Teacher Professional Learning, Boss Texts and Everyday Utopia

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 11:10
Oral Presentation
Debra TALBOT, University of Sydney, Australia
Increasingly a suite of ‘boss’ texts, including highly prescriptive curriculum documents, professional standards, and accreditation frameworks, govern the work and professional learning of teachers internationally. For a group of Australian teachers really knowing that they had learned something about their work began as a response to the learning needs of the students in front of them at a particular time in a particular learning environment. None of the teachers ascribed their learning experience to the key ‘boss’ texts at play. In each case, the learning experience that had transformed their teaching work and for which they were able to provide evidence had occurred in another ‘space of possibility’. The space however, existed because of the local social relations that coordinated each teacher’s ‘actual doings’. Griffith and Smith (2014) assert that bringing these ‘spaces’ or ‘gaps’ into view is precisely the work of institutional ethnography at the front line of, in this case, teachers’ work.

Understanding how these ‘spaces’ might be retained and, indeed expanded, may require however, an understanding of the ‘utopic resistances’ (Gardiner, 2006) that gave rise to them in the first place. How were the governing texts activated within schools in a way that prevented them becoming an obligation enforced by political and economic forces, that becomes, “routinised… everydayness” (Lefebvre & Regulier, 1999, p. 8), stifling the sort of creativity demonstrated by teachers in this study that produced spaces for transformative learning? The onto-epistemological relationship between IE and notions of everyday utopia will be explored in this presentation.