Council on Anthropology and Education
Volunteered - Oral Presentation Session
Matthieu Bolay (HEPFR & Geneva Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies)
Yonatan Gez (Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies Geneva)
This paper will highlight a neglected category within previous scholarship on teachers: Anglo-Saxon international school teachers, whose mission is to serve the educational needs of the offspring of expatriate workers. Recent decades have seen an exponential growth in the field of international schools, and a concurrent rise in the number of Anglo-Saxon teachers overseas. To date, such mobile teaching careers have often been presented in terms emphasizing exploration, travel and lifestyle-related migration. While acknowledging such factors, this paper will also draw attention to financial constraints, and in particular to the challenge of personal debts, which weighs heavily over many Anglo-Saxon teachers and especially younger ones. Based on ethnographic field research conducted in international schools in two countries (Switzerland and Kenya) as well as recruitment fairs and portals (in London, Toronto and online), this paper will discuss the negotiation and balancing of international teaching as related to both lifestyle and financial factors, and point at a strategic tradeoff between the two that orients their mobility trajectory. Moreover, by emphasizing the neglected aspect of indebtedness, it will argue that a key point of appeal for teachers’ participation in the international school sector lies in the ostensible participation in the carefree, privileged environment of lifestyle migration, which would have been out of reach for them otherwise. Such vision of privilege, however, is limited, as international teachers are locked into a precarious system that offers little protection and is highly unpredictable.