13 SES 09, Is There a Need for the Rediscovery of Teaching?
Following the rise of naive and optimistic discourses on “efficient teaching”, the variety of education tasks performed by teachers are turning into a more technical work focused on getting “positive results” and “better outcomes”. The current proliferation of student performance assessment systems, as well as the generalization of national curriculum standards, is making teachers face hitherto unknown pressures. This logic of educational production, of which the “technification” of teaching is a necessary consequence, implies a noxious “instrumentalization” of the available elements for teachers to describe their work, and to embrace the educational elements of their teaching (such as showing to the student “grown-up ways of being in the world”). It is as if the teaching profession were being subjected to a progressive process of “alienation” of what their work means, where the teaching practices (what the teacher does) become a variable (important, but one variable more after all) within the great production function of the education system. This process of “teacher alienation” has been animated by a series of discursive practices that simplify what is at stake in the act of teaching. As education objectives and methods are already being set, the teachers’ critical skills and creative expertise become progressively suspended. This paper aims to offer a pedagogical analysis on the relevance that the practice of epistemic virtues actually has in the teaching activities. I will develop my reflections on this matter in three steps: first, the discussion about whether education may or may not be understood as a practice will be revisited; second, the image of teachers as “technical practitioners” will be challenged and an idea of teaching as a particular kind of craftsmanship will be proposed instead; and, third, an argument will be made for recognizing the practice of epistemic virtues involved in the act of teaching, being this an additional possible way for “giving teaching back to education”.
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