Becoming ajarn: A narrative inquiry into stories of teaching and living abroad




Ferguson, Matthew Robert

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This M.A. thesis is a narrative inquiry into a westerner’s personal stories of teaching and living in Thailand. It narrates the experiences of becoming an ajarn (a teacher), but moreover an ajarn farang (a white teacher) in a Thai university. As International Education programs are largely supplemented with western-developed curricula and teachers, what are the implications for a western teacher when material and pedagogy fails in a new cultural situation? How can a teacher reconcile feelings of power (as a perceived education authority) and powerlessness (as a cultural foreigner)? This narrative inquiry explores the role of story to make meaning out of otherwise uncertain situations. The stories are about experiences deemed emblematic of tensions and ideas employed by multiculturalism, postcolonialism, phenomenology, and transformative education. These discussions aim to expose and exploit borders of experience that exist for reasons of culture, colonialism, location, and race. The transformative exercise of exploring spaces between borders recognizes that people are characters inside one another’s stories, which thereby expands boundaries of identity to anticipate and embrace moments of uncertainty that can inspire innovative pedagogy because of cultural difference, and not in spite of it.



Narrative Inquiry, International Education, Multiculturalism, Postcolonialism, Identity, Transformative Education