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Learning to be a culturally responsive teacher through international study trips : transformation or tourism?

Santoro, Ninetta and Major, Jae (2012) Learning to be a culturally responsive teacher through international study trips : transformation or tourism? Teaching Education, 23 (3). pp. 309-322. ISSN 1047-6210

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Recent rapid changes in the ethnic and cultural make-up of school communities have highlighted the need for teacher education to prepare teachers for culturally diverse contexts. International study trips provide direct experience and interaction with culturally diverse "others" as a way to extend pre-service teachers' understandings of difference and diversity. This paper presents findings from a qualitative study that investigated the experiences of 15 Australian pre-service teachers who attended a short-term study programme in either Korea or India. Drawing on notions of the "comfort zone" and "pedagogies of discomfort", we discuss how the pre-service teachers were challenged to move beyond their comfort zone into new and unfamiliar territory, and into states of dissonance and discomfort. Three interrelated themes emerged from the interview data: (1) dissonance resulting from physical discomfort; (2) dissonance resulting from culturally different communication styles and expectations about appropriate behaviour and interaction and (3) dissonance resulting from incidents/events that challenged the pre-service teachers' views of themselves and their own cultures. We suggest that many of the participants experienced levels of discomfort and dissonance that hindered effective learning, and limited the transformative potential of the experience. We conclude by discussing some implications for international experience programmes in teacher education. (Contains 1 table and 1 note.)