23 SES 03 D, Policy Reforms and Teacher Professionalism (Part 2)
Paper Session: continued from 23 SES 02 D, to be continued in 23 SES 04 D
In the name of education quality terms such as teacher professionalism and professionalization have become popular in the educational context. It is assumed that instruments - common in reforms around the world - such as professional standards or competencies lists are likely to promote professionalism. Thus, one can speak of a teacher of quality when it satisfies sets of pre-determined expectations. In view of these purposes new forms of governing have become central to organise education. They rely on the development of forms of accountability that are different from the traditional, bureaucratic forms (e.g. coordination based on procedures, rules, and formal reporting). New forms of accountability are often imbued in what is called “managerialism” which requires people to operate in line with targets, planning and what involves systems of monitoring and performance reporting (Ball, 2008; Olssen et al., 2004). Moreover, the assumption here is that these forms of accountability imply not only control through external evaluation but also promote a disposition from the side of those who are held accountable (Ball, 2003; Ranson, 2003). This paper wants to contribute to the development of research on accountability in education by explicitly focusing on the promotion of self-government of teachers and hence complementing the literature on accountability as external control. Self-government will be approached form the viewpoint of “subjectivation.” Drawing on Foucault, subjectivation is framed as a process that “renders the self intelligible as a certain subject and leads to a particular kind of self-government” (Simons and Hodgson, 2012, p. 22). Based on an understanding of the accountability regime in Ecuadorian education, this paper focuses on the promoted forms of self-government and related processes of subjectivation so as to understand the kind of teacher being promoted through accountability instruments developed at the government level. For the framework to understand subjectivation, Foucault’s work on ethics is useful since it provides a tool to understand the process in four aspects: 1) the “substance”, which refers to the thing to be governed, the part of ourselves and of our behaviour (“materiality drenched with thought”) on what one has to work (e.g. feelings, desires, body) (Dean, 1996; Foucault, 1994; Hacking, 2002). Simons and Hodgson (2012) for example, identify “competences” as the “substance” that is promoted to be worked upon in European discourses on citizenship. 2) The mode of subjectivation concerns “the rule” to which someone submits as part of one’s self-government. Different forms of rules, and hence different modes of submission are possible for example, moral codes, virtues, laws, calculative logic, etc. In sum, the mode of subjectivation refers to something to which someone submits herself to as part of self-government 3). The “governing work” refers to the means to work on the “substance,” and what is done in relation to the substance in order to change, improve, etc. 4) The “telos” refers to the goal, and can refer to the immediate and long term goal. For Foucault, the activities through which one works on the self can be done in view of following rules (of good conduct for example), but also (in certain Christian practices) preparing for the life after dead, or just in view of being a virtuous person or an excellent professional. Based on an analysis of the promoted form of self-government and the implied mode of subjectivation along these lines, the paper wants 1) to capture a picture of the kind of teacher being promoted in the current accountability regime in Ecuador, and 2) to discuss on the promoted form of teachers’ subjectivity in confrontation with trends of teachers self-understanding in Europe.
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