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The Complexity and Fear of Teaching the “Other”: The Role of Teachers in a Larger Process of Social Cohesion and Peace


Sreemali M. Herath

Open University of Sri Lanka, Nawala, LK
About Sreemali M.
Postgraduate Institute for English (PGIE)
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Based on a narrative case study conducted in two in-service teacher preparation programs for English language teachers in Sri Lanka, this paper explores the role of English language teachers in promoting so-cial cohesion and peace. Set against Sri Lanka’s National Policy on Social Cohesion and Peace (2008), which recognizes teacher agency and teacher education in actively working towards bridging the es-tranged Sri Lankan communities, this paper critically analyzes what it takes for teacher education to prepare prospective teachers to be cultural brokers who are willing and able take an active role in pro-moting social cohesion and peace. The paper argues that national and program level policies and curricula changes are insufficient if micro level and more personal efforts are not made to assist new teachers to develop more inclusive mindsets.


Conceptually this paper is grounded on transformative approaches to pedagogy that highlight the agency of teachers and the need for teacher preparation programs to support new teachers to shape and craft their emergent transformative practices. Such approaches to teacher education identify teachers as transformative intellectuals whose role is recognized as being in tune with their social, political and historical realities. This perspective aligns with an approach in which the teacher’s role extends beyond the mere transmission of knowledge and skills in the classroom to a broader, more inclusive vision of the whole socio-educational process.


The paper argues how national policies, curricula interventions, and the creation of a multicultural teacher community by diversifying the pool of prospective teachers to provide greater opportunities for inter-cultural interactions are insufficient if personal efforts are not made by teacher education programs and teacher educators to ensure that the program provides prospective teachers the theoretical lenses to make sense of their experiences with those who are different from them. Instead, mere cultural immersion lacking active measures that provide teachers with attitudes and skills to embrace diversity, results in the recreation of the existing status quo and promoting further mis-trust among communities.
How to Cite: Herath, S.M., 2019. The Complexity and Fear of Teaching the “Other”: The Role of Teachers in a Larger Process of Social Cohesion and Peace. OUSL Journal, 14(1), pp.81–102. DOI:
Published on 15 Aug 2019.
Peer Reviewed


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