encouraging the teacher-agent: resisting the neo-liberal culture in initial teacher education

rhiannon love


Influenced by Sachs’ (2001) ‘activist identity’ I propose that pre-service teacher education or initial teacher education (ITE), as I will refer to it, could, and indeed should, encourage a new form of teacher; the ‘teacher-agent.’  This teacher-agent would be aware of the pressures and dictates of the neo-liberal educational culture and its ensuing performative discourse, and choose to resist it, in favour of a more holistic view of education. This view of education encourages inclusive, creative and democratic forms of education concerned with encouraging a social conscience in children and young people, as well as seeing education as concerned with the whole child.  These more holistic approaches to education could include pedagogical approaches such as Philosophy for Children (P4C), Rights’ Respecting Education and Slow Pedagogy, which can not only provide a more balanced understanding and deeper experience of education for both teachers and pupils, but can also help teachers to resist the debilitating impact of the neo-liberal performative discourse, potentially also thus impacting on their wellbeing and ability to retain their integrity as professionals.  This may also have the potential to halt the rapid exodus of new teachers from the profession. It is my contention, that engaging with pedagogies such as P4C in this new iteration of ITE could help not only to encourage the Student Teacher-Agent, but also, as a consequence, develop the Citizen-Agent in the children they are teaching. In this paper I consider four key areas where I propose P4C could play a role in this alternative model of Initial Teacher Education; Democracy in action, the teacher as Teacher-Facilitator, a space for co-construction of knowledge, and encouraging Social Justice.


performativity; teacher identity; Philosophy for Children; student teachers; initial teacher education

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.12957/childphilo.2019.42658


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