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“To educate is to develop a

consciousness of everything that exist;


it is to enter into contact with the
whole of reality. Clearly, intellectual
learning is of importance, but it should
serve the human being, not the powers
that governs nations” (Keppe, p.13).

ENGLISH
TEACHERS’
ROLE AS SOCIAL
TRANSFORMERS
IN COLOMBIAN
POST CONFLICT

Diana Giraldo Kurk


Joan Felipe Muñoz Flórez
Stefanía Muñoz Rodríguez
English teachers’ role as social Transformers in Colombian Post
Conflict

Abstract with activities that would lead to peace and

The purpose of this research is to a social transformation.

report the findings of a qualitative and Key words: coherence, discourse, English

exploratory research regarding the role teacher, practice, post conflict, social

English teachers have as social transformers, teachers´ role.

transformers in Colombian post conflict. Resumen

The main objective was to find the El propósito de esta texto es

coherence English teachers have between reportar los hallazgos de una investigación

their discourse and their practice as social cualitativa y exploratoria acerca del rol de

transformers in Colombian post conflict. los docentes de inglés como

The study was carried out in three schools transformadores sociales en el posconflicto

in the metropolitan area of Medellin. For colombiano, cuyo objetivo principal de

the process of data collection, three esta investigación era encontrar la

instruments were selected as most suitable coherencia entre el discurso y la práctica

for this investigation: interviews, de los docentes de inglés como

observations and questionnaires. The transformadores sociales en la era de

findings showed that there is coherence posconflicto colombiano. El estudio se

between English teachers´ discourse and realizó en tres instituciones situadas en

practice; therefore, there is the need of diferentes partes de la ciudad de Medellín

strengthening their role as social y el área metropolitana. Para el proceso de

transformers, and to continue working recolección de datos se seleccionaron tres

instrumentos acordes para la investigación:


English teachers’ role as social Transformers in Colombian Post
Conflict

encuestas, observaciones y entrevistas. Los language to recognize the needs students

resultados demostraron que existe are facing in a period after war in

coherencia entre el discurso y las prácticas Colombia. “We are meant to be a part of

de los docentes de inglés, así como the process of the healing of our nation.

también, la necesidad de seguir We are a wounded people. . . We all stand

fortaleciendo su rol de transformador in need of healing” (Wilson, 2002).

social y continuar implementando The aim of this study was to

proyectos que permitan construcción de explore the role English teachers have as

paz y una transformación social. social transformers in Colombian post

Palabras claves: coherencia, discurso, conflict. Besides our main objective, we

docente de inglés, posconflicto, prácticas, chose to add three complementary ones

rol docente, transformador social. throughout our research. First, was to

Introduction identify English teachers´ discourse and its

We discovered our research characteristics. The second, to observe

objective after researching and reading English teachers´ practices inside the

about how Colombian people have been classroom. The third, to contrast both of

affected in a direct or indirect way since them to support the coherence they have as

the conflict started in 1940 and the active social transformers in Colombian Post-

role English teachers have in the conflict. Subsequently, our research

classrooms as healers of those wounds the responded to the question in this study:

conflict has left on society. It is important How does coherence between English

to understand how English teachers use the teachers´ discourse and practices reveal
English teachers’ role as social Transformers in Colombian Post
Conflict

their role as social transformers in indicated by the theorist or the syllabus

Colombian post conflict? designer or the materials producer, and

We analyzed information and adopted or adapted by the teacher and the

interpreted findings, responding the learner in order to jointly accomplish the

study’s question and objectives. In order to stated and unstated goals of language

achieve our goals and answer the question, learning and teaching in the classroom”

it was essential for our study to establish (p.23).

four categories: discourse, practice, social Shafqat Ali (2016) states that

transformer and post conflict. “making plans, imagining the situation,

Discourse controlling, ingenuity, critical thinking,

It is necessary to understand that and making decision to solve problems”

although discourse has many definitions, (p. 38), are some of the skills a teacher

in our study we have defined it based on needs for his or her teaching daily practice.

theory as the use of speech. Schiffrin Luann Wilkerson and David M.

(2001) defines discourse as use of the Irby (1998) define practices with three

speech; (such as speech or important theories: behavioral, cognitive

communication) as it coincides with and social. Where behavior is guided by

functions and transmissions. teaching and learning based on the

Practices objectives. Cognitive theory involves the

According to Kumaravadivelu construction of meaning, and social theory

(2003) “practice is seen to constitute a set defines socialization into a new knowledge

of teaching and learning strategies community.


English teachers’ role as social Transformers in Colombian Post
Conflict

Social transformer about transformation. As a noun,

In recent years, the word transformation can refer, implicitly or

transformation seems to be appearing more explicitly, to some changed state, or to the

frequently in the social work literature change itself (e.g., “to be an effective force

(e.g., Blunt, 2007; Desyllas & Sinclair, for change, social work will require a

2014; Noakes, 2014). The increased transformation in how we practice”).

visibility of this concept suggests a These meanings are related to issues of

growing belief in the need or desirability theory, assessment and measurement—

of significant change in the understanding, how transformation is conceptualized and

practice, and aims of education. operationalized and how a pre-

Transformation denotes change. Its transformation situation is understood. As

connotative meaning suggests such change a verb, to transform refers to the action of

is more than incremental or superficial, but transforming. The social transformation

dramatic or profound. The word implies conceiving students as citizens

transformation has four typical who are in a permanent changing as part of

grammatical functions: as an adjective, a a building society. It is clear then the

noun, a verb, or an adverb. Most common necessity to look for addressing the

it is used as an adjective as in the phrase formation of citizens that leads to the

transformative education. This phrase generation of informed, conscious and

implies education that aims to transform compromised individuals in the dynamics

(e.g., the way students think) or of a changing society.

educational practices designed to bring


English teachers’ role as social Transformers in Colombian Post
Conflict

The “Foro Educativo Nacional” “Over the last decade there has been an

held in Colombia, 2012 stated that “formar increasing global awareness of the impact

para la ciudadanía es educar para la paz” of conflict on education systems and the

the main purpose was to transform the importance of education for children and

education quality and to form better youth as part of post conflict

human beings with values and ethical reconstruction”. (Smith, 2009).

principles that would allow them to live In a study carried in Burundi after

respectful and peaceful lives. According to peace agreement was signed, the author

the Minister of Education on that year, stated that it is very important to teach

Campo Saavedra, the teachers´ role is very values to younger generations who have

important to form citizens, because they suffered extensive violence, especially

are not only responsible for the academic after losing those values such as honesty,

process, they have to generate democratic solidarity and respect for human rights. A

environments, foment participant spaces social program in school is needed

and to strengthen the autonomy, which is urgently to bring the awareness of

fundamental for the XXI century education responsibility to shape the

generation. personalities of young children able to heal

The World Education Forum at hearts and minds. The author considered

Dakar in 2000 stated that education could that “A moral value that is known but not

play a key role in preventing conflict and practiced is of no value” (Page 349). That

building peace. is why it is very important to experience

(Tomlinson and Benefield, p. 1) everyday problems outside school to


English teachers’ role as social Transformers in Colombian Post
Conflict

practice compassion and solidarity. A Relaciones Internacionales y el Diálogo

social transformer needs to integrate daily Exterior [FRIDE], 2008, p. 2) 1

school life, the family and the community “...From authors such as Garzón,

(Rwantabagu, 2010). Parra & Pineda (2003), post conflict

Post Conflict encompasses a broader period of time,

Colombia has been living difficult beginning with the total or partial

times for many years. “Prior to the Justice elimination of violence, and it includes

and Peace Law, Colombia began a deep processes of peace building, which

comprehensive Disarmament, can be understood such as due systemic

Demobilization and Reinsertion (DDR) planning around the economic, political

program, reforming previous legal and social needs that allow the durability

frameworks in an effort to collectively de- of this condition generated among the

mobilize the paramilitaries”. (Theidon, actors involved in the conflict”.

2006). Infante states that there is necessity The role of conflict as an obstacle

to understand a post conflict situation but to the achievement of the goal of

first we need to understand what conflict ‘Education for All’ (EfA) was recognized

is. Conflict refers to armed violence at the World Education Forum at Dakar in

involving groups of various kinds, such as 2000, where it was stated that education

military forces, guerrillas, armed groups, could play a key role in preventing conflict

and paramilitaries, religious or ethnic


1
Conflicto se refiere a la violencia armada en
communities, using weapons or other la que se enfrentan grupos de varias índoles,
tales como fuerzas militares, guerrillas, grupos
destructive methods. (Fundación para las armados, paramilitares, comunidades
religiosas o étnicas, empleando armas u otros
métodos destructivos.
English teachers’ role as social Transformers in Colombian Post
Conflict

and building peace. The impact of conflict overcome, Empty and become full, Bend

on education is thus a key issue for and become straight” (Lao Tzu). This line,

developments in education across the and the philosophy it expresses have been

world. Conversely, education is cited by many schools of anti-authoritarian

increasingly recognized to have a role to thought, advocating peaceful resolution to

play in mitigating and/or exacerbating conflict for centuries (Mark, 2012).

conflict. Education can provide a This report concludes a project

protective function for children in conflict which sought to identify the role English

or post conflict situations (Nicolai and teachers have as social transformers in a

Triplehorn, 2003); in related ways to the Colombian post conflict in order to

role it plays for children in care (Fletcher- suggest future strategies inside the English

Campbell et al., 2003). teaching classrooms.

According to Taoism, “all human After establishing the research

beings are naturally good but are corrupted question, objectives and having defined

by law and an incorrect belief in how they the categories, we could continue with the

are supposed to behave in society. By methodological process in order to carry

regulating people’s behavior through law, out the study proposal.

government only makes them behave Methodology

badly because it creates an artificial The following graph shows the

environment that human beings rebel process throughout the research.

against in an effort to maintain their

natural state of harmony. Yield and


English teachers’ role as social Transformers in Colombian Post
Conflict

Graph 1 conduct our next study” (Nargundkar,

Research Process 2003, p.41). The aim of this research was

to identify English teachers´ discourse as

social transformers and to observe their

practices inside the classroom. Following

step, contrasting the discourse and

practices in order to find coherence among

them. Consequently, to reveal their role as


Process followed by researchers throughout
the research. Designed by Stefanía Muñoz. social transformers in Colombian post

conflict.
The aim of this research was to
In order to acquire the objectives
explore English teachers´ role as social
above described and to answer the
transformers in a Colombian Post-
research question, the study developed a
Conflict. In order to undertake this
qualitative approach and used interviews,
research, it was necessary to bring into
questionnaires and observations as
play an exploratory study. It has been
techniques to collect data. These
stated, “An exploratory study may not
instruments were applied with a frequency
have as rigorous as methodology as it is
of six times the questionnaire, four times
used in conclusive studies, and sample
the observation and four times the
sizes may be smaller. But it helps to do the
interview. The study took place in three
exploratory study as methodically as
different schools: two private bilingual
possible, if it is going to be used for major
schools in Medellin and one public school
decisions about the way we are going to
English teachers’ role as social Transformers in Colombian Post
Conflict

in the Metropolitan area. The New School, the Common European Framework their

located in Las Palmas with a strata level English level ranges between B1 and C1,

five and six; a school created with the in the private schools, A2 and B1 in the

objective of offering education to some public school. They were all born in

kids who were socially discriminated. Colombia, two have lived in the United

Colegio Ferrini Bilingüe with a strata level States. They live in different areas of

three and four; it belongs to medium social Medellin. Therefore, they belong to

class, and it is located in Robledo diverse socio economical strata.

neighborhood and “Institución Educativa There have been many studies on

Diego Echavarría Misas” located in Las post conflict and education in general.

Asturias neighborhood and with a strata After reading and searching there was not

level one, two and three. This research any research on the English teachers´ role

group decided to choose these institutions as social transformers in a post conflict

because the diversity of population could country. Consequently, according to the

provide different perspectives that were project characteristics, we organized the

helpful in their research process. The methodology process under the following

research study covered six in service mode: qualitative approach, exploratory

English teachers from fourth and fifth research, socio critical paradigm in the

grades, two from each school, ages ranged methodological line: “Construcciones

between twenty to forty-five years old. investigativas en lenguas extranjeras”.

They all have professional studies in

English Language Education. According to


English teachers’ role as social Transformers in Colombian Post
Conflict

10

This study gave a hypothesis that

the researchers could confirm in the data

analysis.

In order to collect data, we Graph 2

proposed three instruments focusing on the Questionnaire´s closed questions2

objectives that helped us to answer the

question. The interview and the

questionnaire, applied in Spanish to make

teachers feel more confident when

answering the questions.

The first instrument we considered

to apply in this research was the

questionnaire. Its aim was to identify

concepts English teachers have about Closed questions taken from the
questionnaire answered by teachers in the
Colombian conflict and post conflict, and three different schools.

how English teachers are teaching the The questionnaire had two open

topic inside fourth and fifth grade English questions, which helped researchers to

classrooms. First, we explored, with closed collect facts about how English teachers

questions, the previous knowledge the are working the post conflict concept

teacher had about Colombian conflict and inside the classrooms.

post conflict.

2
CAC: Conflicto Armado Colombiano
English teachers’ role as social Transformers in Colombian Post
Conflict

11

The researchers started selecting

the answers by different colors according

Graph 3 to each category.

Questionnaire´s open questions

According to Urbano, Claudio A.,

Yuni, José A. (2006) research by

questionnaire comes from quantitative

context but: “Survey research comes from

the context of quantitative research.

Although it can collect qualitative

information, what characterizes survey

research is its intention to describe,

analyze and establish relationships

between variables in particular populations

or groups, generally of a certain extent”

(Urbano, p.63). 3 We considered the

interview as a form to find out teachers´


Questions answered by English teachers about
conflict and post conflict in the three different
3
schools. La investigación por encuesta proviene del
contexto de la investigación cuantitativa. Aunque
puede recopilar información cualitativa, lo que
caracteriza a la investigación por encuestas es su
intención de describir, analizar y establecer las
English teachers’ role as social Transformers in Colombian Post
Conflict

12

discourse and experiences during the language teacher as social transformer in

conflict in Colombia. Yanes (2003) Colombian post conflict. Furthermore,

defines the interview as a dialogue after applying the instruments, we

between an interviewer and interviewee narrowed down the information that

with three different objectives: a) obtain teachers gave us. We obtained a lot of

information about facts; b) to know information in the social transformer

comments about something that happened category; after analyzing it carefully, we

or c) make biographical sketch (Yanes, P. realized that the information written there

14). And lastly, the third instrument used was the discourse English teacher had

was the observation, which is defined given us. Therefore, we moved some of

according to Marshall and Rossman (1989) the answers into the discourse category.

as "the systematic description of events, When analyzing teachers who did not

behaviors, and artifacts in the social setting answer to some questions and were

chosen for study" (p.79) (Kawulich, 2005) avoiding the interview and observation, we

The purpose of the observations considered having an emerging category.

was to collect facts about the language Thus, it leaded us into a new finding.

teacher’s practices inside the English Graph 4

classroom. In this manner, the Information Narrowed down

observations allowed us to contrast the

discourse interviewed and the observed

practice in order to reveal the role of

relaciones entre variables en poblaciones o grupos


particulares, generalmente de cierta extensión.
English teachers’ role as social Transformers in Colombian Post
Conflict

13

The graph on the left has all the answers given Narrowed sentence 4
by the teachers. The graph on the right has the
answers but after the researchers narrowed
down all the information they had from the
three instruments they applied.

For example:

These are the different answers given by Information after we narrowed down
the answer given by the six teachers.
several teachers in one of the open
Data Analysis
questions from the questionnaire.
In the interest of analyzing the
¿Qué tipo de prácticas fomenta desde el
data, we took into account the process
aula que le permite sensibilizar a los
given by Burns (1999). In order to follow
estudiantes frente al conocimiento de
up the Burns process, we applied the
postconflicto?
selected instruments. We made hypothesis,
Graph 5
we reaffirmed them, and we interpreted
ETQ001 open question
information and defined findings. In order

to answer the research question, we had to

applied changes in some of the

instruments. We carried on defining some

hypothesis according to the teachers’

answers and lastly, we reinterpreted these

hypotheses by being more realistic and


Two answers given by two teachers omitting irrelevant information.
in two different schools.
Research Question
Graph 6
4
BMP, CE, AV, APL, AF are the teacher's
initials.
English teachers’ role as social Transformers in Colombian Post
Conflict

14

How does coherence between classrooms and there is coherence between

English teacher´s discourse and practice what they say they do and what they really

reveal their role as social transformers? do. Teachers as transformative

Findings intellectuals able to reflect on teacher's

This section presents the analysis theory and practice based on critical

of the collected data first by exploring the pedagogy (Kumaravadivelu, 2002, p.13).

coherence English teachers have as social After applying the questionnaire

transformers in Colombia post conflict; and the interview, the researchers could

second, how they are strengthening their identify that teachers have a common

concepts as social transformers, and discourse. They state they are working

thirdly how teachers address social issues strategies and activities, as well as the use

by living in Colombia during the conflict of words as a tool that helps teachers and

and the last one is how English teachers students inside the classroom to solve

are connecting their practices with the conflict situations.

requirements of Colombian´s government

in education during a post conflict period.

Finding 1

There is coherence between Graph 7

teachers´ discourse and practice in their Evidences 1

role of social transformers.

There are English teachers as social

transformers in Colombian English


English teachers’ role as social Transformers in Colombian Post
Conflict

15

conflict and achieving a better

coexistence?
Open questions recognizing teachers´
discourse. When analyzing the four teachers’

observation notes, we realized they were


During the observation, it was
all working on conflict situations by
possible to identify teachers´ practices
promoting peaceful activities. That was
having coherence with their discourse as
exactly what they told us they were doing
social transformers.
inside English classrooms.

Finding 2
Graph 8
Teachers are strengthening their
Evidence 2
concepts as social transformers.

Teachers are aware of the change

they are responsible for in Colombia post

conflict classrooms. They are being able to

Checklist designed by researchers in order to be more reflective on making students


observe English teachers´ practices inside the
classroom. conscious about their reality. Giroux

(1990), stated that “the main purpose of


We were observing the classes, and
education is the transformation of the
experiencing what the teachers previously
society, but this transformation involves
told us about their practices inside the
not only teachers, but also students;
English classrooms.
making them more critical and more
One question was: Does the teacher
reflexive” (p. 171.) Critical pedagogic
promote peacemaker solutions to solve
English teachers’ role as social Transformers in Colombian Post
Conflict

16

views teachers as “professionals who are

able and willing to reflect upon the

ideological principles that inform their

practice, who connect pedagogical theory

and practice to wider social issues, and

who work together to share ideas, exercise

power over the conditions of their labor,

and embody in their teaching a vision of a

better and more humane life” (Giroux and

McLaren, 1989, p. xxiii).

When applying the interview,


Open question designed by researcher in the
teachers talked about being social interview.

transformers even though they did not

know what the real meaning of the concept Graph 10

was. The following questions provided us Evidence 2

the information to develop the finding.

Graph 9

Evidence 1

Open question designed by researchers in


the interview.
English teachers’ role as social Transformers in Colombian Post
Conflict

17

Graph 11 made teachers insensible towards the post

Evidence 3 conflict topic.

The following two answers show

how teachers are avoiding talking about

post conflict.

Closed question designed by researchers in the


interview answering the social transformer
category. Graph 12

Evidence
Finding 3

Teachers address social issues in

Colombia post conflict.

Teachers avoid talking about

Colombian conflict and post conflict due

to different concepts and thoughts.

Perrenoud (2001), states that teachers


Teachers’ answers related with post
define their territory, their relation with conflict and social transformers.

knowledge and their interest according to


Finding 4
the institution needs. Indeed, he refers
English teachers are connecting
some concepts never heard in this
academic projects to their class
profession: fear, conflict, and loneliness
practices and to their discourse as social
among others. Sometimes being immersed
transformers.
in a violent and conflictive community has
English teachers’ role as social Transformers in Colombian Post
Conflict

18

English teachers are implementing

projects inside the classroom established

by the institution in order to solve

conflicts. According to “ley”1732 (2015),5

Education for peace is understood as the

participation and civic competences for Open question in the interview allowed us
to identify teachers’ discourse about the post-
peaceful coexistence, democratic conflict and social transformer categories.

participation, building equity, respect for


Conclusions
plurality, human rights and an
The research process allowed us to
international humanitarian law.
reach some conclusions in order to present
Such activities and workshops are
English teacher’s role as social
promoting mutual respect and dialogue,
transformers in Colombian post-conflict.
accepting differences, solving conflict,
Throughout the research, we could
repairing actions and working with others.
observe that there is a willingness among
Graph 13
English teachers to be social transformers
Evidence
in a post conflict period. Although teachers

are in a process of improving their abilities

to be social transformers, they are showing


5
Educación para la paz: “ se entiende como la commitment to engage in reflection,
participación y competencias ciudadanas para
la convivencia pacífica, la participación
introducing values and increasing
democrática, la construcción de equidad, el
respeto por la pluralidad, los derechos
humanos y el derecho internacional consciousness in learners’ life.
humanitario”.
English teachers’ role as social Transformers in Colombian Post
Conflict

19

To be social transformer is not only

a task for teachers, it is a commitment that

every single person should achieve as a

social agent. While we applied

instruments, we could observe that English

teachers expressed that every single person

needs to generate change, much more in

our society and its post conflict period.

Colombia is facing an important

challenge on peace building; therefore, the

English teacher´ role is to bring awareness

and reflection to learners about the reality

they are living in. Keppe (1989), states that

“education is to develop a consciousness

of everything that exists; it is to enter into

contact with the whole reality” (p.13).

As authors of this project, we are

aware our research is conducive to further

studies.
English teachers’ role as social Transformers in Colombian Post
Conflict

20

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English teachers’ role as social Transformers in Colombian Post
Conflict

23

Wilkerson, L., & Irby, D. M. (1998).

Strategies for improving teaching

practices: a comprehensive

approach to faculty development.

Academic Medicine, 73(4), 387-96.

Wilson, B. H. (2002). Symbolic closure

through memory, reparation and

revenge in post-conflict societies.

Journal of Human Rights.

Yanes, R. (2003). La noticia y la

entrevista. Una aproximación a su

concepto y estructura. Universidad

de Sevilla.
English teachers’ role as social Transformers in Colombian Post
Conflict

24

Appendix A

Consent form signed by teachers.

Appendix B

The interview was the instrument that gave

us more information for answering the

research question.
English teachers’ role as social Transformers in Colombian Post
Conflict

25

Throughout the two semesters in “trabajo

de grado” with our adviser Claudia Uribe

Hoyos, we have learned a lot about

research. An important issue is to have a

clear object and question, therefore the

research will develop itself without any

problem. We are aware of our role as

English teachers being social transformers;

we know English is just an excuse to teach

students the main purpose of life, taking

into account the necessities of our country.