Lovely literature': Teacher subjectivity and curriculum change

Year: 1997

Author: Beavis, Catherine

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

In this climate of new times, new managerialism, dwindling resources and assessment driven measures of efficiency, curriculum change is too often constructed as produced in policy documents and implemented in classrooms through the surveillance mechanisms of centrally monitored assessment. Yet curriculum change entails more than a reorganisation of the subject and mandated teaching and assessment practices. This paper takes the introduction of a new final year subject, VCE Literature, as an example of the ways in which curriculum change entails not just a reformulation of the subject, but also teachers' reconstruction of the subject and themselves as teachers of it. Based on a three year study of nine teacher's experience of the new course, the paper explores ways in which teachers were already positioned and constructed within existing discourses pertaining to the teaching of Literature, and how the introduction of the 'new' discourse of critical theory threatened old discourses and positionings, and challenged them to reconstruct their vision of the subject and their teaching selves. The paper considers the mutually constitutive relationship between curriculum change and teacher subjectivity, and explores the role of 'passion, pleasure and desire' in supporting or inhibiting curriculum change.