The Gender of Accountability

Thursday, 14 July 2016: 11:00
Location: Hörsaal 11 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Miranda CHRISTOU, University of Cyprus, Cyprus
In this paper I use feminist theories of the ethics of care (Tronto 1989) in order to analyze the gendered implications of educational accountability policies. Accountability is a term shaped both by moral reasoning and the methods of financial accounting (Strathern, 2000). Although educational accountability is a desirable quality, it has become problematic through the equation of good practice with high test scores and financial efficiency. This focus on teachers’ performativity at a global level has redefined teachers’ time through the lens of test results and ignores the fact that teaching is not simply instruction but also the labor of care that cannot always be measured. Feminist perspectives on teaching and the ethics of care have discussed the invisibility of teachers’ and especially women’s labor in the classroom (Acker, 1995; Vogt, 2002). I point out that, in this process, the political dimension of care (care as necessary for survival, care as a commodity, care as work) is replaced with a notion of care as a ‘natural’ psychological state of women. Within accountability policies, care practices are rendered un-measurable, neglectable and even punishable. I argue that, although the concept of educational accountability implies good practice, it has moved away from a relational definition of responsibility which involves active agents (whose responsibility? to whom?), towards a mechanical process of auditing. This new globalized version of educational accountability has ritualized an abstracted notion of responsibility that is not only unrelated to learning but it also fosters indifference towards learning.