Troubling Discourses in Teacher Education: Reading Knowledge, Reflection, and Inclusion Through Excessive Moments
Smyth, Rosanna Sharon
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While sorting through my experiences as a student teacher, my research question has shifted from “How can teacher education be improved?” to “How is teacher education represented?” I am interested in the juxtaposition of these two inquiries, and use them not to suggest pedagogical rules, but to draw attention to the kinds of spaces such a juxtaposition opens up. The shift in my research question is influenced by the discursive turn—the movement from social justice theories to poststructuralist theories, from theories based on experience to theories based on discourse. Questions of representation are the focus not only of poststructuralist theories but also of psychoanalytic theories, or theories of the unconscious, and both theories acknowledge that representations of reality are excessive: they contain more and less than that which they represent (Orner et al., 2005). The concept of excess enables me to make sense of moments in my teacher education program that could not be contained by dominant educational discourses of knowledge, reflection, and inclusion. The excessiveness of a teaching strategy called the Six Thinking Hats troubles the theory/practice binary in discourses of knowledge. The excessiveness of an assignment about philosophies of teaching, and a class discussion in response to the film Submission trouble the enlightenment/ignorance binary in discourses of reflection. And, the excessiveness of my attempt to question curricular content troubles the normal/exceptional binary in discourses of inclusion. I use excessive moments from my teacher education program to question existing discourses, and to suggest that we need to change the stories we tell ourselves about education (King, 2003). Our current educational discourses perpetuate histories of violence that we have inherited, and I suggest that social justice, poststructuralist, and psychoanalytic theories will enable us to more effectively heal from these inherited histories.
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