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UBC Theses and Dissertations

On the way home from school : a narrative inquiry into my lived experience as teacher Holmes, Patricia Leah


There is a tension in the warp and weft of fabric woven from the stories shaping a teacher’s lived experience. The story of how I, as researcher, learn to recognize that tension and then accept settling into a location of resistance to dichotomous socially constructed frameworks for learning and teaching is the research path taken in this paper. Within the context of poststructuralism, bricolage and autoethnography, my lived experience as a teacher conducting classroom action research becomes a living inquiry exploring power relations, voice, and subjectivities in a narrative text that performs the complexities of the journey through the juxtaposition of voices, texts, and images. Central to the journey’s narrative is how I grapple with failure as a construct within education, as the original research plan grinds to a halt due to technological constraints, an ensuing strike, and the arrival of a new student needing extensive individual support. Certain questions are evoked that speak to the lived experience of the teacher in context. How is failure measured? What might be necessary to reveal success? How are success and failure determined? Who determines them? What are the cultural meta-narratives that guide our construction of a dichotomy that emphasizes incremental categorizations and measures? What possible other, immeasurable learning might take place? How does arts-based learning and teaching enter into this world? How do we value that? Those questions are dramatized in the narrative of the main characters’ reactions to events unfolding, and in another narrative voice that explores, in arts-based research, "who teachers are these days" and the nature of teaching itself, expressed as poetry, recipes and images grounded in my own lived experience as teacher. Focussing on the dynamic found in the tension of the tragic narrative trope to navigate a path toward hope and light, I, as researcher, write and cook my way into knowing my identity as a teacher who will return to the field of teaching, beyond the gridlock of dichotomy. This reflective journey of narrative inquiry has provided the possibility for me to live and teach settled in an unsettling location, where tensions and confusions are moments for creative contemplation.

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