The Pluto Problem: Reflexivities of Discomfort in Teacher Professional Development

Matthew A.M. Thomas, Frances K. Vavrus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


This article utilises narrative inquiry as a means to explore reflexively our roles as two scholars/teacher educators with extensive experience in education and international development initiatives in East and Southern Africa. It focuses on a teacher professional development program in Tanzania we helped initiate and facilitate for more than five years whose aim was to promote more critical, learner-centred approaches to teaching across the country’s secondary school curriculum. We narrate several key incidents from the program that led us to examine our complicity in establishing and maintaining the very hierarchies of knowledge production and dissemination the program sought to challenge. Throughout, we engage reflexively with postcolonial theory in an effort to provincialise the Anglo-American assumptions about pedagogy implicit in learner-centred approaches to teaching that form a key aspect of contemporary global education reform.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)486-501
Number of pages16
JournalCritical Studies in Education
Issue number4
StatePublished - Mar 27 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported in part by the Comparative and International Education Research Network, Sydney School of Education ans Social Work, University of Sydney.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Narrative inquiry
  • Tanzania
  • comparative and international education
  • international development
  • pedagogy
  • postcolonial theory
  • teacher education
  • teacher professional development


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