Performing for the students: Teaching identity and the pedagogical relationship

Journal of Philosophy of Education 42 (1):67-83 (2008)
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Abstract

Teacher identity is defined in its relations, on the one hand, to curriculum and, on the other, to students: to be identified as a teacher is to be taken by the latter as a bearer of the former. In this essay I consider some variations on theorising teacher identity within these relational terms. Beginning with the educational task of cultivating student subjects within the often impersonal aims of curriculum, I reject a correspondingly personalised production of teacher identity that would humanise education through the teacher's personality. Turning instead to the idea of a teaching role defined by institutional authority, I look at two perspectives from which the teacher's identity can be theorised as a matter of performing that role. Jane Gallop's performative definition of teaching highlights the teacher as a pre-existing role but is fundamentally concerned with the teacher's self-understanding, this fails, however the relational requirements of teaching. Ultimately, bringing performativity into the context of the transferential relation between teacher and student provided by Plato's Symposium , I argue that student desire produces teacher identity in response to the teacher's performed relation to truth.

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