Discourses of incapacity and emancipation: an autoethnographic study of CPD courses delivered by Western educators in a Ugandan context
This thesis examines the complex nature of teacher-led professional development delivered by Western teachers in a Non-Western context. I use an autoethnographic approach and employ a range of reflective and reflexive methods, such as visual images, journals, interviews and sketches to expose and explore the tensions experienced when engaging with CPD in a culture vastly different to my own and within a post-colonial context.
This thesis employs theories from Homi Bhabha to explore the key concepts of post-colonialism and decolonisation, Zygmunt Bauman to examine the concepts of community and identity, and Jacques Rancière and Etienne Wenger to explore theories of education and learning such as stultification and emancipation and communities of practice, all of which are pivotal in understanding the complexities and tensions of experience throughout this research.
I scrutinise moments of dis-ease, a term borrowed from Sweetman (2003, p.528), whereby the programme appears rooted in a form of neo-colonialism fuelled by globalised models of education that reinforces little more than a discourse of incapacity and a reiteration of a single story of African Otherness. Conversely, I also observe moments where there emerges a community of practice that offers an emancipatory model of education and offers participants the opportunity to reinscribe their identities as part of a global community.
I conclude that programmes such as this have the potential to be both positive and negative and that, unlike examples of voluntourism in which the participants serve to create and perpetuate deficit-models of colonialist thinking, there is a need to accept that participants engaging in professional discourse have the capacity to review and decide whether the positive impacts are valid and valued enough to make their pursuit worthwhile. It is critical to resist the urge to make a sweeping generalisation about CPD programmes in vastly different cultural contexts because too many variables exist to make such a broad stroke accurate, but there must be an onus on all involved to evaluate the ramifications of participation and to continue or desist in these programmes as is appropriate.