Theses Doctoral

“Many Kenyas”: Teachers’ Narratives, Perceptions and Pedagogies of Their Encounters With Diversity

Karmali, Naheeda

There is a gap in educational research regarding teachers’ narratives of teaching in diverse classrooms, especially in East Africa. It is essential to investigate teachers’ beliefs and perspectives because these are strong indicators of their planning, instructional decisions, and classroom practices and can also frame their perception of classroom transactions. In this study, I asked a group of Kenyan primary teachers at an informal settlement school about their perspectives on Kenya’s diversity; how they teach curricula reform objectives such as citizenship for all in their classrooms; and how experiences from their personal lives have shaped their stances on matters related to identity, nationhood, citizenship, and other related concepts.

These teachers’ localized meaning-making revealed their citizenship consciousness and their considerations of history, power, and politics, which in turn impelled agency, action, and increased accountability in this place-specific project of citizenship education. I considered the school itself both as a liminal space, forgotten within Kenya’s urban planning and governance policies, and also as a relational, pluralistic, and intellectual space that merited scholarly research on pedagogy and practice. This study’s findings created space for new and different frameworks for conceptualizing teachers’ knowledge. Specifically, this study helped make teachers’ narratives of their experiences teaching in this context more visible and valuable, underscoring the importance of teacher education research as an area of onto-epistemological inquiry.

Learning how teachers understand, think, and teach in complex urban borderlands can contribute to an emergence of shared understandings about belonging and identity in multiethnic spaces, particularly in postcolonial sites. This critical narrative case study collected responses to interviews and focus group discussions and also included classroom visits to observe how teachers made meaning of curricular objectives and understood concepts of sociocultural plurality, identities, citizenship, and belonging. The narratives that teachers held contained the potential to reimagine constructions of difference; invited a reconceptualization of ideologies related to language and inclusive spaces; and highlighted the need to consider inter-epistemic synergetic approaches within the fields of teacher education and curriculum studies in order to design pedagogies of pluralism to facilitate teaching and learning in diverse classrooms.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Curriculum and Teaching
Thesis Advisors
Ghiso, Maria Paula
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
May 22, 2024