Towards a theory of the devolved teacher

Year: 2002

Author: Hattam, Robert

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

There has been a shift in these new times towards understanding the politics of teachers' work in terms of a productive theory of power. Simply put, in the case of schools and teachers, the state implements its policy imperatives through getting at the soul of teachers. Teachers, like their students, are involved in identity work, in and around the prevailing policy discourses. In this paper I want to ponder how teachers engage in identity work around what it means to be a 'good teacher'. Given that local school management is the only game in town, then teachers have little choice but to construct themselves as the devolved teacher. But as this paper outlines, the devolved teacher is multiple and historical, and finds ways to work with and against the tendency of contemporary policy that implicitly aims at dumbing-down the profession, enforcing compliance, and bifurcating the ethical questions from practice.