Knowing how to feel about the Other? Student teachers, and the contingent role of embodiments in educational inequalities

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Authors

  • S. O’Brien
  • F. Long
  • P.F. Conway
  • R. Murphy
  • K. Hall

Colleges, School and Institutes

Abstract

This paper explores affective dimensions to the positioning of teachers within persistent educational inequalities. Drawing on Sara Ahmed's concept of "affective economies", we argue that inequalities are not maintained through how teachers and student teachers "feel about" "different" students per se. Rather, the very possibility of becoming a particular subject and object of feeling is itself already part of the production of learner differences and inequalities. We examine how affects circulate to shape particular objects (e.g. a teacher's physical body) and collective attachments to particular signs (e.g. "the national teaching body"). We argue that contemporary changes to Irish and European teacher education policy reinforce rather than question educational inequalities. They produce and align "shock" at student underachievement with teachers' physical and collective bodies, while "sympathetically" responsibilising teachers to professionalise in order to cope with or compensate for persistently "different" and/or underachieving students. To explain how this process is lived and resisted, an analysis of interviews with our own student teachers explores how the affective economy which constitutes teacher education may become contingently directed in socially just or unjust ways.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)203-223
Number of pages21
JournalPedagogy, Culture and Society
Volume23
Issue number2
Early online date28 Nov 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Keywords

  • student teachers, policy sympathy, affect, embodiment, inequality, teacher education