Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format

Integrated Article


Doctor of Philosophy




Dr. Paul Tarc


The contemporary conditions of the world are largely defined by global interconnectivity, heightened mobilities and super-diversity. Teachers and students are increasingly immersed in these conditions that prompt the heightened calls for internationalization of curricula and culturally relevant and inclusive school pedagogies. Teachers are also mobile, taking on positions beyond their local educational jurisdiction, where they must learn to navigate the intercultural and/or transnational conditions of unfamiliar locales and school communities. In turn, teacher education must respond by preparing teachers for both the super-diversity they may encounter in ‘local’ schools as well as for teaching ‘beyond their local.’ To better understand the kind of ‘cosmopolitan’ teacher, teaching and teacher education that current conditions demand, this thesis presents three studies in Chapters two to four.

Chapter two examines First Nations and Settler teachers’ intercultural relations in a northern Canadian community. Findings show that, under heightened interculturality, Settler teachers contend with tensions between their own and the local community’s experiences and perceptions of education. By critically reflecting on their intercultural experiences and notions of schooling they bring into the North, Settler teachers might better read, respond to and learn from their new, culturally-diverse and historically-fraught teaching contexts.

Chapter three examines the experiences of three novice teachers from Canada beginning their careers in overseas international schools. As a sensitivity that teachers both bring and develop in international schools, some elements of international mindedness (IM) were found to be more readily appreciated and practiced. These teachers might have also benefitted from greater critical reflexivity in understanding their socio-cultural positioning within their international teaching contexts.

Chapter four frames internationalizing teacher education (ITE) as ideally preparing preservice teacher candidates to be ‘cosmopolitan teachers’. The notion of cosmopolitan teacher is grounded in a review of the emerging ITE literature and in one novel empirical exemplar of ITE. In the empirical ITE case examined, curricular objectives were found to closely align with Rizvi’s (2009) articulation of cosmopolitan learning. Although overlapping with representations in the ITE literature, cosmopolitan learning particularly focuses on preservice teacher candidates’ capacities to reflexively and relationally locate their perspectives viz a vis alternative socio-cultural perspectives and power relations constituted by wider geopolitical and historical forces.

The front matter includes an introduction, the methodology and theoretical framework. The final chapter presents a reflection on my PhD experience and contributions and tensions of my study.

Summary for Lay Audience

Regardless of location, teachers’ day-to-day is marked by the convergence of people from incredibly diverse backgrounds. They contend with misunderstandings and conflicting priorities between cultures. And, they are called to be inclusive across multiple levels of difference. Openness and adaptability are needed and understanding their own positioning in regard to larger forces and histories (i.e. residential schools, hegemony of English) becomes crucial, as they work with students and other teachers from different countries with different relationships to schooling. And, in foreign contexts, they also have to navigate new living conditions. Coping with these challenges, amongst many others, is becoming a fundamental expectation for good teaching and a basic requirement in teacher education.

To better understand the kind of teacher these conditions demand, this thesis presents three studies exploring the experiences of teachers and teacher educators working in and across culturally diverse contexts. The front matter includes an introduction, the methodology and theoretical framework. The final chapter presents a reflection on my PhD experience and contributions and tensions of my work.

The first study examines the growing diversity in a northern Canadian First Nations (FN) community. Evidence shows that teachers struggle with attitudes and perceptions towards education that differ from their own. By questioning their own assumptions about education, teachers might better respond to those divergent views and better understand cultural difference.

The second study follows three beginning teachers beginning in international schools abroad. Some sensitivities that help teachers cope with the cultural diversity of international schools were found to be more readily appreciated and practiced while others require greater awareness and effort to attain. Questioning how one is situated in the world deepens these sensitivities.

Chapter four is grounded in a review of the emerging International Teacher Education (ITE) literature and one innovative example of an ITE program preparing novice teachers to respond to contemporary conditions and learn from cultural diversity. Findings suggest ITE can support the learning of dispositions essential for ethical engagements under such conditions and capacities to more openly engage and learn from cultural diversity – dispositions and capacities fully realized in the context of teaching.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.