Sentio ergo sum: Professional philosophy and personal identity in the making of an enabling educator

Flavia Santamaria, Ann-Marie Priest


The ethos of enabling educators is central to their work, but there are few accounts of how this ethos develops. This paper uses narrative enquiry to explore the development of one Australian enabling educator’s professional philosophy through her construction of her life experiences and personal identity. Proceeding on the assumption that narrative is the most effective way to examine the richness and complexity of the interrelationship between personal identity and professional philosophy, this paper presents an autobiographical account of an enabling educator’s journey from non-traditional student to non-traditional academic. Analysis of this narrative reveals that feeling, which the educator defines both as empathy and as the capacity to feel pain, is at the heart of the educator’s construction of her self-identity. This personal quality is transmuted, in her professional practice, into a transgressive philosophy of care in which allowing the possibility of failure for a student is seen as central to building resilience, a philosophy which challenges and extends dominant constructions of the concept of care in enabling education. More broadly, the paper points to the importance, within the enabling space, of the presence of educators from non-traditional backgrounds with diverse life experiences, identities and philosophies.


enabling educators; narrative enquiry; professional philosophy; personal identity; pedagogies of care

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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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