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International teachers: Missionaries, mercenaries, misfits or mavericks?

Ledger, S.ORCID: 0000-0001-7050-1001, Vidovich, L. and O'Donoghue, T. (2014) International teachers: Missionaries, mercenaries, misfits or mavericks? In: 29th Annual Research Forum. WAIER: Research Informing Reform, 26 July 2014, The University of Notre Dame, Fremantle.


It is difficult to ascertain the numbers and the nature of teachers working in the large international schools network especially given the ambiguity of the term "international school" and the borderless world that exists. The international school system has been characterised as being equivalent in size to education systems in Sweden or Florida. This makes international teachers one of the largest mobile workforces in the world. With an estimated annual growth of international schools of around 8% this number is predicted to increase. But what do we know about these teachers and their motivations for becoming involved in international education? A recent study involving International Baccalaureate teachers in remote Indonesian contexts exposed similarities to Stirrat's (2008) characterisation of development and aid workers as "missionaries, mercenaries, misfits and mavericks". This paper draws on Stirrat's typology to explore reasons why teachers enter the international schooling system, with implications for their career trajectory in the field of international education. It also reveals the micro political world in which international school teachers are situated.

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