , c r e a t e a n e w o r d e r a n d e s t a b l i s h a n e w s e n s e - m a k i n g f r a m e w o r k , i n f o r m e d b y a n d t h r o u g h t h e n a r r a t i v e f o r m a n d p e r f o r m e d o n t h e s t a g e o f t h e p r e s e n t . S o , t h e d i s c u s s i o n t h a t f o l l o w e d w a s n o t b a s e d o n m y p r e s e n t u n d e r s t a n d i n g s p r o v i d e d b y t h e l u x u r y o f t i m e t o p o n d e r a n d s e a r c h f o r m e a n i n g w h i l e I e l a b o r a t e o n t h e s t o r y . M y u n d e r s t a n d i n g s o f t h e e v e n t s o f t h e s t o r y w e r e s t i l l f r a g m e n t e d , w a i t i n g f o r t h e s t o r y i n g t o m a k e t h e m w h o l e . C o n s e q u e n t l y , w i t h m y s t o r i e d u n d e r s t a n d i n g s n o w , I m o s t p r o b a b l y w o u l d n o t h a v e f o l l o w e d t h a t r o o t / r o u t e b y c o n t i n u i n g t h e c o n v e r s a t i o n i n t h e s a m e v e i n a s I h a d t h e n . . . b u t I f o u n d m y s e l f a s k i n g : " H a v e y o u t h o u g h t a b o u t a s k i n g p e o p l e f r o m t h e c o m m u n i t y w h o m i g h t b e q u a l i f i e d t e a c h e r s t o c o m e i n a n d h e l p y o u w h e n y o u r t e a c h e r s a r e a w a y ? " H e p a u s e s . " N o . T h e y w o u l d w a n t t o b e p a i d . W e d o n ' t h a v e t h e m o n e y . " A n d a s I a s k t h e n e x t q u e s t i o n , I a m t h i n k i n g o f a q u a l i f i e d m a t h e m a t i c s t e a c h e r l i v i n g i n a n e a r b y p r i v i l e g e d c o m m u n i t y w h o i s a t h o m e w i t h h e r c h i l d r e n ; a f r i e n d o f m i n e t h a t I k n o w t o b e a n e x c e l l e n t c a r i n g , m o t i v a t e d t e a c h e r . ' P e r h a p s I c o u l d a s k h e r ' , I ' m t h i n k i n g , ' i f t h e s c h o o l w a n t e d m e t o . . . I k n o w t h a t s h e w o u l d n o t a s k t o b e r e m u n e r a t e d ! ' S o , I a s k t h e n e x t q u e s t i o n : " B u t , m a y b e t h e y w o u l d n o t w a n t m o n e y . H a v e y o u e v e r t r i e d t h a t r o u t e ? " a n d h e a n s w e r s d i r e c t l y : " N o . I h a v e n ' t . " T h e r e i s a p a u s e . . . . H e l o o k s t o t h e w i n d o w . . . 163 As I write this, I wince with excruciating embarrassment at the question, and I know that this returning to the story and embracing of the mistake I made in asking this question is part of the growth towards humility and empathetic understanding, without which my research would have little value other than to report on 'the process'. It also has further value in transparency and recognition of how deeply language and power are interconnected and operate in unison, and how what may superficially appear as, or even sincerely intend to be, a philanthropic heart and the desire 'to do good', is often invested in repressive forms of power whose broader political interest is to denigrate those deemed "disadvantaged", and to assist in holding such communities and individuals to paternalistic relationships of dependence and shame. It is the voice of neo-liberalism at its most effective, disguising the dehumanizing and disempowering elements of the kind-hearted gesture, behind the shroud of 'good intentions' and 'well-meaning generosity', appearing in the form of 'upliftment'. Of course, I shouldn't have expected the principal to want the 'hand outs' I was offering. His non-acceptance of the offer, albeit probably done to restore his and/or his community's self-pride, was simply highlighting and reinforcing 'the lack' and the deficit within which he was forced to operate. In so doing, it was establishing it as an uncontestable, visible 'truth'. I was disallowing him and his community any real self-pride. Mine was silence-making discourse whose investment and returns was predicated on pre-established silence... silence 'entruthed' in the spaces of the daily and lived.... Then I ask The Question: "Why are a third of your staff away today? I notice that since I have been here, this seems to be a frequent thing. Do you agree with me?" I know that I 164 am putting him on the spot. I am still firmly entrenched in deficit mode and there is an accusative tone in the construction of the question even though I have softened it with my voice.. . in the way I have asked it! Nevertheless, there is no 'togetherness' or 'ubuntu' in this question, just ' M e ' - the researcher, and ' h i m ' - the principal. The principal turns back towards me, and taking his spectacles from his nose, he rubs his eyes for a long while . . . There is a very long pause and I sit awkwardly waiting... the silence seems to be punctuated by a cursor... blinking . . . on and off... on and off... waiting for unready language...and as I become increasingly sorry that I ever asked the question at all , I increasingly am wanting - desiring - to know the answer I am going to be given. Which way w i l l the coin fall? Is this a game I am playing, and am I simply curious about the outcome, like a school mathematics game played in the classroom where the students are drawn into the activity simply by evoking the primary motivation of 'wanting to know the answer''! ... I know that the coin cannot fall on its edge... and i f it does, it w i l l spin for a short time, marking out playful, taunting, undirected paths for a while before it begins its wobble... coming to rest on one or other side... and who w i l l be the winner? I know that he is in a double bind. To acknowledge the problem as "a problem" is to assist in its construction and establishment, and provide linguistic and political ammunition for the construction of "the truth" about deficit. To deny it, is to do the same... there is no w in . . . but as this principal pauses to move through the mindless oscillations of positions, I imagine... no! I imagine I feel, that he is moving forward... trying to push it into a place beyond the 165 binary nature o f the bounded discourse... thinking within his soul . . . he seems to be reaching to pick up the coin. . . to clasp i t . . . to stop the oscillations... " Y o u know," he says with humbling sincerity, "I think it is beginning to be a problem.... I try to be empathetic and understanding... a lot of these teachers have domestic problems of their own and I try to show them understanding by giving them the time off... and then some o f them take time off for illness, and this and that.. . but actually, . . . yes, I think it is a bit o f a problem, because it is a problem for the school and a problem for the community.... Yes, it has become a problem for usl" ... I am not able to speak with any authority on the intended meaning o f the principal's words. I cannot with any sincerity say that he came to a transcendent understanding of "the problem", or to claim that he achieved a heightened consciousness o f the broader context of its construction and to problematize "the problem" itself. Nor am I able/ wil l ing to claim that he was enabled to divest himself from the paradox of acknowledging or denying "the problem", through the process of our discussion. M y research, or any other's, is not able to support such claims. This would merely be projection, in a way that simply closes down the debate. A t most, I can simply speak to what I feel it may possibly mean. But, in effect, the greater value of his words does not lie in their accessibility to analysis that ultimately establishes academic, political or epistemological "truth", or which seeks to validate this truth as "evidence". The value of the principal's response lies in the open-endedness of a debate that allows in the multiple dilemmas that inform the context, 166 language and principles o f power inhabiting it without singularity of objective, engagement i n oppositional discourse or absolute resolution. Its worth lies i n its illusiveness and unresolved/ unresolvable 'beyondness'; its diffusion and non-centrality; i n its non-causality, non-verifiability and mdeterminateness; i n its intangibility and everywhereness. Although I should never have asked the principal to commit to an acknowledgement or denial o f the teachers' 'rate o f absence' as " a problem" i n the first instance, once having been asked, the worth o f the dialogue is in the questions, dilemmas and alternative understandings it facilitates behind and beyond the question itself, and the positional and communicative disjunctures it exposes. It is a process which finds value i n inverting the dialogue and finding alternative ways o f proceeding, with movements that do not carry one along a known path, but recreate other paths, labyrinths, spaces to move about, albeit metaphorically l ike walking through walls! It is about moving out and coming together simultaneously... it's about digging down and pushing up, like a plant searching for anchorage and light at the same t i m e , . . . it is about at once finding place and searching for a new course... and it is about rootedness in routedness and finding routes towards roots... It is also none of any of these, but all of these at once - not in a moment o f time, or even in a temporal continuum - but ever present, past and future blended together and ever interconnecting i n a storied journeying... journeying towards sourcing... and re-sourcing... "Yes, it has become a problem for us!" We can ask questions about this statement, without ever 'knowing' one way or the other. We cannot verify intended meaning, but verification and 'truth' are not our objectives for transcendence. Yes, on a primary level, 167 it could be argued that the principal of Visserman's Baai Laer is recruiting the construction of the broader discourse on teacher absences as "the problem" so as to attempt to stand outside of it... yet, knowing that he is ever within it, by belonging to the "us" he refers to, and by not having been seen to have 'addressed poor work ethic' and 'managed improved efficiencies'. Not only can we ask about who constructs "the problem", who has primary authorship of it and who is situated within or without of it, but we can move to appreciate it as the paradox that it is, so that by understanding it we can begin to transcend it while remaining within it, nevertheless knowing that we can never divest ourselves of it and, simultaneously, that it can never be resolvable as a paradox of language unless the context changes. Yes, and we can understand that to deny "the problem" of teacher absences would be to provide it, in its oppositional stance, with greater "truth" in reproducing the "Truth" on 'black teachers' in South Africa and the legacy of hopelessness; to disengage with providing other alternative ways of educational practice; and to reinforce the interrelated pedagogies of poverty and disempowerment, disadvantage and despair. But,... to say that it is a "problem for us" is to provide it with joint ownership and co-lateral responsibility; to provide it with an opportunity to carry the people's voice as well as to redirect the language away from the dichotomies of who possesses "the problem", who constructs "the problem" and for whom is "the problem" a problem, but towards co-authorship, co-ownership, and co-emergence to a place of new possibilities. Although this move does not resolve the principles of differential relations of power (and this must continuously be considered), it nevertheless provides a space for moving forward outside of the pre-established discourses that these power principles dictate. 168 Now what we need to do, collaboratively, is focus on what we mean by "us". How do we find the separations in meaning as the language of "us" moves across contexts and places of power? How do we celebrate a meaning of "us" which gives voice to the victims of poverty and deficit discourse outside of that discourse, in a way that does not carry the voice of imperialism, so that the voice of the subaltern is clear and distinct from the voice that defines it? Is this possible? Is the voice of the victim not trans-voiced... possessing elements of the voice that defines it and which counters it. Isn't this the nature of hegemony? If this "us" is granted distinction, where then is the place for "us" in meaning - "all of us" - in terms of the joint responsibilities this necessitates and in which a collaborative transformative spirit inheres? To move to "a problem for us", is to play a game of separating out the voice of dominance ... to make "us" mean the community only, whilst to simultaneously incorporate the inclusive "us" as to take in the broader community and discourses of power, so as to hold these voices jointly to account, to counter the hegemony invested in the power imbalance between voices, and to establish a collaborative co-authored "us". M y mind moves back, in trying to understand who the "us" is, to ethnographic moments I jotted down in my field notes... but I needn't have written them down as they were indelibly printed on my psyche, in creation of a canvas of contradictions, mapped out in a montage of competing meanings... 169 I see the teachers in the small staff room at lunch break, chatting to each other and talking about teaching positions at other schools they saw advertised in the local education department gazette... talking about how hard it is to attain a post elsewhere, talking about the number of posts they have applied for, interspersed with discussions about domestic problems at home. I found it surprising that in all the time I was engaging in research at this school, I never saw the single photocopier ever used for photocopying notes, activities, worksheets, educational aids for the students... only teaching posts in the gazette by teachers for themselves, or for adrninistration purposes by the principal's secretary. Occasionally, I hear the teachers complaining about students. However, I never hear them talking about pedagogic issues or teaching approaches... activities that were very visible/ vocal in the staff room at the privileged independent school at which I researched. In the independent school, there was always a huddle of teachers having a meeting during short break or lunch hour about novel teaching ideas, lesson plans, themes, activities, new technological aids, personal successes in the classroom, relating pedagogic moments with enthusiastic students, and having excited conversations... A few of the women at Visserman's Baai Laer offer me a cup of tea in the staff room and stand up to prepare it. They find a spare broken cup in the sink. They hope I don't mind that there isn't any sugar left and I, of course, accept the tea graciously. A male member of staff offers me some of bis sandwich from his Tupperware lunch box and I return the favour by offering some of mine, in a similar Tupperware container... the same kind as the one I used to take to school as a school girl... They speak to me mostly in English and are very friendly, then they continue in Afrikaans and Xhosa with their conversations about other teaching posts... 170 I wonder where the "us" is in the community... It seems to me that there is no belonging place here in their hearts and personal motivations,... only an accepted communal frustration and a ever-present desire,... a patient waiting... to find the opportunity to extricate themselves from this local community and to divest themselves of their teaching commitment to this school that their lives are locked into. Some start to complain about the principal. The 'tea girl' enters and adds her piece to the 'skinner' (gossip) about the principal, using some colourful expletives in "Cape Coloured" dialect. The teachers, conscious of my stranger presence, laugh heartily and tell her, referring to me: "Nee, jy moet versigtig wees... sy ken Afrikaans."1 The 'tea girl' covers her mouth in embarrassment and apologizes to me for her language: "Askies, mevrou, ek het gedink dat jy Kanadees is!"JI laugh with them and reassure her: "Moenie worry nie .. .dis regtig niks nie. Ek belowe dat ek niks vir iemand sal se nie!" K and we all laugh together... and for that moment... it is all of us.... But later I hear again one of the teacher's I interviewed, Don, speaking about how other colleagues of his that are teaching at the school won't give any of their students a lift (ride) home to the township if they happen to pass them in their motorcars walking along the road. I think of the many times I did that very thing, offering lifts to these young people with their grateful, smiling faces. "Why?" I ask him. "They tell me that the children stink and they don't want them in their car." Where is the "us" now, I wonder? 1 No, you must be careful... she knows Afrikaans! J Excuse me, madam/ Mrs., I thought that you were Canadian! 171 Is this a community o f people sharing a common purpose, linked together in mutual support, language, values, empathy, culture, destiny... or is it another social construction o f what culture is . . . a socially engineered "us"? I hear Don's voice telling me as I give h im a lift to his home in another suburban 'coloured' township: "The other teachers, when I first came to this school, used to tell me that I must use the stick on my pupils, because that is the only way that you are going to gain control o f them... that is the only thing they know and understand... and, you know, I actually did at first. But soon I realized that it was wrong.. . It isn't right... I am supposed to be on their side and I must try and understand what it is like for them.. . A n d I realized, 'how can I go and hit a child that might have been raped by her drunken father last night... how can I do that?' A n d I realized that it is wrong and that I can't do that... I must rather w in them over, because, for some of them, I am the only person who w i l l listen and try to understand . . . and that they can talk to... and not abuse them. But most o f the other teachers, they still do that... they hit the kids. They know they can get into trouble from the department i f there is a complaint, but they still feel too threatened not to do it . . . But it is not for me." Where is the "us", I wonder again and again? I think about my attendance at paper presentations in international education conferences with well-known 'African American' educationalists speaking about race, culture, SES, and low achievement levels . . . most especially, of course, in mathematics. I think about one specific speaker who draws the relationship between " low achievement levels" for certain students with particular "demographics" 1 9 and how the "dominant culture o f the school does not approximate the K Don't worry.... It is really nothing. I promise I won't say anything to anyone. (I won't tell anyone about what was actually said.) 172 culture of black students i n the community". For this speaker, this is the primary "factor" i n why they don't achieve well . In her presentation, she talks about how the "ratio of the number of black teachers teaching black kids, is too low." I think o f this school, Visserman's Baai Laer, and the fact that all the teachers are "coloured" and black, teaching all "coloured" arid black students. From this point of view, there is nothing 'wrong' with 'ratios' here, (other than the fact that it represents merely the opposite... the legacy o f Apartheid and racially segregated schools... what is 'wrong' is that there are no other ethnic groups represented here... no indicators of a 'multicultural' schooling environment). But where is the sense of belonging? These teachers speak o f themselves as not belonging to the community, or that it is an unwanted or uncomfortable belonging. The majority, don't want to belong, it seems. So, where is the affinity, through "cultural approximation"? This is what Apartheid did. It said: "Each to his (sic) own!" This was supposed to preserve "cultural distinction" through "cultural proximity". But where is the "us" in this community of teachers and students? Is this not another example o f social constructions of ' race ' and 'culture', socially engineered to separate and render subordinate? Or is it that the weight of "poverty" overrides "cultural proximity", or that "cultural proximity" lies within the "poverty'? Are these teachers captives to the oppressive psychological states o f being within poverty? Are they themselves prison wardens sentenced to sentencing these children o f the community to eternal incarceration within the walls of personal and political disempowerment, ... these children that are criminalized by/ within "poverty"? Is it that the teachers, in their state o f de-motivation, wish to divest themselves of the quagmire of 173 hopelessness that the "poverty" o f this community represents, thereby inadvertently contributing to it in the very act of its rejection'? I cannot criticize these feelings. I remember from my youth, feelings of entrapment by oppressive, mundane contexts I was locked into, and the single driving motivation of trying to empower myself to overcome and extricate myself from them. I remember those feelings wel l ! Here, there cannot be any blame... I am in another place now.. . sitting around a table with university alumni, talking about the future prospects of my old alma mater. On the table are memorabilia . . . some key rings and badges. Inscribed on one of the key rings are the words: "Wor ld class African University". It carries an insider counter-hegemonic celebratory tone, but it also highlights an outsider globalizing discourse, a dominant/ imperialist gaze, that constructs this statement as an oxymoron. It is a voice that, in projecting outwards to the world, echoes back upon itself with external authorship. Nevertheless, it defines another version of "us", "us" as "African". . . a unified voice that transcends, as it embraces, 'race' and 'culture'. The alumni representative speaks an impeccable English, and there is no trace in his accent o f his South African "coloured" roots. He is talking about trying to find funding to 'import' "African scholars" from other African countries to try to address the existing mismatch in the ratio of "Afr ican" students to lecturers. "Most of our black students are still being taught by white professors. Although our numbers of black professors have increased somewhat in the last few years, the majority of them are still white. We want to import distinguished 174 scholars from other African countries, so that there is more cultural proximity... so that our students feel more represented culturally." I think of my experiences with teachers I interviewed at Vissermsan's Baai LaeT (Fisherman's Bay Elementary) and Visserman's Baai Hoer (Fisherman's Bay High), and I wonder about this idea of "cultural proximity", who defines the term, what is meant by 'culture' and what is meant by "us"? It is like the term "cultural relevance". I always want to ask.. .relevant to whom, why, whose 'relevance', whose 'culture'? I answer the alumni representative to the effect: " Y o u speak of 'cultural proximity', and I know that this is a concept which marks our bodies, but it is not only something which is mapped onto our skin. . . it is well beyond that, depending on what you mean by 'culture'. It is about our values, about what you mean by "African" and what you mean by "us" as South Africans. "Cultural proximity" is something that not only marks your physical body, but also calls on your history and experiences. It calls on your values, motivations and frames of reference. It marks your spirit far more!" He does not respond to my remark and I wonder i f he has simply read this as another 'white reaction'. A n d yet , . . . taking the debate a step further,... this is not to say that 'whiteness' is not problematic in dictating the cultural terms of context, just as Apartheid still inhabits many 'liberated' places of South Africa. But the solution does not lie in the myth of some mathematical equation that says that i f you make one side of the equation more 'black' and less 'white' , you w i l l achieve a 'balance'... the ultimate 'equality'. The complexity and specifics of context informs practices, rather than socially constructed, discursively bounded 'factors' that influence them. It seems to me that it is the elements of "poverty" 175 which hold subjects to conditions of hopelessness, and it is these contextually-prbduced conditions/ discourses/ practices that separate out the teachers from their students, 'the outsiders' from 'the community' at Visserman's Baai Laer, despite socially constructed, categorized "cultural proximity". Identity is socially constructed and informed by context. The self carries multiple identities that shift emphases across spatial/ temporal locations. Some identities of the self are fore-grounded in certain contexts, while others are back-grounded. Nevertheless, to transcend the dualisms of our language and the oppositions of identity that are established through language, we need to look at the language which defines, separates, limits, makes possible a concept of "us". How can we begin to move beyond paradoxes, contradictions, and dilemmas without a contextually transcendent concept of "us" that embodies, pedagogically, a collaborativeness, inclusivity and a humble/ humbling togetherness. With the hope of transcendence, I hear the words of Antjie Krog (2000), a well-known journalist who reported on South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings, in her struggle to find meaning ml through her own identities in performance; to come to terms with the past that created silences and evoked associated violence through socially constructed notions of 'identity'; through a re-earthing of re-imagined possibilities while simultaneously searching for the light within the day/ daily, and in finding presence in place; to 'source' beyond 'identity' to a 'resourcefulness' in an 'identifiableness',... in her search for a new "us": 1 7 6 The proceedings are concluded with the anthem. I stand, caught unaware by the Sesotho version and the knowledge that I am white, that I have to reacquaint myself with this land, that my language carries violence as a voice, that I can do nothing about it, that after so many years I still feel uneasy with what is mine, with what is me. The woman next to me looks surprised when I sing the Free State version o f "Nkosi ." She smiles, holds her head close to mine, and shifts to the alto part. The song leader opens the melody to us. The sopranos envelop; the bass voices support. A n d I wonder: God. Does He hear us? Does He know what our hearts are yearning for? That we all just want to be human - some with more color, some with less, but all with air and sun. A n d I wade into song - in a language that is not mine, in a tongue I do not know. It is fragrant inside the song, and among the keynotes of sorrow and suffering, there are soft silences where we who belong to this landscape, all o f us, can come to rest. Sometimes the times we live in overflow with light. (pp. 285-6; emphases inserted) L This refers to our national anthem - the national anthem of South Africa - "N'kosi Sikele Afrika" - meaning: "God Bless Africa". There is a moon within a half circle of light. Many choose not to see it. They look upon the soft smooth arc, the perfect curve, and see its boldness. But there are shadows between us, and a moon behind the arc we fear to see, for we have not yet learned the paths beyond the spaces we create, the contours of the unimagined. We look upon a mercuric sea, and lose the essence of the sky mapped on it, one for the other, one and the same, the watery image in whose face the sky is painted. And the moon, with its dappled light, splashed in gyroscopic patterns in rhythm to the motion of the sea, alluring, deep-spirited, it calls us to the dance. And what is our dance -this dance of our identity? A calling from without and within; our many other spirits play the music of our ancestry, and we follow searchingly for roots along our route. Lets listen to the music of our history, and let it flow to the rhythm of the dance! Let's not map it in unitary space, close its meaning in the language of our time! Listen to the calling! Feel the motion of the dance! Find its essence in the web of life, moving between, moving beyond, in the shadowy fullness of a new moon. Listen to the calling... listen to the dance! 179 ENDNOTES 1 Metissage: derived from the Latin mixticius, which means to braid together different fibres to create a single strand. Metissage, based on similar concepts of collage and montage, is a neolism that incorporates into its meaning(s), a re-appropriation of the Canadian word Metis, whose original derogatory meaning is 'half-breed'. My personal understanding of Metissage is that it is a methodological research and writing approach, as well as a creative strategy and pedagogical praxis, which infers a particular political stance that critically challenges certain assumptions pertaining to race, gender, language and other social constructions. I view it as displaying a particular sensitivity and focus on spirituality, person and place, with an emphasis on ways of being 'present' within a community. Through the 'mixing of blood', metissage braids together new understandings and possibilities of 'being' in respect of race, class, language, religion, culture, and geographical, political and philosophical location. It is beginning to be embraced within alternative research methodologies and is especially evidenced within some narrative, poetry and other aesthetic writing genres, and texts of an autobiographical or auto-ethnographic nature. Rita Irwin (2004) describes metissage in relation to the multiple and yet integrated roles of artist-researcher-teacher. She says: "They embrace a metissage existence that integrates knowing, doing and making, an existence that desires an aesthetic experience found in an elegance of flow between intellect, feeling and practice" (p. 28). For Irwin, embracing a move toward an integration of analytically different forms of thinking, which she refers to as theoria, praxis and poesis from Aristotelian philosophy of thought, the artist-researcher-teacher moves "to a more complex intertextuality and intratextuality of categories" (p. 27, emphasis inserted). For the artist-researcher-teacher, "there is a desire to explore new territory" that can be viewed as a "borderland of reformation and transformation, a geographical, spiritual, social, pedagogical, psychological and physical site intersubjectively and intrasubjectively situated in and through dialogue". In this way, Irwin reminds us that "metissage is usually recognized in hyphenated relationships" (p. 26). It is, perhaps, relevant to use the term metissage here, in the sense of the following storying being an active literary stance which seeks to merge different writing forms, infuse the personal into the political and the political into the personal, invite narrative voices and 'identities' that are rooted in many, often marginalized, places, and blur research and writing genres like the mixing of blood. The mixed and often contradictory 'identities' (or inter/intra/subjectivities) I carry into the 180 field and from which I approach my research writing, as 'white' Canadian academic and South African, or Canadian academic and 'white' South African, or as an 'African' living in Canada, amongst others, acts as a metissage which congeals and separates, shifts, sutures together, and reformulates itself constantly as I move across/through differing contextual perspectives and locations. This also incorporates 'identity' as contextually induced, as non-static and ever changing, as growing towards whilst simultaneously growing within.... a routedness in rootedness. It is a metissage of the 'self as constantly being 'mixed', re-imagined, re-configured, re-made, re/trans-formed ... or re-conceived. The use of metissage is also pertinent here, in the sense that the majority of the people in the community, in which this storying is immersed, is historically one that, in accordance with previous Apartheid categorizations, might be referred to as "Coloured", or "mixed race", or, by Canadian definitions "Metis". Further, my personal involvement with this community through the research process and past lived experiences within such communities, acts as a metissage in itself, in that it not only is a site, between different languages, races, classes and cultures, for writing, sense-making, survival and re-growth, but a place for the proverbial mixing of my own blood with the blood of shared experiences, forming dissonances and resonances as the experiences blend and blur identities and personal positions. The hybridity of shared experiences produces coagulations at times and thinning at others, but, through the strength of the nature of those experiences, marked by the contextual specificities of person and place, always forms new bloodl ... In this sense, metissage, as a creative and political device, challenges necrophilic pedagogies of oppression, and, by contrast, advocates for hope, possibility and new life! 2 Irwin (1998) draws on a theme of "rootedness in routedness" in aligning the search for cultural roots and personal identity with a journey of self-discovery in and through "cultural translation" with others. The relationship between '"rootedness" and "routedness" in seeking "roots/routes" towards "roots/routes", as I view it, is reciprocal, dialectical, integrated, emergent, relational, contingent and mutable... In fact, it is ever being re-imagined/co-imagined and re-created/co-created throughout the journeying process. As Irwin (1998) says: "In an era of post-modernism, what is needed is a shift of understanding toward the roots/routes of our cultural identities. We cannot have one without the other, nor would we want one without the other.... Our understanding of ourselves, our lives and our beliefs is rooted/routed in dialectical relationships" (p. 39). Irwin uses Clifford's (1997) notion of "traveling-in-dwelling and dwelling-in-travel" (p.29) to describe her own route towards her roots and through the sharing of cultural stories. It is these stories that hinge on a notion of "cultural translation." According to Irwin "Cultural 181 translations, even when a common language is shared, are still interpretations rooted and routed within personal experiences, histories and geographical locations," and "cultural translation is really about understanding our own lives in a fuller way" (p.31). As I view it, narrative is a place for the expression of this greater "fullness" and is at the nexus of culturally translatable experiences and continuous ways of 'becoming' in the world, rather than static states of 'being' or 'having become'. [See also personal narrative engaging with "cultural translation", through the metaphor of "pushing out the boundaries of lived experience beyond common understanding" (Swanson, 2001, p. 313)]. I have further extended the theme of "roots/routes" throughout this narrative to invoke, through double entendre and a play on words, in a variety of ways, the multiplicity of associated meanings of the terms "roots" and/or "routes", as well as their various synchronizations and syncopations with each other, to facilitate further interrelated research ideas and themes and assist in the development of my arguments. 3 Ubuntu is the African philosophy of humanism, linking the individual to the collective through 'brotherhood' or 'sisterhood'. It makes a fundamental contribution to indigenous African knowledge systems and underscores African 'ways of being'. It is commonly used, especially in Southern Africa, as a spiritual approach within socio-political contexts. Nobel Prize laureate, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who, in 1995, became the chairman to The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which was created by an Act of Parliament known as the National Unity and Reconciliation Act, was a strong advocate of the philosophy and spiritual power of ubuntu, in the recovery of "truth" through narratives of atrocities of the Apartheid era, as well as the more important and subsequent process of reconciliation, transcendence and healing which arises through the cathartic process of truth-telling. As I have grown to understand the concept growing up in South Africa, ubuntu is borne out of the philosophy that community strength comes of community support, and that dignity and identity is achieved through mutualism, empathy, generosity and community commitment. The adage that 'it takes a village to raise a child' is borne out of the philosophy of ubuntu. Just as Apartheid threatened to erode this traditional African way of being, so increasing urbanization and globalization, threatens to do the same. There is a consciousness and collective desire, through what is often referred to (most especially by our contemporary State President 182 Thabo Mbeki) as an African Renaissance, to attempt to reincorporate and strengthen ubuntu within an African post-colonial/post-Apartheid era. 4 I have, up front, described the demeanor of the female interviewee here, as I saw it, in terms of the ethos of the institutional context in which the student was a learner. From my perspective, I noted how the cultural ethos of the institution, physically and environmentally represented, pervaded the context of the interview, which took place in a classroom where a mathematics lesson was not in session, but had most recently been used as such. This highlights the most often unrecognized subjectivities of place, and the way in which physical location shapes the discursive and somatic nature of the interview context. [Hammersley and Atkinson (1997), on one level, provide some understanding of the importance of context in shaping research 'behaviours', by introducing Goffman's (1959) distinction between 'frontstage' and 'backstage' regions in terms of the settings for interviews and ethnographic research. Goffman usefully uses the metaphor of 'performance' to support this distinction in terms of the presence and absence of an audience and the putting in place or withdrawal of props and whole repertoires of actions of characters. Nevertheless, the attitudes of the naturalistic ethnographer become evident in Hammersley and Atkinson's purposeful separation of the concepts of 'context' from 'physical location' and their devaluing of the importance of physical settings in the construction of knowledge. They intimate that physical structures and settings 'do not determine behaviour in a direct fashion' (p.52), and that contextual variability is a function of social constructions and not physical locations.] [See also Fiske (1994) for discussion on 'audiencing'.] An interview can never have a 'neutral' context, and physical, temporal and social-relational locations as elements of context, are resources for the invocation of specific repertoires and positioning strategies. What is important, then, is to recognize the contextual elements in their potential for shaping discourse and to make them conspicuous, rather than to hide them in the interests of making the interview process appear seamless and objective. From my observations, the apparent 'resignation' and almost 'submissiveness' of this student being interviewed was noticeably distinct (from my podium of perspective) from the interviewing (and general) demeanour of students in the contrasting research context of the 'elitist' independent school. The elements of possibility realized in these contextual variations and the pervading ethos of each institution preceded my entry into the respective contexts and shaped the nature of that entry facilitated by the way the practice of interviewing is taken up or perceived within each respective context. The emphasis on seeing the process of interviewing as an extension of situated, local, pedagogical practices within this school is highlighted metaphorically by the notion of the 183 interview as "test". While part of the problem for this rests on my shoulders for not being able to invert the 'inevitableness' of this relationship and provide an interviewing situation which was more mutualistic and less 'evaluative' or 'voyeuristic', despite all my efforts to do so by trying to put the student at ease, be empathetic, conversational and personable, does testify to the overwhelming nature or embeddedness of this institutionalized context as a daily, lived, socialized reality - one which, in an interview in such a context, it is highly unlikely, in my opinion, that any alternative approach would have been able to override or undermine. In post-structuralist terms, the context evoked the recruitment of subject positions by which we (interviewer and interviewee) positioned ourselves in relation to each other, the discourses from the social domain, the elements (both physical and otherwise) of the context in which the interview took place and other available positions, and we played out these subjectivities in context. [This notion of 'playing out' subjectivities is a consummation of the evoking elements of context within the ambit of the social relations defining the context. Context is, therefore, a place (theoretical or physical) where positions are discursively (and somatically) established via a process of "interpellation" (Althusser, 1971). Althusser uses the metaphor of "hailing" someone in the street, to support his assertion that ideology constitutes individuals as subjects, and that individuals as "always-already subjects" are hailed or interpellated into another subjectivity within a specific evoking context (pp. 163/4).] Consequently, the institutional norms of pedagogy as 'surveillance' infused the interview shaping the relations as well as the nature of the discourse with little successful contestation of these norms in that context, other than through the analysis I have herein engaged. It is critical, nevertheless, to note here, that I am not trying to defer the ethical responsibility for contestation of unequal or coercive social relations, but am rather trying to illuminate the difficulties and inherent dilemmas in attempting to do so, when the very practice engaged in (in this case, the act of interviewing and the articulations through this practice of the unequal power relations it necessitates) is fundamentally undemocratic, exacerbated by the oppressive ethos of the broader institutional context of the specific school. It also testifies to the constraints, within 'context', of evoking spaces for change and resistance. Consequently, some contexts have greater possibility for 'allowing' a modicum of contestation and change, than do others. 'Context', therefore, can be delimiting or empowering to differing degrees and in different ways. And that it also has a temporal as well as spatial condition defined through discourse, these delimiting or evoking elements may vary with time, opening up possibilities for the future that might not otherwise have been possible in the past. Here, the concept of 'context' as 'kairos' would facilitate an understanding of context as having both spatial/situated and temporal/historical dimensions. 184 Context relies on a range of conceptual features, including social, cultural, political and historical spaces, settings, sites or locations and is invested in power and control [See Bernstein (2000) for discussion on context and specific definitions of'pedagogic contexts' and 'invoking contexts'. Bernstein sees meanings as inextricably linked and attributable to context: He says: "Code is a regulative principle, tacitly acquired, which selects and integrates relevant meanings, the form of their realisation and evoking contexts" (p. 109, emphasis in the original). See also Swanson (1998, 2000, in press a, in press b) for examples of recontextualisation of (school mathematics) practices across contexts.] The historical feature of context, kairos, is highly relevant to social change. Miller (1992) says: "As the principle of timing or opportunity in rhetoric, kairos calls attention to the nature of discourse as event rather than object, it shows us how discourse is related to a historical moment; it alerts us to the constantly changing quality of appropriateness." (p. 310) (emphases inserted). The metaphors of 'test' and 'scientific experiment', speak to the reciprocity between positivist scientific methods and pedagogies of domination and control, such as those in our history of 'state education' in South Africa that invested in doctrines of Apartheid ideology. Unfortunately, in very many instances, the institutionalized legacy (material and psycho-social) still remains, whilst the policies have changed. Consequently, the metaphors of 'scientific experiment' and 'interrogation' allude to that violent history, underscored by the reification of positivist scientific method, and assist in providing a further description of the dominant pedagogies inhabiting this institutionalized context, where the inmates of the institution are to be controlled and transformed into receiving and submissive objects - experiments of oppressive pedagogies. 5 This subtle, but noticeable, air of 'resignation', 'acceptance' or demure demeanour of the interviewee, as I view it, belongs, in my opinion, to the pedagogy of oppression in that it acts as the affective object of control and repression of the creative desires of the oppressed. It appears to me, from my perspective, as an inhabitation of the mind of the victim of oppression, engendering deathliness in its power to dehumanize. Paulo Freire (1999) refers to this as a phenomenon of 'banking education', where the pedagogies of oppression are informed by transmission texts, domination and the victim's sublimation of their creativity, desire for life, and critical thinking. Freire (1999) says: "Oppression - overwhelming control - is necrophilic; it is nourished by love of death, not life. The banking concept of education, which serves the interests of oppression, is also necrophilic. Based on a mechanistic, static, naturalistic, spatialized view of consciousness, it transforms students into receiving objects. It attempts to control thinking and action, leads women and men to adjust to the world, and inhibits their creative power" (p.58). The interview in this 185 context was subsumed within the broader context of oppression, ... like a contextual repressive web ... and in my mind, the interview became, (to some, albeit small, degree), an e