“I Love My Students”: Teachers' Work Identities, Emotions and Inequalities in the City of Buenos Aires (Argentina)

Tuesday, 12 July 2016
Location: Hörsaal 47 (Main Building)
Distributed Paper
Analia MEO, Consejo Nacional de Investigaaciones Cientificas y Tecnicas, Argentina, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina, University of Warwick, United Kingdom
During the last decade and a half, there has been a wide range of educational policies targeted at effectively including young people in secondary schools. This education level is compulsory in the City of Buenos Aires since 2002 and in Argentina since 2006. Despite different national and provincial policy initiatives, the democratization of the access to this educational level has been accompanied by persistent levels of drop out and educational failure. This paper examines interviews with teachers and field notes produced in different research projects carried out between 2012 and 2015 in two secondary schools in the City. Although these schools were created in different socio-institutional and policy contexts, they both aim at including students who have been “outside of secondary schooling” and belong to “poor” or “vulnerable families”. They also have authorities and teachers committed to promote students´ educational “inclusion”. Despite major differences in their academic organisation, size and institutional histories, there is a convergence of many teachers´ narratives around the personalisation of teaching, the recognition of students as “individuals” and the identification of “affect” as central aspects of their work identities. This paper looks at how “love” and “affect” have become a key aspect of many teachers´ identities. These sentiments are entangled with teachers´ and authorities´ concerns with promoting what I would call “a good life”, which refers to specific ways of interacting with others captured by the word “respect”. Following Sayer (2005), moral sentiments and emotions are useful to an examination of experiences of inequalities and symbolic domination. They are spontaneous evaluative judgements about how people are treated, and should be treated, by others. This paper explores how “love” is reworking the emotional geographies (Hargreaves 2001) of secondary school teaching and how it relates to the role of schooling in the production or challenge to social inequalities.