Pre-service teachers, professional experiences and culture shock: 'Enactment and sense making' in new spaces and places
This chapter unpacks the findings of a qualitative inquiry that aimed at further understanding the nature of the 'Sense Making'1 process on 50 pre-service teachers within the boundaries of an initial impact of teaching in a new 'cultural space and place.' These pre-service teachers undertook a teaching practicum in three separate third world countries, Cambodia, Nepal and India. Data were collected using a methodological 'bricolage' of observation, semi-structured interview, reflective journals and a pre and post reflective survey. Taking on the previously established theoretical position that this form of cultural work experience engenders an unfolding psycho-emotional reaction that commences with 'cultural shock',2 we sought to understand the ensuing facets of this process in which the destabilised understanding of personal identity enters a process of 'enactment as sense making.'3 'Enactment' is seen as 'the creation of an environment in which individuals seek to create a physical space to contain their actions, which also functions to constrain their actions.'4 While not fully explored, our previous data suggested that the process of 'enactment' is bifurcated, and that prior to any external physical reorganisation of personal space, an internal narrative is created that acts as a socio- emotional spatial mediation between the need to return to past narratives of 'place and space' and the immediate perceived confusion of the present. From this current project, this internal narrative appears to coalesce around metaphoric markers of topography, which is characterised by 'professional and personal' identity transformation, in which 'psycho-spatial' resilience contracts and then expands as the new space becomes internalised and personally owned.