Exploring conflicts of western-styled education in West Africa: a Peace Corps teacher's self-study in a Sierra Leonean village

This self-study was conducted by a Peace Corps volunteer teaching English in a junior high school in Northern Sierra Leone from 2012-2014. A chronicled body of research suggests that the expectations and goals of Sierra Leone’s western-styled education system do not correlate with the needs and realities of rural Sierra Leoneans. Conclusions from a longitudinal review of educational literature in Sierra Leone from the 18th century suggest that few studies have investigated the realities of western-styled education at the rural-classroom level, or from the perspective of the classroom teacher. The self-study presents data through a retrospective analysis of field journals, participant observation, surveys, and interviews, grounded in Pierre Bourdieu’s social theories on habitus and the forms of capital. Results illustrate a highly contextual narrative exploring the transformation of a western educator’s educational beliefs, assumptions, and cultural underpinnings, and how that transformation informed his teaching practice and understanding of the realities of western-styled education in rural Sierra Leone.