A Narrative Approach to Study Teachers and HIV and AIDS Teaching


This case study is based on my PhD study which explored how teachers’ subjectivities and emotions are intricately linked to their HIV and AIDS teaching. I embarked on a qualitative, narrative study of five teachers to elicit teachers’ stories and co-construct narratives. Teachers were purposively selected from three primary schools in a Midlands town in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. The broad question this study aimed to address is as follows: How do teachers’ subjectivities and emotions influence their teaching about HIV and AIDS education? Subjectivity embraces our sense of self; our thoughts, feelings, and emotions; and how we relate to our social world. This case study describes a narrative approach and highlights the steps in conducting narrative research. It also draws attention to the ethical challenges and power dynamics associated with narrative research. In addition, the case sheds light on some of the advantages and limitations of conducting narrative research. Therefore, this case study establishes narrative as a creative and innovative approach which enables teachers to not only make meaning of their life experiences and identities but also their emotions in their HIV and AIDS teaching. Engaging in narrative research, therefore, affords teachers opportunities to draw on narrative resources and critically reflect on who they are as teachers, that is, their identities as well as their teaching practice. A key finding of this study is that teachers constituted multiple, dynamic, and conflicting subjectivities when teaching about HIV and AIDS. A further insight is that teaching about HIV and AIDS is an emotional practice as teachers experienced both positive and negative emotions. An argument is made to locate narrative at the heart of researching sensitive, emotional topics such as HIV and AIDS education.

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