Teacher Identity and the Neoliberal Condition: Asserting a Participative-Professional, Socially Democratic Teacher Imaginary in Technical-Managerial Times
AbstractDrawing on extensive ethnographic research in disadvantaged communities, the paper describes the effects of 30 years of neoliberal education policy on the teaching profession. I describe the type of teacher identity that is promoted by neoliberal discourse, and which is doing damage to countless young people, as ‘technical-managerial’. Teachers are expected to be effective instructors but educational ideas and democratic values are largely missing from this view of teaching, which is strongly aligned with individual, institutional and national economic competition. I distinguish this restricted perspective from a more engaged, relational type that I describe as ‘participative-professional’. Within this latter perspective, teachers would be engaged, critically reflective practitioners - active participants in educational and organizational politics and policy and well as pedagogy. I conclude that teachers must strive to assert participative-professional teacher identities in order to restore notions of social justice to the moral purpose of education.
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