Commitment to change lives: teachers’ experiences of living in Dhaka City and working with disadvantaged children

Shohel, M. Mahruf C. and Hedges, Claire (2010). Commitment to change lives: teachers’ experiences of living in Dhaka City and working with disadvantaged children. In: Oxford Ethnography Conference 2010, 06-08 Sep 2010, Oxford.


Teacher education and training are in a crisis in countries like Bangladesh where the State failed to provide basic education for its citizens. Understanding teachers’ lives and school contexts are vey important for exploring teachers’ professional development. This paper is based on three ethnographic case studies of teachers’ lives. In the context of problems and difficulties of everyday life, any simplification fact leads to inappropriate blaming and unrealistic solutions, because it ignores the interrelationship of highly significant factors.

The analytic framework used in this study is from Bronfenbrenner’s (1979, 1992) theoretical work on the ecology of human development to place the teachers at the centre of the research focus. This framework suggests that the development of a person cannot be effectively understood without paying attention to the connections between micro-level (within person), meso-level, exo-level and macro-level factors. Understanding teachers’ professional development from the teachers’ perspective is a means of exploring the validity of Bronfenbrenner’s framework too in this context.

The challenge for this kind of study is to develop methods that generate data of sufficient richness and depth. Therefore, data derived from a mixed method research strategy was adopted for the study. This paper has through some lights on teachers’ professional and personal lives as well as their work patterns while they are living in a metropolitan overcrowded chaotic city and working in disruptive school environments. This paper has presented teachers’ own voices about their professional understanding of those disadvantaged children too. Finally, this paper has raised some questions worthy of further research and made an effort to contribute to the emerging debate about teacher education and training in Bangladesh.

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