Caught in a Transnational Nexus: Teacher Practices and Experiences in a Context of Divergent Ties to the Homeland

Naomi Lightman


The Greater Toronto Area (GTA) is a hub for both wealthy and impoverished immigrant families and youth who often seek the benefits and prestige of a Western education, while still maintaining ongoing ties (transnational connections) to their place(s) of origin for professional advancement, personal support and/or due to the uncertainties of their residency in Canada. Yet despite the increasing significance of transnationalism for many immigrants, only limited educational research examines this phenomenon. This paper reports on fifteen qualitative interviews with teachers in public and private secondary schools in the GTA. Initially, a brief overview of the relevant North American literature connecting the schooling realm with transnationalism is provided. Subsequently, the analysis focuses on how the divergent transnational connections of students affect teaching practices and experiences in selected GTA schools. Themes explored include: how strong emotional connections to countries of origin are related to teacher concerns about a perceived lack of “Canadian” identity within the student body; growing concerns about a “transnational transformation” of secondary schooling; and, how, if, and why teachers are increasingly questioning the (ir)relevance of the multicultural framework within GTA schools.


transnationalism, secondary schooling, Greater Toronto Area, multiculturalism

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Copyright (c) 2015 Naomi Lightman

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