‘I’ve become a lot tougher’: Expatriate teachers’ experiences of precarity and resilience in non-traditional international schools in China

Adam Poole, Tristan Bunnell

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Abstract

The arena of education known as ‘international schooling’ has grown enormously, from a body of 2,500 schools in 2000 to almost 13,500 by 2022. By 2019, China had emerged as having the most schools delivering a non-national curriculum in English outside of an English-speaking nation. The arena continues to be dominated by British and North American educators. One enduring aspect of workplace reality is the short-term contract, normally of between two and three years. The field is acknowledged to be inherently precarious and insecure, with high levels of turnover, and a bleak ‘negative’ lens of imagination has always persisted. This paper focuses attention on the lived experiences of expatriate teachers among the growing body of ‘non-traditional international schools’ that might be best termed ‘Chinese Internationalised Schools’. Through in-depth phenomenological interviewing of six expatriate teachers, the reality of ‘short-termism’ was examined. Whilst the findings highlighted, as expected, the negative aspects of short-term employment, the findings also identify many positive outcomes. These include opportunities for developing resilience, agency, and reinvention. This offers scope for a new vision, based upon the accumulation of ‘resilience’, which helps to explain the continuous growth of the arena despite the presence of precarity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)590-609
Number of pages20
JournalBeijing International Review of Education
Volume4
Issue number4
Early online date3 Mar 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 31 Mar 2023

Keywords

  • China
  • international school teachers
  • international schools
  • precarity
  • resilience
  • short-term contracts

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • History
  • Philosophy
  • Education

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