Within and between the old and the new: teachers becoming inclusive practitioners
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This paper explores how 20 African teachers in rural KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, construct their identities in the light of inclusive education, and how they negotiate the tensions and contradictions emerging from the process of becoming inclusive practitioners. Central to this discussion is the understanding that teachers’ identities are socially constructed and that radical transformation requires teachers to draw on their transformative capacity and develop an alternative sense of themselves, not only as teachers but also as individuals. A qualitative approach using personal narratives is used to better comprehend the context-specific experiences of these teachers and draw on their authentic voices. What emerges from the study is evidence of the simultaneous existence of both the powerful influence of historic roots of exclusion, which discourage teachers from becoming inclusive practitioners, and some fruits of inclusion, where teachers’ attitudes and practices are beginning to embrace inclusion. Findings clearly show a lack of homogeneity in participants’ responses to inclusion, highlighting instead the diversity which exists within and between individual African teachers in rural contexts.