The impact of the 'advanced skill' discourse on teachers' work

Year: 1996

Author: Shacklock, Geoff, Hattam, Rob, Smyth, John

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This paper examines the introduction of the advanced skills teacher classification and its possible affect on how the work of experienced classroom teachers is articulated and defended in official and collegiate spaces. The specification of criteria for recognition of advanced teaching can be considered a pedagogical exercise that constructs a vision of how the work of experienced classroom practitioners connects with educational policy. It is argued that this involves the purposeful selection of certain skills, abilities and dispositions above others and that the translation of the work of advanced teachers into written performance indicators privileges a written discourse of skill over the oral discourse traditionally preferred by teachers. The resultant technical-rational articulation of advanced teaching skills in generic criteria permits the discussion of teaching skills to be separated from classroom experience and repositioned within policy frameworks. It is argued that official discourses on advanced teaching encoded in written forms simultaneously enable and disable competing conceptions of how experienced teachers should work. Furthermore, it is considered that the interconnection of policy and skill discourses about teaching may be lead to new forms of control over teachers' work. In arguing the case, the paper draws upon evidence from a research project into the introduction of the AST scheme into schools in Australia.