This thesis is, in large part, the story of the author’s transformation from a teacher/researcher who studies others to one who studies himself. It is a story that unfolds against the backdrop of his experiences as a teacher, student, and researcher conducting qualitative research into issues of education in Louisiana and Mexico during the three-year period from the spring of 2001 to the spring of 2004—a tumultuous time in American history by any measure.
At the heart of this thesis lies the decision to adopt a research approach that is more personal and open-ended than purposeful and intentional. It is an approach that employs narrative as a means of identifying issues for further exploration. The end result is that the researcher himself, as much as anything or anyone else, is the subject of the research.
Each of the five chapters of the thesis is divided into two parts: the first narrative, the second critical. The critical portion of each chapter addresses an issue that has arisen, directly or indirectly, in the accompanying narrative. The following issues are considered: relations between the United States and Mexico, the paradoxes of non-traditional research of the type presented by the thesis, current trends in education reform, public political discourse in the aftermath of 9/11, and the role of the teacher in loco parentis. Pertinent issues from post-colonial studies, including neo-colonialism, binarism, the Other/other, and othering, are addressed throughout. The paper closes with a discussion of professional self-formation wherein insights from all of the preceding chapters are brought to bear on a consideration of the teacher as a figure that has been marginalized, or othered.