Negotiating Intercultural Spaces and Teacher Identity in an Internationalised School in Shanghai

Keywords: critical interculturality, cross-cultural experiences, interculturality, international schools, international school teachers


There is now a general acceptance that schools need to prepare students for the realities of a globalised world, which necessitates developing intercultural competence. Such an educational mandate is felt particularly keenly in internationalised schools, where the work of teaching and learning involves the negotiation of diverse cultural assumptions, practices, and identities on a daily basis. Whilst schools are in a position where they need to formulate some kind of understanding of what intercultural competence means and how it is expected to be developed with educational content and pedagogical practices, the notion of intercultural competence is perpetually contested. Critical scholars have critiqued the tendency for theorising on intercultural competence to adhere to “solid” notions of culture and assume that there is an end to the intercultural process at which point an individual will become interculturally competent (e.g., Dervin, 2016; Ferri, 2018). This paper, however, argues that it is important to understand the ways in which solid notions of culture surface in the lived experiences of teachers working in intercultural contexts. The paper draws on findings from a qualitative case study of international teachers’ cross-cultural experiences in an international school in Shanghai, China to highlight the ways in which individuals draw on notions of solid culture as a resource for claiming an identity position in relation to dominant cultural practices in the local context.

Author Biography

Adam Poole, University of Nottingham, Ningbo, China

Adam Poole (Ed.D) is a practitioner-researcher currently based in Shanghai, China. He teaches IBDP (International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme) English A and B at an international school in Shanghai, and has just completed and successfully defended his doctoral thesis, which was undertaken with the University of Nottingham, Ningbo. Adam has published a number of articles on international education and the funds of knowledge/identity approach in international peer-reviewed journals. His research interests include international teachers’ experiences in international schools, teacher professional identity, and developing the funds of identity concept.