UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Being in grief : a teacher’s autobiographical exploration of pedagogy in postcolonial India Khanna, Reetika


In this thesis, grief is explored as a way of being in teaching. Drawing on Heidegger’s concept of Dasein, meaning presence or human existence, and informed by the autobiographical approach of currere, the author explores grief as an intergenerational phenomenon that occurs as a result of traumatic historical events (Partition 1947), profound personal loss (death of close family members), and the dehumanizing impact of postcolonial education in India. By relating and reflecting on stories from lived experiences, the author illustrates the ways in which the entanglements of family grief and national history can impact a child’s educational experience and a teacher’s practice. Through memory work, grief reveals itself as burdensome, a weight to be carried; practice is revealed as a site and source of grief. Invoking curriculum as ‘a complicated conversation,’ the study contends that being in grief is a reality to be embraced and discussed because of its impact on educational relationships. The significance of the thesis lies in acknowledging the intersection of the personal and the professional dimensions of teachers’ lives and the manner in which the associated emotions of grief and loss—shame, guilt, numbness, vulnerability, fear, and denial—are lived and worked out in and through pedagogy.

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