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(De/Re)-constructing teachers and their work : a discourse analysis of British Columbia's 21st-century policy agenda

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Title: (De/Re)-constructing teachers and their work : a discourse analysis of British Columbia's 21st-century policy agenda
Author: Steeves, Cory
Degree Master of Arts - MA
Program Cross-Faculty Inquiry in Education
Copyright Date: 2012
Publicly Available in cIRcle 2012-12-12
Abstract: This study made use of content and discourse analysis to critically examine how the ideas of ‘good teaching’ and ‘good teachers’ were developed and used within the policy-document A Vision for 21st Century Education. Released in 2010 by British Columbia’s Premier’s Technology Council, A Vision for 21st Century Education is a localized policy that attempts to re-imagine key features of teachers and their work in ways that are consistent with the goals of the larger 21st-century policy agenda currently circulating the world. Through my use of content and discourse analysis, I show how A Vision for 21st Century Education promotes a vision of schooling that is largely a neoliberal and managerialist enterprise that relegates teachers and teaching to subordinate roles within processes of policy development and policy implementation. The study identifies two prominent discourses within A Vision for 21st Century Education: ‘learnification’ translates and reduces public education to terms of ‘learners’ and ‘learning,’ and ‘accountingization’ re-imagines teachers’ work as ‘that which can be counted.’ I take care to show how these discourses (i) are developed within the text through genre and style, modalization and passivation; and (ii) subordinate teachers beneath the values of policy makers. I argue that this relative devaluation of teachers and their work provides a basis for increased school conflicts, contributes to elevated stress among teachers, and may encourage teacher ‘burnout.’ As a point of contrast, I sketch an alternative vision of the role of teachers’ work that is grounded in democratic values and practices.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2429/43675
Scholarly Level: Graduate

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