Teachers' Emotional Experiences of Growing Diversity and Multiculturalism in Schools and the Prospects of an Ethic of Discomfort

Nov. 10, 2010

Source: Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice, Volume 16, Issue 6, 2010, p. 703 - 716

The current paper analyzes the ways in which emotions are constituted and mobilized by teachers to respond to growing diversity and multiculturalism in schools.

The analysis is based on a two-year ethnographic study conducted in three Greek-Cypriot primary schools that are 'multicultural'.

The following focus questions are addressed:
(1) How do teachers' emotional experiences of growing diversity and multiculturalism in schools form particular economies of effect?; and
(2) What is the nature of these economies of affect and in what ways is it possible to form an ethic of discomfort as a space for constructive transformations in multicultural schools?

The results of this study show that teachers experience intense emotional ambivalence in their efforts to cope with growing diversity and multiculturalism in schools.
It is argued, however, that the capabilities of teachers to cope with growing diversity and multiculturalism are enhanced, if an ethic of discomfort is constituted in multicultural schools.

The implications of this study suggest that constituting an ethic of discomfort offers opportunities to challenge structures of power, privilege, racism, and oppression.

Updated: Jul. 05, 2011