28 SES 17, Development Narratives as a Common Good? Knowledge Constraints on ‘Public’ Voice in Historically Subaltern Spaces
Assumptions about the superiority of school effectiveness models in literature on classroom life and young people’s futures in developing countries are pervasive (Hanushek, 2013; Psacharopoulos, 2006). The ‘quality’ teacher is, I argue, a construct designed within the confines of ‘Northern’ hegemonic constraint and executed with neo- liberal intent. Yet, a child’s teacher, their classroom, their nation, and the translated remnants of history and power shape both the possibility of creative mobility for young people striving for more egalitarian horizons and the future agency and trajectories for the subaltern ‘public’ (Morris, 2010). By troubling narratives and imaginaries around ‘quality teaching’ and ‘Southern’ classrooms, I propose an alternate conceptual spatial model for viewing not only teachers and classroom space, but what Riceour would refer to as the ‘horizons of the possible’ for young people. I do this through critical ethnographic fieldwork in two sites, rural Tanzania and urban Pakistan. Both sites still embody, and remain entangled in, the legacies of post- colonial education practice, and feature heavily in development agendas prescribing ‘Northern’ routes to progress. Arguably, such spaces and the ‘subaltern’ classroom— which embodies complex traces of the nation state—are not static, essentialised or fixed. Rather, they represent a geography of power arrangements, which are politically charged, and hold sediments and traces of the nations, regions and spaces to which they are tied (Massey, 2005). I therefore away from extractive models of research to the critical sociological lenses of both an ethnographic method and hermeneutic interpretation. Drawing upon the data from both sites, which include long term observations, phenomenological interviews, and visual- anthropological, archival, and mapping methods, I argue that there is a silencing and infantalisation of both children and teachers in ‘Southern’ contexts to highlight the idea of development as a temporal ‘progressive’ move which honours ‘Northern’ actors (Massey, 2005). I examine what it means for education to be ‘public,’ what historical weight is carried by symbolically laden concepts such as ‘teacher quality,’ and the sociological complexities of children’s imagined worlds and futures as they are influenced and shaped by the local, national, and international forces around them. By positioning children and teachers, two groups who are arguably removed from agency in most top-down agendas, I posit a new theoretical and practical space to interrupt the binary flow of knowledge from ‘North’ to ‘South’ and better understand ‘public’ education in the ‘Global South’ as it functions in political and historical space.
Hanushek, E. A. (2013). Economic growth in developing countries: The role of human capital. Economics of Education Review, 37, 204–212. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.econedurev .2013.04.005 Massey, D. B. (2005). For space. London ; Thousand Oaks, Calif: SAGE. Morris, R. C., & Spivak, G. C. (Eds.). (2010). Can the subaltern speak?: reflections on the history of an idea. New York: Columbia University Press. Psacharopoulos, G. (2006). World Bank policy on education: A personal account. International Journal of Educational Development, 26(3), 329–338. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijedudev .2005.09.001
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