“Will they see through me?” The exploration of disorienting dilemmas that contributed to the transformation of an enabling educator

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Trixie James


Vulnerability and failure: two terms not often associated with a university lecturer. This autoethnographic account follows the trajectory of the author’s experiences whilst navigating the new and foreign environment of academe. Using narrative reflections featuring internal dialogue, this paper shares some of the ‘disorienting dilemmas’ faced by an enabling education academic over the course of her career to portray how psychological resilience is acquired through times of failure and shame in order to provide opportunities for growth and empowerment. While many enabling educators work to build psychological resilience in their students by teaching them strategies to strengthen their self-efficacy, they may be less aware of the need for such strategies in their own lives and careers. Just as enabling students from non-traditional backgrounds may feel that they do not fit within the university learning environment, so too enabling educators from non-traditional backgrounds may feel alien within the academic profession. Through the lens of self-efficacy, this paper explores the ways in which fostering psychological resilience can be as relevant for enabling educators as it is for their students, and can form the basis for a greater understanding of the value of failure within enabling education.

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James, T. (2021). “Will they see through me?” The exploration of disorienting dilemmas that contributed to the transformation of an enabling educator. Access: Critical Explorations of Equity in Higher Education, 8(1), 83–96. Retrieved from https://novaojs.newcastle.edu.au/ceehe/index.php/iswp/article/view/156
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