The things (we think) we (ought to) do: Ideological processes and practices in teaching

Feb. 16, 2008

Source: Teaching and Teacher Education, Volume 24, Issue 2, February 2008, Pages 437-450

Ideologies of education and of teaching are complex and layered, and they contain macro-social, institutional as well as micro-ideological levels. Building on cases from the UK and South Africa, this paper argues that notions of ‘professionalism’ among teachers display such ideological layering, and that such notions are heavily invested with interests that transcend the operational or institutional scales.

In the case of the UK, we discuss the way in which a teacher described her experience of taking a degree course, exposing a rift between individual, experiential knowledge and institutional, organisational knowledge, characteristic of the large-scale transformations of the educational field in the UK.

In the South African case, we show how a white teacher instructing black township children deploys images of the disciplined body that derive from the Apartheid ‘old order’. In both cases we see that views of professionalism are infused with micro-ideological, practical beliefs as well as with macro-ideological social and political views. In terms of the implications of our line of argument for teacher education we conclude that student teachers should be taught explicitly about the discourses by which teaching is constructed so that they are able to reflect more critically on their professional practice.

Updated: Apr. 08, 2008