Show Less
Restricted access

Shifting the Kaleidoscope

Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Educators’ Insights on Culture Shock, Identity and Pedagogy


Jon L. Smythe

This book examines culture shock and reverse culture shock as valuable learning experiences for educators working in increasingly culturally diverse environments. Although these phenomena are often cast as illnesses to be avoided, this study suggests that both types of shock can help educators develop greater self-understanding and intercultural awareness and will benefit their pedagogical practices as well. For this study, four returned Peace Corps volunteer educators who have taught at various grade levels, both abroad and in the United States, share thought-provoking stories of how their experiences shifted their identities and their approaches to teaching. A Post-structural hermeneutic framework is used to analyze each story in two separate «readings» as a way of disrupting the flow of each text so that other possible meanings may emerge. The metaphor of the kaleidoscope develops from the study as a way to imagine a curriculum in motion – one in which new and often surprising patterns are created by shifting, juxtaposing and refocusing the multiple lenses within. Shifting the Kaleidoscope should appeal to those readers who are interested in curriculum studies, multicultural education, intercultural awareness, narrative inquiry, post-structuralism, international studies, the Peace Corps and/or teaching English abroad.
Show Summary Details
Restricted access

Chapter 4: Toward a Pedagogy of Social Justice


· 4 ·



Ryder, a 46-year-old white male, was an assistant professor of English at a Midwestern university at the time I conducted his interviews. For his Peace Corps service Ryder taught English in forms 1–4 (basically ninth–12th grade) at a rural boarding secondary school in Kenya from 1987 to 1990. He also stayed on in Kenya an additional year and taught on his own. Later, after returning to the U.S. and completing a master’s degree, he taught English in a college preparatory program for a large oil company in Saudi Arabia for approximately 6 years. Although his teaching in Saudi Arabia was unrelated to the Peace Corps, we talked about some of those experiences and I have included references to his experiences teaching there in this study.

I met Ryder in his university office, which was small and sparsely decorated except for a few bookshelves filled to capacity, a few older-looking rolling chairs that squeaked loudly every time we shifted our weight in them, and a handful of gifts from students and colleagues. For example, there was a braided ornament from a Chinese student, a small paper bag decorated with a face so it could be used as a hand puppet, which was a gift from an American student at Halloween, and an international-looking letter holder given to him ← 119 | 120 → by a world-travelling colleague. There was also a “jumbo-sized” pink eraser still in...

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.

Do you have any questions? Contact us.

Or login to access all content.