1st Edition

Teacher Education and the Political The power of negative thinking

By Matthew Clarke, Anne Phelan Copyright 2017
    160 Pages
    by Routledge

    160 Pages
    by Routledge

    Teacher Education and the Political is a striking book which addresses the nature and purpose of teacher education in a global context characterised by economic and political anxieties around declining productivity and social inclusion. These anxieties are manifested in recent policy developments such as the promotion of professional standards, the deregulation and marketisation of teacher education and the imposition of performance-related regimes that tie teachers’ pay to outcomes in high-stakes testing.

    The book assesses the implications of such policies for the work of teachers as well as for teacher educators and those undertaking initial teacher training. It is argued that these policy moves can be read as a depoliticising and de-intellectualising of teacher education. In this context, they illustrate how contemporary theory can provide a language for critiquing recent developments and imagining new trajectories for policy and practice in teacher education.

    Drawing on the work of theorists from Derrida and Mouffe to Agamben and Lacan, this book argues for the need to maintain a space for intellectual autonomy as a critical dimension of the ethico-political work of teachers. Together these ideas and analyses provide examples of the power of negative thinking, illustrating its capacity to unsettle comfortable truths and foreground the political nature of teacher education.

    Current teachers, teacher educators and school leaders will be particularly interested readers, alongside those concerned with policy in the wider educational landscape.

    1. On the power of negative thinking in and for teacher education: An introduction   2. Policy’s excess: professional alienation and sublimation 3. After Effects: Knowledge and impotentiality  4. Assuming subjectivity: Desire, ethics and agency  5. Tragic pursuits: Embracing pluralism and legitimising dissent  6. Conclusion: ‘Between the road of yes and the road of no'


    Matthew Clarke is Professor of Education in the School of Education at York St John University, UK.

    Anne Phelan is Professor in the Department of Curriculum and Pedagogy, in the Faculty of Education at The University of British Columbia, Canada.

    "In this impressive compelling book, Clarke and Phelan demonstrate the unlimited (im)potential of negative thinking in teacher education today.  Negating conjured crises, false consensus, standardized curriculum, and teaching as policy protocols, this book - like the Warburg library - is organised by affinities, allowing for the re-education of teachers toward ethical self-formation and political agency. See for yourself."

    William F. Pinar, Professor and Canada Research Chair, University of British Columbia, Vancouver

    "Too much recent writing by teacher educators about the state of their trade is irredeemably pessimistic and defeatist. While equally critical of the superficial 'positivity' of dominant reform discourses, this clever new book suggests that some forms of 'negative thinking', drawn from contemporary social theory, may actually help protect the progressive spaces that recent reforms are seeking to close down."

     —Geoff Whitty, Research Professor in Education, Bath Spa University