Teachers' stories of environmental education: Blurred boundaries of professionalism, identity and curriculum

This paper discusses the use of narrative inquiry to contribute to ways of valuing and utilising teachers’ personal narratives as tools for understanding their thinking and knowing in relation to the environment and environmental education, and for critically examining and challenging dominant narratives and discourses of education and the environment in school education. By using my own Ph.D study as case in point, it presents ways in which teachers’ stories as the main focus of inquiry and data are developed, by developing narrative-discursive approaches that locate teacher narratives alongside other narratives of teachers as a research strategy for the aim of to elucidating the meanings of personal narratives as ‘small’ stories and explore their role in critiquing surrounding, ‘larger’ institutional and cultural narratives, including hero and exemplary teacher discourses, by opening up discursive spaces for alternative meanings of professionalism and curriculum.

Based on life-historical and focus group interviews with eleven secondary school teachers in Korea, the inquiry also develops novel ways of understanding and analysing teacher narratives about environmental education, in three parts: plots of personal narratives, professional identity constructions, and curriculum repertoires. The narrative analysis that develops a critical investigation into discursive practices of environmental education in schools leads to the conclusion that teacher narratives can be used and developed in ways that illustrate the blurring of boundaries in professionalism and curriculum, through which the teachers’ environmental education can create cracks and ruptures in school education.