Pragmatic Radicalism: An Autoethnographic Perspective on Pre-Service Teaching

Jul. 25, 2009

This article was published in Teaching and Teacher Education, Vol 25 number 6,
Author: Andrew Miller, " Pragmatic Radicalism: An Autoethnographic Perspective on Pre-Service Teaching", Pages 909-916, Copyright Elsevier (August 2009)”.

How might a pre-service teacher ‘teach against the grain’ and challenge their pre-existing assumptions about the profession?

By deconstructing and reconstructing the author's schooling experiences and the social and cultural discourses and practices that have shaped and defined him, the author hopes to interrupt his conditioning and avoid revisiting his unhappy school experiences upon future students (Miller, 2006). The author is trying to break the cycle of social reproduction and domination and become the type of teacher who liberates rather than domesticates.

In this article the author uses ‘autoethnography’ and ‘mystoriography’ to analyse his professional development and to imagine and enact a teaching identity based on Garth Boomer's ‘pragmatic–radical’ educator. Pragmatic radicalism provides a strategic means of surviving and undermining hegemonic school systems while revolutionising the politics of the classroom.

Pre-service teachers can challenge the socialisation process and build teaching identities that break the traditional ‘authoritarian–transmission’ model. Critical reflection on identity construction and past school experiences is essential to this endeavour.


Miller, A. (2006). The teaching urge: and seeking amnesia. English in Australia, 41(1), 18–24., p. 18

Updated: Dec. 15, 2009