Between Middle East & West : exploring the experience of a Palestian-Canadian teacher through narrative inquiry

This dissertation explores the life and work of a philosophy of education and multicultural education teacher, through the use of narrative inquiry. As a Palestinian/Lebanese Canadian researcher, teacher, mother, activist and writer, I present the journey of freeing myself from colonial grand narratives through the construction of my personal, practical knowledge and values, while providing an answer to the question: “What does it mean to be situated on the boundary between the English West and the Middle Eastern Arab world?” I demonstrate how the Orientalist tradition, as defined by Edward Said (1978), served to confuse, frustrate, and alienate me as an embodied person situated within a web of historical, ethnic, linguistic, social, and cultural tensions. I describe how, having been educated in an English missionary school in the context of a Palestinian culture of dispossession and Diaspora, this education served to paradoxically both estrange and enrich me. I demonstrate how narrative inquiry, modeled after Clandinin and Connelly (1995, 2000), has enabled me to understand and communicate who I really am as an educator in the multiple social contexts I have known. Through story-ing my epistemology, I illustrate how the Canon in philosophy and the grand meta-narratives underpinning it served to oppress and alienate me over the years. I emphasize that education is not value-neutral. My autobiographical writing in this dissertation explores how the constructs of ethnicity, gender, religion, culture, language, and class serve to shape thinking and values. [...]
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