Narratives of self-directed professional development : practices, learning and change of teachers in South African schools.
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This research study is an exploration of the self-directed professional development of teachers, teaching in public schools in an era of democracy and educational change in South Africa. Amidst an ever-changing educational system, these teachers - Mbeje, Shabeer, Carolina, Shakila and Tasneem - position themselves as self-directed teacher-learners. As self-directed teacher-learners they adopt particular learning practices which enable change within the broader discourses of public schooling. Life-story interviews were used to enter into the public and private spaces of these five teachers which offered me glimpses of how particular systems shaped their identities, and how the meanings of teacher-learner shaped their learning practices. I employed the thematic restorying approach to represent the narratives. Through collaboration with the teachers in this study, I identified critical moments in their lives which shaped their self-directed learning for change within the broader discourses of public schooling. The reconstructed narratives are located within the social, political and educational systems of apartheid and post-apartheid South Africa Positioning this study in the critical paradigm, I developed a multi-layered framework of analysis and interpretation. I offer my interpretations of the stories through three lenses: restorying the field texts - the self through story; the teacher-learner in relation to socio-cultural contexts, and practices of self-directed learning. This study shows that as teacher-learners learn for change through self-directed learning , they develop their agency as transformative intellectuals, which is necessary for the reworking of South African public schools. Self-directed learning is critical for the transformation of the teacher-learner: as their race, class and gender meanings are disrupted for new meanings of teacher- learner. In their becoming they consciously and subconsciously create a “new professional teacher-learner” for South African public schooling.