Promoting Citizenship in a Postcolonial Space: A Study of Teachers' Beliefs and Practices in Jamaica
Williams, Dierdre Alicia
Klees, Steven J
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Evidence suggests that the values, attitudes and skills teachers emphasize in preparing students to participate as adult citizens in wider society are informed by the meanings teachers ascribe to citizenship and these meanings can in turn be traced to the contexts of teachers' lives. Given that teachers' practices are informed by their beliefs, these beliefs must first be understood. However, few studies have examined teachers' beliefs about citizenship or the underlying factors that inform those beliefs. This research examined the beliefs about citizenship espoused by a group of secondary teachers in the nation-state of Jamaica and the factors informing those beliefs. This qualitative case study utilized an analytic framework incorporating literature on conceptions of citizenship; and literature on teacher beliefs, including belief formation. The findings of the study highlight the ways in which the postcolonial context of Jamaica problematizes these teachers' understandings of citizenship and this in turn has implications for research and practice in the field of citizenship studies. The study illuminates the connections among: (i) teachers' beliefs about citizenship and about their students' needs, abilities, and life trajectories; (ii) teachers' lived experiences; and (iii) traditional race and class hierarchy in postcolonial Jamaican society.