*This project was funded by The British Council as part of their Widening Participation programme.

Exploring teacher agency and identity through the Tree of Life approach

Led by Maria Grazia Imperiale, Lecturer in Adult Education at the University of Glasgow, and previously CUSP Academic Coordinator, Stephen Mander, and Damian Ross conducted a participatory research project as part of The British Councils Widening Participation programme.

The Project

Working with ten early career researchers across five countries, (Armenia, Brazil, Morocco, Nigeria, and the Occupied Palestinian Territories) and using participatory research and decolonising methodologies, the project used a  tree to explore the participants roots, strengths and capabilities as well as their hopes and dreams for the future.

Credit: The British Council

The Findings

The project focussed on four main findings namely:

  • Participants perceive identity as a transformative process, strictly intertwined with agency, (by agency we mean what they are capable of being and doing to change their reality according to their values and aspirations);
  • Participants believe in education for hope and social change, where students can flourish and have a positive impact on their communities and society;
  • In order to achieve change, participants feel they need to work both within and outside the system, since the education system itself may limit teachers’ freedom in constructing the education they aspire to be part of
  • While teachers may experience isolation and even despair, participants raised the need to keep their motivation alive and that one way of doing this is through peer-to-peer collaboration.

Watch the Animation

You can watch a short animation explaining the project’s aims and findings here on The British Council’s YouTube channel.

The Full Report

You can download a copy of the full report and watch a short video about the project here via the TeachingEnglish website.

The Culture for Sustainable and Inclusive Peace (CUSP) is funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) via the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) as part of the UK Governments Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF).