Teachers teaching in adversarial conditions : a narrative inquiry.
Varathaiah, Moses Krishnamurthi.
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This study explores the concepts of adversity, the facets of adversity and the nature of adversity and how teachers cope under these adversarial conditions. Adversity is a phenomenon that is challenging to grasp yet it affects people daily. In this study, “those people” are the teachers whom I have engaged with. Adversity comes in different forms and under different circumstances and is very much a part of every persons life. These forms include physical structures, emotional inter-relationships and social interaction with teachers, learners and the community. Adversity in the context of this study means to have a great measure of misfortune, hardships, difficulty, danger, harsh conditions and hard times as these have negative connotations to it. The participants in this study share, impart, reveal and disclose both their personal experiences at home, with their families and professional experiences at school with the main stakeholders being the learners. The professional experience of adversity includes teacher intensification, for example, more administrative work, large class sizes, teaching second and third language learners, lack of promotion opportunities, educators with HIV/ AIDS, lack of educational resources such as computers and overhead projectors, changing curriculum, multicultural educational challenges, more meetings during school time and school fund raising. Educators salaries and their qualifications were another issue that needed to be addressed. Teachers reflect on their efforts to pursue tertiary studies, the cost they have incurred and the sacrifices they have made to achieve their diplomas and degrees. With this in mind teachers find that the remuneration they receive for the sacrifices they have made certainly do not match the efforts of their endeavors. Years of studying and the intellectual capacity needed to acquire a teaching diploma and degree remain unrewarded. Teachers continue to compare the salaries of employees in the private sector to those of the public sector. Teaching therefore, seems to more of a service than that of a ‘job’. The financial rewards for teachers continue to allude them. The state does not provide sufficient incentives for teachers to remain in the profession. Therefore, many teachers look for ‘greener pastures’ .Teachers find employment outside the teaching profession in the private sector or even x emigrate to cities like London to seek better financial rewards. Teachers acknowledge that to teach, one requires passion and dedication and zeal for it. This study concentrates on how teachers cope, manage, handle and deal with such conditions in the school setting. These conditions include high volumes of administration, learner apathy, miscommunication with senior management and the employer, handling difficult learners and parents and coping with limited resources. This study reveals how teachers survive these difficult conditions. It further explores the reasons and factors that motivate these teachers to continue teaching.