I’m hearing voices: A multivocal, autoethnographic study into constructing a holistic enabling educator identity

Gemma Mann


Despite the proven efficacy of enabling courses for Australian students from non-traditional educational backgrounds, the contribution of educators to this success, particularly those who themselves inhabit diverse identities, has remained largely unexplored. This investigation uses an autoethnographic account of the author’s own experience of working in enabling education in a regional university to examine the identity of ‘Enabling Educator’. Drawing on creative writing techniques, the author presents a multivocal narrative exploring the intersections and boundaries between her personal and professional identities as a lesbian and academic. Inner voices are captured throughout the story to highlight the hidden battles of identifying with a marginalised group while simultaneously identifying as a teacher. Analysis of the story in light of relevant literature reveals that hiding an aspect of personal identity at work creates tension that can be detrimental to the wellbeing of the academic. Integrating identities in the classroom, however, not only alleviates stress for the academic, but also presents a valuable role model to students, promotes inclusion, and can transform students’ lives. In an enabling course, where many students already feel marginalised, demonstrating that people with diverse sexual identities are welcome in higher education can be very powerful.


enabling education; queer teachers; teacher identity; diversity and inclusion; equity; autoethnography; multivocal narrative

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Banner image: Kira Jovanovski (2020), movement score 01 (detail): oil stick and acrylic on paper. Photograph by Kira Jovanovski. Cover image: Kira Jovanovski (2020), grunt_iteration 02 in the boughs and stamped: installation in University Gallery. Photograph by Jedidiah Cranfield. (c) the artist.





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