The teacher-as-stranger as model and metaphor

Alex Pomson*, Michael Gillis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


In this paper the authors explore the heuristic potential in the image of the teacher-as-stranger and use it as a frame for reflecting on teacher change and growth. Drawing on the sociological figure of the stranger, they conduct a qualitative study of a sample of teachers who are not only strangers in a metaphorical sense, but who, because they take up four-year fixed contracts in foreign schools, experience the ambiguous consequences of being strangers in the classroom. This research provides concepts with which to describe the educational potential in the 'strangeness' experienced by all teachers. It points to the possibility that pedagogical insight comes not only from familiarity but from difference, that teachers' capacity for criticism is eroded by their institutional socialization and that this critical sense can be restored if teachers are provided with opportunities for cross-cultural 'changes of scene'.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)45-56
Number of pages12
JournalTeacher Development
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2010


  • Culture shock
  • Sociology of the stranger
  • Teacher development
  • Teachers' stories


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