A labyrinth of teacher narratives : subjectivities and emotionality in HIV and AIDS teaching.
Naidoo, Jaqueline Theresa.
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This study explores how subjectivities and emotionality of teachers are inextricably linked with their teaching praxis in the spaces of the HIV and AIDS classroom. A post-structuralist perspective and narrative approach are adopted. The landscape of HIV and AIDS education forms the backdrop or overarching rationale for this study. Despite conflicting debates around the role of teachers and schools in HIV and AIDS education, this study aimed to explore the complexities and challenges facing teachers in mitigating HIV and AIDS education. The broad question this study aimed to explore is: How do teachers’ life experiences, subjectivities and emotionality influence their teaching about HIV and AIDS education? Data was gathered from timelines, semi-structured interviews, classroom observations, scenario analysis and critical lessons from five teachers. A purposeful sample of five teachers, who volunteered and were teaching HIV and AIDS education, was selected from three primary schools in a Midlands town in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. The contexts of the schools ranged from rural, semi-rural to urban. Foucauldian concepts of technologies of power/knowledge, technologies of the self and ethics of care were employed to analyse teachers’ subjectivities. Hargreaves theory of the emotional practice of teaching and Zembylas’s genealogies of emotions served as the analytical framework to make sense of emotionality of teachers. The co-constructed narratives of teachers were analysed using holistic content narrative analysis which uncovered seven clusters of meaning: diverse lives, multiple subjectivities; subjectivities and teaching; HIV and AIDS knowledge and teaching; spatial dynamics; relationships; emotions and feelings and cultural complexities. A key insight of this study is that teachers constituted multiple, dynamic and conflicting subjectivities. ‘Compassionate’, ‘supportive’ and ‘knowledgeable’ subjectivities were identified. Teachers enacted these multiple subjectivities drawing on their personal and professional experiences, HIV and AIDS knowledge and community and department of education support. Significantly, teachers resisted tensions and negotiated conflicting subjectivities to create critical reflective or labyrinthine spaces within their classrooms. I argue that spatial dynamics and teachers’ spatial praxis emphasise how power, HIV and AIDS knowledge, subjectivities and space are inextricably linked. Further analysis of teachers’ narratives highlighted discourses of responsibility, expertise, collaboration and sexuality. Most importantly, this study emphasises the complex and critical role of teachers in mediating HIV and AIDS education. A further insight is that teachers experience both positive and negative emotions when teaching about HIV and AIDS education, highlighting teaching as an emotional practice. Patterns of closeness in socio-cultural, moral and political emotional geographies and patterns of distance in professional and physical emotional geographies were displayed in teachers’ relationships. I argue that teachers negotiate their emotions and subjectivities when teaching about HIV and AIDS drawing on technologies of emotion. Of significance, cultural and religious myths as well as stigma and discrimination presented major challenges which teachers had to address. Key findings were categorised as: conflicting subjectivities and resistance; spatial praxis in labyrinthine spaces; technologies of emotion and demystifying cultural and religious myths.The implications of these findings are crucial for policy makers, teacher educators and teachers when implementing curricular and pedagogic changes in the complex spaces of the HIV and AIDS classroom.