Vol. 12 (2005)

Themes and Metaphors in the Autobiographical Narratives of New Sector Secondary Teachers in Trinidad and Tobago: A Case Study

Cynthia James
The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine Campus


  • Life Histories,
  • Themes,
  • Metaphors,
  • Secondary School Teachers,
  • Language Arts,
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • ...More


This paper analyzes autobiographical narratives of 14 female and 2 male secondary school teachers of English, employed at schools in the new education sector of Trinidad and Tobago and enrolled in an in-service postgraduate teacher education programme. The study investigates the major themes and metaphors that shape the realities of these teachers and their students. A secondary aim is to find out what culture permeates Language Arts teaching at their schools. The analysis indicates that metaphors of control, blame, and survival are common signifiers of how teachers deal with perceptions of inadequate teacher preparation, helplessness, and a sense of failure. Teachers' narratives impute indiscipline and low academic ability to their students. With regard to Language Arts, teachers express feelings of inadequacy about language teaching as compared to literature teaching. In examining assumptions, contraditions, and hidden perspectives, the paper suggests that the valuable insights gained from self-referential documents need to play a more important part in teacher education programmes and planners' deliberations, if Universal Secondary Education is here to stay in its present format. Language Arts teachers, in particular, need to review their positions; also teacher educators who serve the sector should encourage teachers to review their narratives on a more frequent basis, in order to periodically reassess where they have been, in the contest of future goals.