Being an art teacher : "an auto-ethnographic study of different educational moments in my life"
MetadataShow full item record
This auto-ethnographic research emerges from an historical account of my self-understandings, perceptions and intentions, constructed from a journal that was kept of my experiences during the various stages of my development as an art teacher. The study revolves around two pivotal questions: ―How have I come to be the art teacher I am?‖ and ―What are the meanings and definitions that have informed my identity as an art teacher in a multiracial classroom?‖ I draw upon Brian Fay‘s theory of self/false consciousness and show how false consciousness works to liberate the self. It does that through the excavation of different layers of consciousness of self, and offers an understanding of how I came to be and to act in particular situations and moments of crisis. This theoretical position enabled me to understand my struggles as a black, African, male art teacher teaching in a multiracial school. By engaging in an auto-ethnographic approach I am able to reflect on the self through my journals and artworks (paintings, pottery, photographs and poems) and on the impact of critical moments in my life. It provides me with the lens to zoom in and out of my life experiences and understand the meanings (false/borrowed/assimilated) that I took up as a marginalised black African male interested in learning art in a white-dominated world. By adopting a critical stance, this research reveals both personal issues and broader social structures, institutions and processes, and shows how they are intertwined. Firstly, the study offers an analysis of chosen critical moments of my life. Secondly, it presents an understanding of those moments and my part in them. Thirdly, it explores the meanings that I came to adopt in those moments of crisis. Fourthly, it reflects on how this self-searching assisted me to liberate myself from false consciousness as a black African male art teacher. It tries to trace the gradual movement from the prison of my past to my development as a teacher in a South African classroom in a new democratic dispensation. Auto-ethnography provides deeper access to self-understanding, and engaging through this reflective process, I was able to understand and know that educational change can only happen meaningfully if I know and confront my personal and professional meanings and how they have been shaped and continue to inform the choices I make in my classroom daily. As a Black, African, Male, Art Teacher who learnt and lived through the legacy of apartheid, false consciousness was a way of being ‗other‘. The realisation of being ―a coconut‖ (Ferguson: 2006) and the meanings of the art world that went with it, proved liberating. ―Coconut‖ is term referring to a black person who does and acts like a white person.