Imagine (like) this: the work the representation of teachers' work does

Vick, Malcolm (2008) Imagine (like) this: the work the representation of teachers' work does. In: Proceedings of the 2008 Australian Teacher Education Association National Conference. pp. 362-374. From: Teacher Educators at Work: What works and where is the evidence?, 8-11 July 2008, Mudjimba, QLD, Australia.

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Visual representations can be seen in relation to two questions: how do they reflect particular views of their object of interest, and how do they work to constitute a repertoire of (verbal and visual) imagery that constitutes a key resource on which subjects may draw in imagining the nature or properties of the object. Through reference, allusion, the use of standard metaphors and tropes, such visual representations invite into play a range of other meanings. This array of meanings commonly comprises, and (re)constitutes what is often understood or referred to as ‘commonsense’, ‘everyday’ or ‘taken for granted’ meanings. The invocation of such meanings, and the ‘weight’ of such meanings, can be seen to powerfully shape subjects’ capacity to understand, and to shape courses of action on the basis of those understandings. In particular, it can be seen to limit their capacity to critique commonsense, to mobilise alternative meanings, and to imagine and enact practices that such critiques and alternative meanings might suggest.

Analysis of an array of selected visual representations of teachers’ work demonstrates the powerful and preponderant presence of representations of teachers’ work as deeply conservative, centred on the person/body of the teacher displaying the techniques for enacting teacher power and authority through talk and the use of the blackboard and such associated symbols as the positioning of the teacher at the centre of students’ gaze, the lectern and black/whiteboard, and cap and gown as symbols of knowledge authority. The selection includes representations from popular media (film and soap opera), commercial technologies (windows clipart), and professional self representations.

The paper suggests that such conservative representations of teachers and teachers’ work have a tenacious hold on both established educational professionals and pre-service teachers. It argues that such representations are highly problematic for the sort of progressive transformation of professional practice implicitly valorised in this conference. It suggests that our own complicity in such conservative representations is even more acutely problematic, and opens up questions about our own self- representational practices. It suggests that a transformation of our own self representations might be a critical condition of transformations of other aspects of our practices that might work better than the outcomes of our efforts suggest that our present practices do.

Item ID: 7747
Item Type: Conference Item (Research - E1)
ISBN: 978-0-9775685-1-2
Keywords: history of education; teachers' work; visual representation; teacher education; normalisation; performativity
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Date Deposited: 27 Jan 2010 23:20
FoR Codes: 22 PHILOSOPHY AND RELIGIOUS STUDIES > 2202 History and Philosophy of Specific Fields > 220202 History and Philosophy of Education @ 100%
SEO Codes: 93 EDUCATION AND TRAINING > 9399 Other Education and Training > 939999 Education and Training not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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