Culture, ideology and educational change : the case of English language teachers in Slovakia
This study of cultural and ideological aspects of educational change presents the case of state school teachers of English in Slovakia in the immediate post-1989 period. It considers the problems they face in the successful management of rapid change in their field, at the same time examining the implications of their situation for teacher education and support programmes in the region and elsewhere. It is argued that the voices of teachers, who are expected to act as both recipients and agents of change, have often been overlooked in previous studies of this type, with the ideas of the educational planner or innovator tending to dominate. The views of older, more experienced teachers in particular have seldom been consulted, with the result that they are sometimes perceived as being 'resistant to change'. In addition, many studies of change fail to take into consideration strong cultural and ideological influences on educational practice: it is claimed that these are of particular importance in the context of post-communist societies opening their doors to ideas imported from the West. In this study, a combination of interview, focus group and classroom observation data allows the voices of different protagonists (including educational specialists) to emerge. Through the juxtaposition of different accounts of the effects of educational change, it can be shown that successful change management depends very much on teachers themselves, and on their ability to resolve tensions between different cultural and ideological traditions. The provision of support for teachers via published materials, educational projects or collaborative networks also needs to take such traditions into account.