Teachers – Being in Control or Being Controlled?
no. 05_september 2019
Teachers find themselves at the heart of historical and contemporary struggles about public education – its purpose, its contents and its means. Many perceived social problems are delegated to schools to be solved by teachers. Inclusion, democratic citizenship, employability, sustainability – to name a few. Teachers must juggle tensions and competing demands bearing upon them. They are entangled in asymmetric and complex power relations, as the ones subjugated to power, but also as the ones exerting power.
The topic of teacher autonomy has been extensively explored in state schools in the West. However, little research has been done on neoliberal discourses and notions of performativity within international schools. From the outside, it might seem that international schools are not subject to the ‘tyranny of performativity’ due to their relatively autonomous status outside of national education systems. However, I argue that technologies of performativity are reconfigured in international schools in relation to the sociocultural idiosyncrasies of the local context.
Teachers are both controlling agents and controlled subjects, in any educational system. Educational research has approached this dual role from a variety of practical and theoretical angles, the most notable perhaps being the perspective of teacher autonomy as it is negotiated between, simply speaking, structure and agency. This essay urges to more critically illuminate the relationship between our conceptions of teacher agency on the one side, and student empowerment on the other. It discusses under what circumstances increased teacher agency may lead to more student empowerment, and generally to a more democratic understanding of schooling; and conversely, how strengthened teacher agency may be able to constrain student empowerment.
Quality education requires qualified professional teachers. They should be well-trained and have the opportunity to upgrade their skills throughout their careers. Administrative burdens and other non-teaching responsibilities need to be reduced to the minimum and educators should be supported so that they can concentrate on education.
This article explores practices of control of teachers that have been initiated by New Public Management and the trend to learnification within contexts of low-stakes accountability. Using Foucault’s notion of governmentality as a theoretical lens, it asks about the transformations of technologies by which teachers are supervised and guided. It argues that also within low-stakes conditions, bureaucratic supervision of the disciplining society gives way to indirect technologies of control. Even though teachers manage to adhere to their routines in the absence of serious sanctions, the emerging regimes of control shape their subjectivities.
It is commonly agreed that mangagerialism has deleterious effects to teachers’ emotions because it tends to technically disempower teachers’ work, which is also referred to as deskilling, proletarianisation and/or deprofessionalisation in the literature. However, the article argues that the another dimension of teacher disempowerment, which is ideological disempowerment, has been ignored by the literature. Therefore, the aim of this article is to discusses how managerialism may ideologically disempower teachers and how ideological disempowerment affect teachers’ emotions. It is suggested that the ideologically disempowered teachers may not only become powerless to resist heavy administrative workload assigned by external agents but also realize the instructional meanings of the workload which should have instructional meanings in nature.
This paper explores how two broad educational policy frameworks – the global educational reform movement (GERM) and the equity approach – have influenced and shaped recent education policy initiatives in New Zealand. The result is a tension within the New Zealand school system that simultaneously promotes and constrains teachers’ control and autonomy. Three policy initiatives: (1) the move to a devolved school system; (2) the introduction of a content-free curriculum; and (3) the implementation of National Standards at the primary level, act as mini case studies to examine how aspects of top-down control and standardization simultaneously intersect and compete with teacher autonomy.
In this article Liz Jackson examines Kwok Kuen Tsang’s article on the ideological disempowerment of educators and relates to it research on emotional labour in education. It also reflects on the educational implications of the observation of ideological disempowerment of educators. It emphasises the need for democratisation of education so that educators can be at the frontline of discussions and commitments to wellbeing, of students and educators alike, in education.
Hood’s contribution in this issue offers a useful problematization of the concept of professional autonomy, its conditions and the challenges it faces when teachers navigate contradictory aspects of the school system. However, this could have been further utilized, in light of the specific characteristics of the New Zealand system, to produce a more fine-grained analysis of how it connects to the issue of accountability and to the explanation of changes in teachers’ experiences and practices following the reforms discussed.
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