Entangled histories of educational work

Year: 2016

Author: Seddon, Terri

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The idea of a ‘teacher-in-deficit’ is a persistent feature of political discourse in Australia and standardization has become the normal means of driving teacher improvement. Institutional ethnography offers a way of elaborating notions of ‘teachers’ work’ as a kind of ‘doing’ that is tensioned between the relations of ruling and experience in working life, but is it possible to intervene in debates about standardized teaching without also troubling notions of work, learning and labour? This paper uses the concept of ‘entangled history’ to understand the remaking of education and the labour of educating. I report on detailed empirical research that traced the reform of TAFE in Australia from the late 1980s to around 2010. Using a specific case of re-making a public sector TAFE workplace in Victoria, I outline how TAFE teachers navigated the relation of governing and experience through different forms of knowledge building practices. Tracing these entanglements between knowing and doing suggests how the space of education is remade as a surface for teachers’ work, and creates an emergent platform for educational politics. I argue that standardization of teaching is well known for its intended and unintended consequences but there may be value in thinking about ‘educational work’ as a place and politics of work and learning as a counter to this hugely expensive utopian fantasy.