The Urban Review

, Volume 45, Issue 2, pp 232–249 | Cite as

From Cultural Dissonance to Diasporic Affinity: The Experience of Jamaican Teachers in New York City Schools

  • Erold K. Bailey


This phenomenological study was designed to investigate the experience of Jamaican teachers recruited to serve in elementary and high schools in New York City. The study explored three broad questions: (1) What was teaching like for the participants before they assumed their assignments in the US? (2) What is teaching in the US like for them? and (3) What meanings/insights do they derive from their experience teaching in the US? The findings indicate that the immigrants’ experienced profound cultural dissonance in the classroom as their experiences in the US differed significantly from their previous experience in Jamaica. This dissonance was illustrated by four prominent themes that emerged from data collected through in-depth interviews: (1) lack of respect for teachers and other adults; (2) disregard for teacher authority; (3) lack of student appreciation for the teacher’s work; and (4) student apathy towards education. The cultural dissonance immigrants experienced made them more sensitive to the condition of African American and other minorities, disrupted their strong sense of nationalism, and engendered a growing allegiance to the black Diaspora.


Urban education Immigrant teachers Phenomenological research Cultural dissonance Diaspora studies 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Education DepartmentWestfield State UniversityWestfieldUSA
  2. 2.University of Massachusetts AmherstAmherstUSA
  3. 3.Clark UniversityWorcesterUSA
  4. 4.University of the West IndiesKingstonJamaica

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