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Images of the 'other' : an analysis of promotional material for study trips abroad for teacher education students.

Santoro, Ninetta (2014) Images of the 'other' : an analysis of promotional material for study trips abroad for teacher education students. In: Association for Teacher Education in Europe, 2014-08-25 - 2014-08-27, University of Minho.

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Abstract

Increasingly, in many parts of the world, classrooms are characterised by cultural and linguistic diversity. Understanding different cultural perspectives is essential if teachers are to develop culturally responsive pedagogies that address the needs of all students.. One way to increase teachers' intercultural competence is to offer student-teachers opportunities to live and study abroad. Programmes such as ERASMUS or short term, non-credit bearing options, potentially offer students-teachers opportunities to learn about the world beyond their local context, and to develop greater understandings of ways of being and doing that are different from those into which they were socialised. In this paper I report the findings of a project that collected and analysed a range of promotional materials for international study programmes offered to teacher education students. I use critical discourse analysis techniques to examine promotional flyers and websites in a range of universities in the UK. The project aimed to identify how social identities and relationships are constructed in these particular texts and images, and to investigate not only what is made explicit through the repetition of images and phrases, contradictory statements, and declared positions, but what is left out, silenced or only implied. I interrogate the data using the following specific questions: • How are experiences in 'developing' and high income countries promoted as valuable to student-teachers' development as culturally responsive teachers? • How are particular educational systems portrayed in a variety of 'developing' and high income countries? • How are particular cultures constructed? Findings suggest that 'developing' countries and high income countries are constructed in the promotional materials as binary opposites in terms of their value to student teachers' learning. The cultures of 'developing' countries are constructed as 'exotic', unsafe (but interesting) and offer opportunities for student-teachers to pass on their knowledge about teaching. On the other hand, high income countries are portrayed as safe, familiar and offer opportunities to learn about teaching. I suggest that these promotional materials potentially contribute to the student-teachers taking up post-colonial and neo-colonial attitudes about the cultures and education systems of 'developing' countries. They are therefore, counterproductive to the aims of international experiences. The paper concludes with recommendations for practice and teacher education curriculum.