Encountering Faces Of The Other: A Phenomenological Study Of American High School Students Journeying Through South Africa
Garran, Christopher Scott
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ABSTRACT TITLE OF DISSERTATION: ENCOUNTERING FACES OF THE OTHER: A PHENOMENOLOGICAL STUDY OF AMERICAN HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS JOURNEYING THROUGH SOUTH AFRICA Christopher Scott Garran, Doctor of Philosophy, 2004 Dissertation directed by: Professor Francine Hultgren Department of Education Policy & Leadership In this phenomenological study, I explore the lived experience of American high school students encountering the Other within South Africa. My research question wonders, "While dwelling with one-an-Other, what is the experience like for my students to journey to the place of South Africa and to encounter the primary Other of the people, the Other of nature and the Other of social justice?" My exploration relies heavily upon the works of Levinas, Heidegger and Freire. As a research guide, van Manen keeps me attuned pedagogically. Through the de-tour and the tension of the encounter experience, I follow my students' voices. As I dig deep into their lived experience of encountering the face of the South African Other, I unearth the phenomenon's essential structures. A preliminary study with two students reveals in the initial encounter a "starting from oneself" where they feel a captured, advertised and alienated presence. In going face-to-face and in unpacking their prejudices, they place the Other behind an exotic mask. Considering the lived place of South Africa, these two students speak to a dwelling together and a wandering-out. As I dig deeper, the eight students of my study lead me toward the tensions within South Africa's beautiful, poor places. In these lived places, the Other's face summons my students and guilt spreads across their being. In seeing the Other, my students begin to realize that they, too, are watched. They begin to recognize the Other in the self and the self in the Other. Fractured by their encounter, my students step away from the ego-self. They begin to homestead and to construct an-Other-self. Standing on the frontier of transformation, my students begin to cultivate a self that crosses borders, holds an awareness of its attachment to the world and feels its unfinishedness. Finally, I suggest that teachers and students must lend their presence to one-an-Other while re-implacing themselves out in the world of lived experience. Intervening in the world, together as teacher and students, we cultivate the pedagogical conditions for transformative, social justice education.