Global Trends in Educational Reform and the Struggle for the Soul of the Teacher!
Stephen J Ball
Centre for Public Policy Research, King's College London
Paper presented at the British Educational Research Association Annual Conference, University of Sussex at Brighton, September 2 - 5 1999
In this paper I shall advance some quite general arguments; but I do not speak from a finished position but rather what I say 'takes place between unfinished abutments and anticipatory strings of dots' (Foucault, 1991). If I may borrow from a writer whose work I greatly admire; 'What I say ought to be taken as "propositions", "game openings" where those who may be interested are invited to join in; they are not meant as dogmatic assertions that have to be taken or left en bloc ...' (Foucault, 1991 pp. 90-91).
Let me begin by positioning my concerns and arguments here in two ways. I want to explain the two halves of my title. Put simply, the general context for my thesis is the process of convergence in education policies which is currently observable across the globe, encompassing nations which are culturally and economically very diverse. Levin (1998) describes this as a 'policy epidemic' and identifies six common policy themes in play. These policies, as I shall go onto explain, are internally complex and complexly inter-related but display two main 'thrusts' or organising principles; one is the insertion of the 'market form' which is intended to subject education to the dynamics and culture of competition and business; the other is 'performativity' - that is the use of targets and performance indicators to drive, evaluate and compare educational 'products'. The market provides governments, at least at face value, with a non-interventionary form of governance (or perhaps more accurately a form of 'non-interventionary intervention). The market is both advocated and in some cases required or imposed by multi-lateral agencies like the World Bank - which 'champions public austerity and a reduced role for government in the provision of education' (Jones, 1998 p. 152). Performative techniques also offer to governments an alternative to direct intervention and specification as a form of 'steering-at-a-distance' (Kikert, 1991) and establish a culture of accountability. When employed together these policies (or more accurately policy ensembles) offer a politically attractive and 'effective' alternative to the state-centred, bureaucratic, public welfare tradition of educational provision.
But I want to be very clear here; when I talk about policy convergence I do not mean by this what might be called 'simple convergence' that is exactly the same policies being invoked in very different national settings but rather a 'paradigm convergence' - the invocation of policies with common underlying principles, similar operational mechanisms and similar first and second order effects(1). First order effects in terms of their impact on practitioners, practice and institutional structures and procedures and second order effects in terms of outcomes for patterns of access and equity. It is possible to analyse and discuss the education 'policy epidemic' with an emphasis either on the global similarities or the local differences. Levin (1998) and Whitty & Edwards (1998) among others emphasise the latter. I intend to focus on the former and attend to what one of my students calls 'commonality within difference' (Marques Cardoso, 1998) or what Sweeting & Morris (1993) call 'exogenous trends'.
To take two examples from Hong Kong, Walker & Dimmock (1998) suggest that both the Target Oriented Curriculum (TOC) framework and the School Management Initiative (SMI) reflect 'similar educational trends in the West' (p.12) and in relation to the latter Walker and Dimmock also points to similarities also in recent reforms in school administration in mainland China.
My second point of concern, the second half of my title, refers to one of the major consequences or practical effects of the policy ensemble introduced above and may be thought of as an obituary for the teacher. What I want to argue is that the global trends of education policy which are currently in play have the effect not simply of reforming teachers and reforming education but they are bringing about profound shifts in the meaning of education, the role, purpose and values of the teacher and teaching - they are changing 'what it means to be a teacher' and 'what it means to be educated'. While these policies are typically represented as technical changes in funding, administration or assessment or as means for raising standards of educational performance or 'improving' schools, I want to suggest that they do much more than this. Taken together they also change the 'processes and contents' of teaching and learning, redirect effort and resources and re-frame the 'interests' and purposes of teachers and schools. Teachers are not simply changed or 'improved' they are 're-made'. This is the 'creative destruction' of reform - 'the market not only dissolves social relations, it also creates them' (Sayers, 1992 p. 126).
Now at this point you may well want to respond to me and say 'so what' - 'education needs to be reformed'! 'As we enter a new millennium a fundamental reappraisal of teaching and education would seem to be appropriate'. I cannot argue with that. But that is not my point. I am not here to defend the past for its own sake or argue against the need for reform. Neither am I wanting to romanticise the teacher. This is not, I hope, simply a display of nostalgia. I am very aware of what Charles Lemert, in his discussion of modernism and postmodernism, refers to as 'the unbearable evidences of nasty deeds done in the name of good' (Lemert, 1997 p. 164). What I do want to do is suggest that we are failing to analyse adequately and understand fully the multi-facetted social, moral and educational effects of reform and that as a result we may end up with new kinds of 'remade'/reformed' teachers and new forms of education which are the unintended or unanticipated outcomes of our current policy enthusiasms. We may indeed have to face more unbearable evidence of new 'nasty deeds done in the name of good'.
Allow me one further gesture of clarification in relation to my title and the positioning of my concerns - what do I mean by the 'struggle for the soul of the teacher'? A whole variety of allusions are intended to be signalled here. When in the early 1980s Margaret Thatcher began to spell out the meaning and intentions of her radical, reforming Conservative government in the UK she explained that "Economics is the method", but went on to say; "The aim is to change the soul" (Donald, 1992 p. 122). In other words, the process of reform that lay at the core of the Thatcherite project was not simply about changing economic structures and redefining the processes of government, it was also about changing the meaning of citizenship and of 'the social', that is, redefining social relationships and social consciousness. And this gives some indication of the other etymological referents in play here; Nikolas Rose's work and in particular his book 'Governing the Soul' - which is 'about the powers that have come to bear upon the subjective existence of people and their relations one with another' (Rose, 1989 p. ix); the work of Hugh Wilmott in business studies, exploring the 'dark side' of the project of corporate culture 'drawing attention to the subjugating and totalitarian implications of its excellence/quality prescriptions' (Willmott, 1993 p.515); what he calls 'the governance of the employees soul' ; and sometime after submitting my title for this lecture I was surprised but also pleased to received a copy of a book by American sociologist Tom Popkewitz titled Struggling for the Soul: The Politics of Schooling and the Construction of the Teacher (Popkewitz, 1998). Popkewitz's focus is on the classification and ordering of the school child. Thus, he argues that in these terms: 'The moral responsibility of schooling is to govern "the soul" - inner beliefs, feelings, and sensitivities that generate actions' (pp. 49-50)(2). (I also remember that in mainland China teachers were once referred to as 'engineers of the soul'). In turn all of these writers are profoundly influenced by the thinking of French social philosopher Michel Foucault. 'It would be wrong' Foucault says 'to say that the soul is an illusion, or an ideological effect. On the contrary, it exists, it has a reality, it is produced permanently around, on, within the body by the functioning of a power...' (Foucault, 1979 p.29).
My interest here then is upon educational reform as the play of power both as, in Foucault's terms, discourses - bodies of knowledge about teaching and teachers - and practices or technologies - regulatory techniques, the calculated organisation of human forces and capacities. More specifically, as Rose explains, such technologies range 'from the layout of buildings to ... the [r]elations of hierarchy... [p]rocedures of motivation ... [and] [m]echanisms of reformation and therapy (Rose, 1989 p.8). All essential features I would suggest of current educational reforms.
In part at least the establishment of a global policy paradigm in education and social welfare can be identified, as I have already indicated, with the activities of certain key supranational agencies (World Bank, IMF. OECD)(3). For example, Philip Jones (1998) argues that the World Bank's 'preconditions for education can only be understood as an ideological stance, in promoting an integrated world system along market lines. The role of such agencies can be seen as partly that of enforcement but also partly the legitimation of market policies as economic common sense and as the only logical format for public service provisions (see Vanegas, 1998 for an account of such processes in Colombia). In effect, the market solution, is articulated as new master narrative, a deeply fissured but primary discourse encompassing 'the very nature of economics and therefore the potential range and scope of policies themselves' (Cerny, 1990 p. 205).
There is a further global dimension that needs to be recognised here. One of the mechanisms underlying policy convergence is the shift in many countries from an emphasis on social or mixed social and economic purposes for education to a predominant economic emphasis. Education is seen, much more than previously, to be simply a crucial component in international economic competitiveness. These new policies are often presented and represented in condensates like 'The Learning Society' in the UK. What is often attempted in such policy texts and policy rhetorics is a simple elision between individual and national interests. This is particularly evident in those societies which are replacing the logic of fordist mass-production with new knowledge-based systems of flexible production. In other words, the imperatives of globalisation re-orient the policy concerns of national states in such a way that they are increasingly preoccupied with creating the conditions necessary to promote economic competitiveness in the new international economic order, rather than attending to problems of social integration or nation building or to education policies designed to achieve equality of opportunity in the labour market.
Carter & O'Neill (1995) summarise evidence on the state of education policy making in their two volume collection on international perspectives on educational reform by identifying what they call the new orthodoxy - a shift is taking place they say in the relationship between politics, government and education in complex Westernised post-industrialised countries at least (p.9). They cite five main elements to this new orthodoxy:
- improving national economics by tightening a connection between schooling, employment, productivity and trade.
- enhancing student outcomes in employment related skills and competencies
- attaining more direct control over curriculum content and assessment
- reducing the costs to government of education; and
- increasing community input to education by more direct involvement in school decision-making and pressure of market choice.
Put very straightfordwardly this convergence in education policy, indeed in social policy more generally, involves the replacement of bureaucratic-professional regimes of organisation and provision with managerial-entrepreneurial regimes or, in other words the marketisation of education and the insertion of business methods into the organisation and management of schools - and colleges and universities. One result of such changes is a increasing blurring of the divide between the public and the private sector and between public and private goods. That is, education is becoming commodified. In a variety of ways the fragile and labile insulations between the economic and education systems are being thoroughly breached. Now, while educational analysis has attended to the content, pedagogic and organisational aspects of the breaching (particularly from Bowles & Gintis, 1976 onwards) there is another relatively unexplored modality in this changing relationship between education and production; that of values (see Heelas & Morris, 1992)
Now advocates of the market tend to approach the issues of values in one of two ways; either seeing the market as simply value-neutral, as a mechanism for the delivery of education which is more efficient or responsive or effective - US writers Chubb & Moe (1990) for example; or presenting the market as possessing a set of positive moral values in its own right - effort, thrift, self-reliance, independence and risk-taking or what Novak (1982) calls 'virtuous self-interest' (see also Lane (1983) and Young of Graffham (1992). Those taking the latter view clearly acknowledge, indeed proselytise, the market as a transformational force which carries and disseminates its own values. As such markets and systems of competition and choice through which they operate re-work their key actors - in our case, families, children and teachers and require schools to take on board new kinds of extrinsic concerns and in consequence re-work and re-valorise the meaning of education. Put crudely, the education market both de-socialises and re-socialises; it creates new identities and destroys sociability, encouraging competitive individualism and instrumentality.
One of the things that is achieved in the establishment of the market form in education, as in other sectors of public provision, I want to argue, is the creation of a new moral environment for both consumers and producers - that is, a form of 'commercial civilisation' (Benton, 1992 p.118). Within this new moral environment, this 'commercial civilisation', schools are being inducted into a 'culture of self interest' (Plant, 1992 p.87). In philosophical terms, the market rests upon and inculcates the ethics of the 'personal standpoint' - the personal interests and desires of individuals - and obscures and deprecates the egalitarian concerns of the 'impersonal standpoint'. 'The duality of standpoints' the basis for practical ethics and moral stability - that is the nexus of partiality and equality - is thus collapsed (Nagel, 1991). Within markets, in theory at least, personal motives are given preference over impersonal values. Within the market form both consumers and producers are encouraged, by the rewards and disciplines of 'market forces', and legitimated, by the values of the personal standpoint, in their quest for positional advantage over others. The 'procedures of motivation' embedded in the market form elicit and generate the drives, relationships and values which underpin competitive behaviour and the struggle for advantage. What we are witnessing then in the celebration of the market and the dissemination of its values in education is the creation of a new ethical curriculum in and for schools and the establishing of a moral 'correspondence' between public and business provision.
More generally this is part of the 'pauperisation of moral concepts in the public sphere' (Bottery, 1992) or as Hirsch (1977) argues, the relationships and interactions inherent in the workings of the market erode the moral cultural stock of societies. Hirsch quotes H.G. Johnson: 'We live in a rich society which nevertheless in many respects insists on thinking and acting as if it were a poor society' (Hirsch, 1977 p. 1) or as Zygmunt Bauman puts it: 'The sociality of postmodern community does not require sociability' (Bauman, 1992 p. 198). The idea of the deliberate and planned pursuit of the 'common good' and the values of civic virtue or what Hegel called 'the ethical life' are rendered virtually meaningless within the disciplines of competition and survival. The spaces within which reflection upon and dialogue over values were possible are closed down.
However, evidence of 'values drift' (Gewirtz, 1993) and of the borrowing of practices from other cultural contexts is not in itself sufficient to demonstrate a wholesale substantive change in school cultures but it does point up the breaking down or blurring of boundaries (weakening the classification) between previously distinct categories of practice and systems of values (Bernstein, 1971). Further to this, Mclaughlin (1991) usefully distinguishes between what he calls reorientation change which involves the 'absorption of the language of the market but in such a way that it would make little or no impact on the dominant culture and core working arrangements of the organisation' (p.38) and colonisation change which 'involves major shifts in the cultural core of the organisation and all its existing forms of actions and activities' (p.38). (A similar distinction may be made in relation to individual teacher change - the teacher either 'absorbs' or is 'colonised' by new values). Also educational institutions 'positioned' differently within their education markets or operating within different kinds of 'local competitive arenas' (Woods, 1994) will be effected differently and will respond differently. Commenting on the Higher Education marketplace, Bernstein (1996 p.74) suggests that:
Those at the top, or near the top, of this hierarchy may maintain their position more by attracting and holding key academic stars than by changing their pedagogic discourse according to the exigencies of the market... On the other hand, those institutions which are much less fortunate in their position in the stratification.. will be more concerned with the marketing possibilities of their pedagogic discourse.
Similar responsive variations are evident in our research on secondary schools in the UK (Gewirtz, 1996). Nonetheless, while the objective impact of the market may be different in these examples, both sorts of response 'make sense' within the logics of the market.
Individual children are also positioned differently and evaluated differently in the education market, the child is also commodified. The processes of institutional competition in the market calls into play 'an economy of student worth'. In systems where recruitment is directly related to funding and indicators of performance are published as 'market information' then the educational and reputational 'costs' of the child become part of the 'producers' response to choosers. This also occurs where exclusivity is a key aspect of a school's market position. In this way the dynamics of choice and education markets contribute to a new 'hidden curriculum'. School students are located within and subjects of this new educational and moral environment, they are exposed to and educated within a new values set.
However, the 'responsiveness' of institutions to market signals does not simply have it effects in terms of external relations of funding, choice or representation. The paraphernalia of market autonomy also changes internal roles and relationships. As has been found repeatedly elsewhere, Dimmock & Walker (1997) indicate that the introduction of policies of financial devolution in Hong Kong seem to produce a re-focusing of the primary tasks and substantive identities of school principals around the management of the budget and budget maximisation and away from educational and instructional leadership. The meaning of principalship is also 're-made'. Indeed, the principal is a key carrier of the new values and methods of school organisation and in some evaluations of reform is seen as a key beneficiary of the new autonomies. However in the UK at least this latter point ignores the massive outflow of 'old' principals through schemes of early retirement. A constant refrain in our research, among principals and other 'reformees' has been the comment that: 'This is not what I came into teaching for' - they seem to be expressing a sense that the work of principalship has become 'inauthenic' (see below) and alienating - 'not them'. Thus, more accurately, some principals have been aggrandised and others damaged by the requirements of managerial leadership and its attendant responsibilities. They are 'colonised' and 'colonisers'.
Principals play a crucial 'defining' role in the developing culture and ethical disposition of their school (Grace, 1995). New forms of training and preparation, for example the increasing number of principals and would-be principals taking generic MBA courses, introduce into schools new languages and management techniques - like Total Quality Management. One of the key skills of 'new principalship' is a kind of cultural bilingualism (Clarke & Newman, 1992), the ability to translate between the languages and move across (or even synthesise) the sub-cultures of 'finance' and 'learning'. That is an ability to make it appear that market driven, financial or managerial decisions are compatible with or indeed enhance good 'educational' practice. As in other kinds of organisations: 'The management of meaning is an expression of power, and the meanings so managed are a crucial aspect of political relations' (Cohen & Comaroff, 1976 p.102). However, it is also important to make the point that one aspect of the effectivity of managerialism is its 'dislocation' - that is management is no longer simply identified with the activities of one group, or role or office. In education, 'we are all managers now'!
The Management of Performativity.
One of the sophistications of the use of the market form in the public sector is that it provides governments with new ways of getting 'inside' public services and new ways of 'steering'/directing public sector organisations - like schools - from the 'outside'. Managerialism and performance monitoring - or more generally the strategies of performativity - provide twin mechanisms for these new forms of 'government'. Managerialism has been the key mechanism in the political reform and cultural re-engineering of the public sector in northern countries over the past 20 years. It has been the primary means 'through which the structure and culture of public services are recast... [and]... In doing so it seeks to introduce new orientations, remodels existing relations of power and affects how and where social policy choices are made' (Clarke, Cochrane & McLaughlin, 1994 p.4). In other words, managerialism represents the insertion of a new mode of power into the public sector, it is a 'device for creating an entrepreneurial competitive culture' (Bernstein 1996 p. 75). It plays a key role of the wearing-away of professional-ethical regimes that have been dominant in schools and bringing about their replacement by entrepreneurial- competitive regimes. Managerialism works from the inside-out
Performativity on the other hand has its effects from the outside-in. What I mean by performativity is what Lyotard (1984 p. xxiv) calls 'the terrors - soft and hard - of performance and efficiency - that is, 'be operational (that is, commensurable) or disappear'. What this means is the use of the publication of information, indicators and other institutional performances and promotional materials as mechanisms to animate, judge and compare professionals in terms of outcomes. Performativity, or what Lyotard also calls 'context control', is intimately intertwined with the seductive possibilities of a particular kind of economic (rather than moral) 'autonomy' for both institutions and in some cases individuals - like principals; the 'autonomous' subjectivity of such productive individuals has become a central economic resource in the reformed, entrepreneurial public sector.
Performativity 'works' in two main ways. First, as a disciplinary system of judgements, classifications and targets towards which schools and teachers must strive and against and through which they are evaluated. The 'language games' of 'standards' and 'quality' do important work here. The education systems in many developed and developing countries are now thoroughly subsumed within the 'quality revolution' (Kirkpatrick & Martinez-Lucio, 1995). 'Quality improvement' and 'assurance' strategies are increasingly a key resource in the struggle for competitive advantage between educational organisations; although the practical meanings of excellence and quality as realised in the processes of comparison of and competition between schools remains largely unexamined. Second, as part of the transformation of education and schooling and the expansion of the power of capital, performativity provides sign systems which 'represent' education in a self-referential and reified form for consumption. That is, the translation of educational processes into performance indicators and measurable outcomes, feeds into the more general process of the commodification of education - educational experiences are rendered ever more clearly into the form of a private, exchange good. Hau, Ip & Cheng (1996) suggest that the Target Oriented Curriculum assessment system in Hong Kong is being used in both these ways - that is as 'high stake individual student's assessment' and 'inter-school comparison' (p.9). And they quote Broadfoot's point that 'as long as assessment data are used as the basis for league tables and the like, the potential for performance assessment to enhance learning is unlikely to be realised and grave injustices may be done to many schools and children' (Broadfoot, 1995 p.34). Or as Bernstein (1996 p.75) puts it; 'the steps taken to measure and maintain performance, for the survival of the institution, is likely to facilitate a state-promoted instrumentality. The intrinsic value of knowledge may well be eroded...'. In other words, there is a fundamental and studiously unexamined assumption embedded here - that the information or medium of exchange established in these social markets or systems of accountability does 'stand for' and thus 'represent' valid, worthwhile or meaningful outputs; that what you measure, what you get, is what you want or is worth having.
Right across the public sector 'performance information' is a key resource and one of the main disciplinary tactics of accountability. In the name of public interest more and more information about public sector organisations is required, recorded and published. In part this provides 'information' for market decision-making but it is also a basis for 'official' judgements. Crucially, practice becomes re-focused upon those tasks which serve and are represented within the 'information' of performance. Tasks and activities which cannot be measured and recorded or which do not contribute directly to performativity are in danger of becoming 'valueless'.
The activities of management drive performativity into the day to day practices of teachers and into the social relations between teachers. They make management, ubiquitous, invisible, inescapable - part of, embedded in, everything we do. We choose and judge our actions and they are judged by others on the basis of their contribution to organisational performance rather than deriving from any 'authentic' principles or values - 'what is good for learners in any given context and set of circumstances' (Grimmett and Neufeld 1994 p.4). That is, the focus shifts from a concern with individual needs to a concern with aggregate performance. Again, as within the pragmatics of the market, the demands of performativity, dramatically close-down the possibilities for metaphysical discourses (Lyotard 1984), for relating practice to philosophical principles like social justice and equity. And fables (Lyotard 1984) of promise and opportunity such as those which attend democratic education are also marginalised(4). Furthermore, both of these aspects of educational performativity outlined above - comparison and commodification - are linked to the provision of 'information' for consumers within the education market form. And they are thus different ways of making schools more responsive to their consumers. Within all this schools will become what ever it seems necessary to become in order to flourish in the market. The heart of the educational project is gouged out and left empty. Within the education market schools 'are a function of the exigencies of the market context which signifies the resources out of which their particular identity is constructed' (Bernstein1996 p. 74). Schools take on the qualities of postmodern depthlessness - yet more floating signifiers in the plethora of semiotic images, spectacles and fragments that increasingly dominate consumer society(5). And indeed, the twin disciplines of competition and performativity also encourage schools to 'fabricate' themselves - to manage and manipulate their performances. Schools are increasingly aware of the significance of the way they represent themselves to both the relatively naive gazes of 'lay' audiences and official inspectors. Thus schools have become much more aware of and attentive to the 'need' to carefully organise the ways in which they 'present' themselves to their current and potential parents through promotional publications, school events, school 'productions', open evenings and local press coverage. There is a general tension or confusion in the education market between information-giving and impression management and promotion. Systems of calculability almost always leave latitude for representational variation or what I refer to elsewhere as fabrication (Ball, 1997 and 1998).
As a further variation on the fabrication of organisations in the UK many schools have used their new budgetary freedoms to re-design and re-decorate their entrance and reception areas - typically in open-plan 'bank' style - comfortable sofas, pot-plants, posters and up-lighting. Again the purpose seems to be to take control of and change the organisational messages conveyed. There is a detachment and confusion of signs; a shift from bureaucratic to business-like imagery; from something that is clearly 'represented' as a public service to something that might be a consumption good. We have also noted similar changes in the production of prospectuses and brochures - a process we call 'glossification' (Gewirtz, Ball & Bowe, 1995) - colour rather than black and white; promotion rather than information; pictures rather than text; and careful attention to style and production formats.
The 'Reformed Teacher'
Teachers are inscribed in these exercises in performativity, through the diligence with which they attempt to fulfil the new (and sometimes irreconcilable) imperatives of competition and target-achievement. Efficiency is asserted over ethics. The humanistic commitments of the substantive professional - the service ethic - are replaced by the teleological promiscuity of the technical professional - the manager. This shift in teacher consciousness and identity is underpinned and ramified by the introduction in teacher preparation of new forms of de-intellectualised, competence-based training. 'This is education deduced from supposed functional or instrumental requirements, not from personal, cultural or political ends' (Muller, 1998 p. 188) (See also Ryan, 1998)(6) . The trainee teacher is re-constructed as a technician rather than as a professional capable of critical judgement and reflection.
Within all this teachers have lost the possibility of claims to respect. They have been subject to a discourse of derision and can no longer 'speak for themselves' in the public debate about(7) education. Furthermore, the professional judgement of the teacher and the values of 'service' and the altruism which have underlain the work commitments of many teachers are displaced. Through surveillance of and comparison between individuals and teams, collegial relations are replaced by internal competition and new forms of commitment based upon corporate culture and survivalism. Survival in the educational market place becomes the new basis of common purpose - pragmatism and self-interest rather than professional judgement and ethics are the basis for new organisational language games. Within the 'enchanted workplace', 'administrative procedures should make individuals "want" what the system needs in order to perform well' (Lyotard, 1984 p. 62). This is achieved both through the development of programmes of corporate culture which require the allegiance of the teacher and by having teachers recognise and take responsibility for the relationship between their contribution to the competitiveness of their organisation and their security of employment.
What I am suggesting here is that the combination of market and performative reforms bites deep into the practice of teaching and into the teacher's soul - into the 'classroom life' and world of imagination (Egan, 1994) of the teacher - specific and diverse aspects of conduct are reworked and the locus of control over the selection of pedagogies and curricula is shifted. Classroom practice is increasingly 'made up' out of responses to changing external demands. Teachers are thought of and characterised in new ways; increasingly they are thought of as pedagogic technicians. What it means to be a teacher is fundamental reconstituted in all this.
Thus, a complex of overlapping, agonistic and antagonistic discourses swarm and seethe around the teacher in this scenario of reform. But they can be reduced, with some degree of simplification to two. One dominant and one currently very much subordinate (see for example, Fullan & Hargreaves, 1992 and Grimmett & Neufeld, 1994). The former encompasses the reformed teacher, or in Mclaughlin's terms the 'colonised' teacher, who is accountable, primarily oriented to performance indicators, competition and comparison and responsiveness etc.. Here cold calculation and extrinsic values predominate. This is the archetypal 'postmodern' teacher - defined by depthlessness, transparency and spectacle. Like the performative institution the 'reformed teacher' is conceived of as simply responsive to external requirements and specified targets; and to paraphrase Bernstein, we can ask; 'If the identity produced by [performativity] is socially 'empty', how does the actor recognise him/herself and others?' (1996 p.73). This is a teacher who is essentially inessential; who is 'not me' and 'not you'. The latter, the subordinate, is a very modernist discourse, and under-stated and under-valued discourse expressed in a very different register, which interpolates what we might call, the authentic teacher or (perhaps) re-oriented teacher, who absorbs but is not fundamental re-made by reform. The work of the 'authentic teacher' involves issues of moral purpose, emotional investment and political awareness, adeptness and acuity (Hargreaves, 1994 p.6). Authenticity is about teaching having an emotional heart (Woods, 1996) or as Hargreaves argues teaching is about desire, without desire, teaching becomes arid and empty. It loses its meaning' (Hargreaves, 1994 p. 12). Meaning is founded upon both a personal commitment - motivation - and a shared moral language. According to Charles Taylor 'authenticity... requires (i) openness to horizons of significance... and (ii) a self definition in dialogue (Taylor, 1991 p.66). Authentic teachers know where they stand in relation to a metaphorical field of self-governing discipline but do not necessarily stand still. This field provides a basis of reflection, dialogue and debate, it does not tell them what to do. It provides them with a language for thinking about what they do. They act within a set of dilemmas and messy confusions - to which there are often no satisfactory solutions. It is a matter of 'grappling with how to act morally in an uncertain and constantly changing educational context' (Grimmett & Neufeld, 1994 p.229). They struggle and compromise, plan and act spontaneously, and improvise within and across contradictory roles and expectations, creativity and imagination are important; 'the teacher herself is a resource in managing the problems of educational practice' (Lampert, 1985 p. 194)(8). Clearly, such language and imagery grate against the rational, grey, calculability of reform(9). Two very different chronotopics (to borrow Baktin's useful term) are in play here. The 'authentic' and 'reformed' classrooms are very different places to be, for the learner as much as for the teacher(10). They offer very different conceptions of learning. And oddly and paradoxically the 'reformed' classroom may be less well geared to the realities of contemporary economic life than the 'authentic'(10). I also want to be very clear here that the 'authentic' teacher is not simply the teacher as she was prior to reform. This is a different discourse of teaching not an old one. None the less I would also want to argue that current concerns relating to the low morale of teachers, and in some contexts the problem of under-recruitment into teaching, have their basis, in good part at least, in teachers' sense of having to 'give-up' their authentic commitments to and beliefs about teaching in the face of reform.
From my analysis of the processes of educational reform, it is difficult not to conclude that political enthusiasm for accountability and competition are threatening both to destroy the meaningfulness of 'authentic' teaching and profoundly change what it means 'to teach' and to be a teacher. The global trends of school improvement and effectiveness, performativity and management are working together to eliminate emotion and desire from teaching - rendering the teachers' soul transparent but empty. We may end up getting a lot more and a lot less than was expected when the current cycle of reform of education was begun.
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1. Thus, my concern here is not with geography but with a 'region' bound by a discursive field - a set of discursively constructed practices.
2. See also Langman who suggests that: 'If Nietzsche announced the death of God, Goffman's work announces the death of the soul, or at least the terms of its sale' (Langman, 1992) p. 65). In an argument that parallels Langman's lament for 'the corpse of decentred selfhood', I wail and gnash over the last flickers of the modernist 'heart of schooling', which does not know it is dying.
3. Although altogether there are 'a very large number of agencies using a variety of instruments to push and pull country policy and practice in often very different directions' (Deacon, Hulse & Stubbs, 1997) p. 22).`
4. Although it could be argued that these are replaced by the fable of 'the perfectly managed school' - the 'enchanted workplace'.
5. Indeed, the twin disciplines of competition and performativity also encourage schools to 'fabricate' themselves. Systems of calculability almost always lave latitude for presentational variation (Ball, 1997) (Ball, 1998).
6.Ryan notes that 'As professionalism is thus reconstituted [by the requirements of competency], the real problem-solving capacities of teachers would in fact be continuously diminished' (p. 108).
7. rather than 'for' or 'in' education.
8. As with schools teachers will also be positioned differently to resist the pressures of reform, or 'retain' an 'authentic' perspective.
9. The issue of language, and more generally of discourse, has probably never been more important in the field of education. Teacher educators and teachers themselves need to very very aware of the vocabularies in use when accounting for the act of teaching.
10. This perhaps begs the question as to whether we might find 'authentic' teachers in 'reformed' classrooms.
11. But that is another argument for another day!
This document was added to the Education-line database on 01 November 1999