01 SES 02 A, Developing Professional Identity
Parallel Paper Session
The aim of this paper is to discuss teacher identity formation in relation to the ongoing marketization of the Swedish educational system (Goodson & Lindblad, 2011) through the lens of teachers’ life stories of a school close-down in a local school market. A common theme in overviews of research on teacher identity is the difficulty to pin down a clear understanding of teacher identity (Beuchamp and Thomas, 2009; Rodgers and Scott, 2008; Beijaard, Meijer, and Verloop, 2004). In their review of research on teacher professional identity, Beijaard, Meijer, and Verloop (2004, p 113) noted an overemphasis of the personal and “an underestimation of the contextual side” of teacher identity. We argue that the workings of local school markets are important contexts for teacher identity formation in Sweden today.
The process of the global restructuring of national educational systems that gained momentum in Sweden in the 1990s, involved the introduction of a school voucher system, competition mechanisms and the decentralization of responsibilities to schools and teachers (Löfgren, 2012). Typically the Swedish system before 1990 was dominated by a strong state government of schools and teaching profession including detailed regulations through national curricula and syllabi (Lundahl, 2005). One way in which processes of marketization affect teachers’ lives is the closing-down of public compulsory schools that don’t stand up in the competition for students. The school close-downs are mainly due to low birth-rates during the 1990s, the depopulation of rural communities and the establishment of privately run schools.
We wish to contribute to the fields of research on teacher identity formation by looking at local school markets in general and one school close-down in particular as important contexts for teacher identity formation. The life stories of compulsory school teachers with experiences from a specific school setting and close-down is the lens through which we study this.
Beijaard, Douwe; Meijer, Pauline C. & Verloop, Nico (2004). Reconsidering research on teachers’ professional identity. Teaching and Teacher Education, 20(2), 107-128. Beauchamp, Catherine & Thomas, Lynn (2009). Understanding teacher identity: An overview of issues in the literature and implications for teacher education. Cambridge Journal of Education, 39(2), 175-189. Goodson, Ivor F. & Sikes, Pat (2001). Life history research in educational settings: Learning from lives. Buckingham: Open University Press. Goodson, Ivor F. & Lindblad, Sverker (2011). (Eds.). Professional knowledge and educational restructuring in Europe. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers. Linde, Charlotte (2009). Working the past: Narrative and institutional memory. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. Lundahl, Lisbeth (2005). A matter of self-governance and control: The reconstruction of Swedish education policy: 1980-2003. European Education, 1(37), 10-25. Löfgren, Håkan (2012). It is not in the walls: Professional identities in teachers’ stories about school and work (Karlstad University Studies, 2012:1). Dissertation, Karlstad: Karlstad University.
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