Teacher Education and Teaching as Struggling for the Soul: A Critical Ethnography, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Teacher Education and Teaching as Struggling for the Soul

A Critical Ethnography, 1st Edition

By Thomas S. Popkewitz


158 pages

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Hardback: 9781138205857
pub: 2017-06-30
eBook (VitalSource) : 9781315466057
pub: 2017-06-26
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Challenging conventional ways of thinking about school reforms and teacher education, this book analyses how the "knowledge systems" which organize how teachers’ observe, supervise, and evaluate children produces norms that have the effect of excluding children who are poor and of color. Building on Struggling for the Soul (1998), his original study of the day-to-day life of new teachers in the Teach for America program, Popkewitz delves deeper into how the teaching and learning practices of urban and rural schools. Applying an ethnographic focus to how difference and divisions are produced to exclude despite efforts to include, he explores the complexities of educational change and raises important questions about the politics of schooling, knowledge and power. This book provides an original way of thinking about ethnography through a critical post-foundational approach.

Conceptually focusing the ethnography of "the system of reason" that organizes teacher practices, the analysis offers a critical lens to understand the contemporary politics of school reform, the limits of teacher research, and suggests why current teacher and teacher education reforms may conserve the very conditions required for change. Beyond its relevance to U.S. schools, the conceptual and methodological resources of the book have relevance internationally, especially given the global important of education responding to cultural and social diversity through teacher and teacher education reforms.


"Once again Thomas Popkewitz forces us to ask questions about who we think we are and who we think the students we serve are. This notion of who we are is fundamental to how we organize schools, knowledge, and our social relations. How we do this organization (and re-organization) sets the landscape where we 'struggle for the soul'!"

--Gloria Ladson-Billings, Kellner Family Chair in Urban Education and Professor of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Wisconsin-Madison

"In world epistemological diverse in which the struggle for social and cognitive justice is facing severe challenges, Popketwitz’s rigorously revised critical ethnography Teacher Education and Teaching as Struggling For The Soul comes in a timely moment. Popkewitz’s phenomenal groundbreaking theories on epistemology, cosmopolitanism, politics, power, knowledge, society, and schooling critically examine how differences that inscribes differences, such as learning styles, aptitudes, achievement, at-risk, disadvantaged, ethnic and race, are produced through the everyday activities of schooling. A work of art, precision and clarity by one of the leading social scientists, this work has opened up the veins of the Western Eurocentric canon, challenging not just what ‘we’ think, but ‘how’ we think. In so doing, Popkewitz not only unpacks the production and exclusion of differences through a ‘specific’ system of reason that orders and classifies the ‘official’ praxis of education, but also pushes the debates around teacher education into a superior level—within and beyond the field—one that dares to engage in a ruthless critique of every existing episteme."

--Joao M. Paraskeva, Professor Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth

"This book is an indispensable companion for studying contemporary school reforms and specifically schools' capacities around inclusion and exclusion. Popkewitz shifts the focus away from a person-centered analysis to systems of reasoning and how reason shapes what is pedagogically possible and desirable. The originality of the scholarship catapults readers toward ideas and connections that are unthinkable without this book."

--Nancy Lesko, Teachers College, Columbia University, USA

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: Teacher Education as Making Different Kinds of People: Urban and Rural Education 2. The Practices of Teaching/Teacher Education and Struggling for the Soul 3. The Soul as the Achievement of Teaching: The Cultural Theses of the Urban and Rural Child 4. The Alchemies of Pedagogy: From Ethical Registers to Psychological Registers 5. The Wisdom of Teacher Practice as a Normalizing Technology 6. The Alchemy of School Subjects: Governing of Conduct and Making Difference 7. Struggling for the Soul, Inscribing Difference, and Teacher/Teacher Education Reforms 8. Afterwards: Methodology and Writing a Critical Ethnographic Narrative

About the Author

Thomas S. Popkewitz is Professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA.

About the Series

Routledge Cultural Studies in Knowledge, Curriculum, and Education

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
EDUCATION / Curricula
EDUCATION / Educational Policy & Reform / General