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Volume 6 Number 2, Summer 2009, Pages 1-231   

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Crossing Borders and Negotiating Conflict: Lucian's Story of Teaching English from within in the Singapore Primary Classroom

    Barbara Spilchuk

Stories are a fundamental part of our lives. Connelly and Clandinin (1990, p. 4) suggest of stories and people: “People by nature lead storied lives and tell stories of those lives, whereas narrative researchers describe such lives, collect and tell stories of them and write narratives of experience.” Through the transaction of learning from each other, the researcher and participant can begin to understand specific experiences within the context of stories told and retold in community. New understandings about the content and context of a situation can begin to open up possible new imaginings for future stories to be lived. “A person is, at once, engaged in living, telling, retelling, and reliving stories” (Ibid, p. 4). This living of new stories can become an endless process, as differing perspectives continue to influence understanding.
In this inquiry, Lucian, a recently appointed Department Head of English in a Primary school, recounts for us his journey through the Singapore School System from student to teacher, and into school administration. During his travels, he recalls difficulties he encountered along the road because of what he terms his ‘differences'. These ‘differences' appear to have emerged from his earliest childhood English language learning experiences. They eventually begin to impact the relationships Lucian is attempting to negotiate with his colleagues and supervisors in the Singapore Primary Schools where he is assigned because his philosophical beliefs about the implementation of English pedagogy and practice begin to collide with the beliefs of others, and the policies that exist within his system.
Within this inquiry, I explore the conflicts and tensions that arise out of Lucian's story that require him to cross ‘borders of understanding' with others in the teaching profession. Lucian's story leaves me with many wonders about teaching and teacher leadership within the context of teaching English at the Primary level in Singapore.

Keywords: narrative, teacher education, primary practices, borders