Identity management: Expectations and experiences of verbal conduct in school settings.

Year: 2018

Author: Downes, Lynn

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Schools are sites constructed as places for moral work in order to instill socially acceptable standards for future citizens. Educational institutions set boundaries in regard to acceptable parameters with regard to moral behaviours. However, teachers and school leaders are responsible and accountable for managing both institutional and social standards in regard to this moral work. According to education institutions, language conduct is one area that falls within the boundaries of moral work, especially with regard to swearing and taboo language. Societal language conduct is changing in the contemporary climate with more swearing and taboo language prevalent in everyday society and more youths swearing than previously documented. The aim of this presentation is to highlight findings from the study which explores how school leaders and teachers manage these language changes in secondary school environments, while communicating acceptable social and moral identities .  Using snowball sampling, nineteen school leaders and teachers from various secondary schools in the South East region of Queensland were interviewed. Foucault’s philosophy in regard to discourse, governmentality, morality and ethics underpin the study while Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) is employed as analytic tool. Key findings suggest that personal boundaries play an important role in identity management in these settings. Gender differences, various curriculum areas and consistency also have an impact on experiences, expectations and responses. The findings suggest that clearer boundaries are required, not only with policy, but also with personal expectations.