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ERIC Number: ED524472
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Jul
Pages: 18
Abstractor: As Provided
Beyond the Abaya: School Reform in the Middle East
Albon, Nerissa
Australian Teacher Education Association, Paper presented at the Annual Conference of the Australian Teacher Education Association (ATEA) (Albury, Jun 28-Jul 1, 2009)
This autoethnography focuses on a study undertaken during the writers 15 month employment in a Muslim girls' school in the United Arab Emirates. The paper outlines a school improvement project in the Abu Dhabi Emirate and the imposition of an Australian curriculum on the schools involved in this program. The teachers in these schools were exposed to regular professional development sessions as part of an informal teacher education program. While most of the teachers had a degree related to their teaching specialism they lacked any formal teaching qualifications. The professional development the teachers were required to undertake in the schools added to their daily teaching load and did not involve credit towards a degree. School improvement strategies currently in use in Australian state education systems will be discussed in light of their recent implementation in the United Arab Emirates. In discussing the issues that schools faced implementing a new curriculum, teaching approaches, and associated school improvement strategies, it is important that the cultural context of the community and the school be explored with reference to the impact of these proposed changes in many schools across Abu Dhabi. Implementing a new curriculum and encouraging teachers to involve the students in more active learning challenged local teachers' notions of teaching and of how students learn. An outline of my reasons for undertaking an autoethnography will be provided including the problematic nature of "cultural difference" where a western researcher is working with and observing teachers in a Muslim context. As Rosaldo (1993:202) suggests "Although the notion of "difference" has the advantage of making culture particularly visible to outsiders, it poses a problem because such differences are not absolute. They are relative to the cultural practices of ethnographers and their readers." On-going discussions related to the western notion of school reform implementation in the Middle East continues to raise issues related to culture and long standing teaching practices that are now being challenged by those who have come from communities and cultures that have very different borders, boundaries and contexts. (Contains 1 figure.)
Australian Teacher Education Association. e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Descriptive; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Australian Teacher Education Association (ATEA)
Identifiers - Location: Australia; United Arab Emirates (Abu Dhabi)