The Power Game: Power Dynamics between the Teacher and the Students in a Graduate Seminar

  •  Gihan Sidky    


This study investigated power relations in a graduate seminar on Literacy learning and knowledge acquisition. Three categories were examined in relation to ideological assumptions: students’ expectations, institution’s expectations, and teachers’ perceptions of their roles as guided by their teaching perspectives. The study aimed at identifying how those aspects shaped by ideological perspectives influenced the interviewed teachers’ viewpoints about power dynamics. It also addressed the dominance of the mainstream norms over those of the minority students coming from different cultures. The issue of voice in relation to diversity was discussed as an important factor that shaped power relations in classroom discourse. A critical perspective was adopted throughout the paper with the purpose of advocating a pedagogical stance that would encourage the empowerment of students and build upon their diversity. Through the study of field notes and audio tapes of interviews and classroom interactions, three main factors seemed to have contributed to teachers’ perceptions of power relations within classroom settings. The factors were: students’ expectations, institutions’ expectations, and teachers’ perceptions of their roles. Regarding issues of voice, participants seemed to have come to a consensus concerning reasons that might have led to persistence on teachers’ part to students’ conformity to mainstream norms, which they explained in terms of limitations in most teachers training in dealing with diversity.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.