Pedagogical and disciplinary positions in secondary English

Year: 1995

Author: Wright, Jan, Francis, Anne Cranny, Winser, Bill

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

At AARE in 1992, we presented a paper "The construction of teachers' subjectivities in secondary English" arising out of an ARC funded project designed to explain the differences in school success and failure of students from different social and cultural backgrounds.

This was a paper written very early in the project and based on the results of interviews with teachers at one school. The analysis of these interviews suggested that teachers were profoundly influenced by the emphasis on personal expression, both oral and written, that characterises the Leavisite and progressivist discourses which hae been widely described in the literature. This in turn it was argued provided teachers with few resources to explain or address differences in students' performances in English.

Three years and two more schools later the picture has become much more complex. In this paper we will attempt to demonstrate the complex and often contradictory mix of institutional discourses which inform teachers' practice in Secondary English, the 'messy reality' described by Ian Hunter (1994). Issues that will be taken up include the relationship between English as pedagogic practice and English as discipline; the production of 'good' subjects; and how discursive and material practices in secondary English contribute to students' 'success' in the subject.