Biology teachers' lived experiences in place




Nishizawa, Tomo

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A phenomenological inquiry of five place-aware biology teachers was conducted to determine how teachers’ lived experiences in place influence their pedagogy, if at all. High school biology teachers from one public and private school in Victoria, British Columbia were recruited through volunteer sampling. Through in-depth interviews, journal writings and artefacts representative of lived experiences of place, teachers were invited to share their lived experience narratives of places of meaning and teaching experiences of place. Drawing on Merleau-Ponty’s embodiment phenomenology, a case-by-case thematic analysis was first conducted per informant, followed by analyses of commonalities across informants as appropriate. It was found that teachers shared similar experiences in different places of meaning: a sense of mystery that there is always something to be revealed, an experience of the vastness and complexity of places, a sense of care for nature as the Other and a feeling of fondness for places as shared through close family and community members. However, the degree and manner in which such experiences transferred into teachers’ pedagogies differed, as some teachers demonstrated a stronger intentionality of place-consciousness than others. The study highlights the humanness of teachers and the unique styles that individual teachers bring into their practices. I suggest that the complex and multidimensional notion of places as revealed through the study opens possibilities for holistic approaches in science education, with a focus on embodied, caring consciousness for the places that we inhabit.



Science teacher education, Teacher identity, Place, Phenomenology, Environmental ethics, Caring