What the Foucault? – Outstanding Critical Ontology for Teachers!
Foucault describes the critical ontology of ourselves as a “philosophical life in which the critique of what we are is at one and the same time the historical analysis of the limits that are imposed on us and an experiment with the possibility of going beyond them”. I argue that this philosophical life is valid research activity for teachers and that, if we are to become a fully autonomous profession, we must understand the limits that are imposed on us and to seek out the possibilities of going beyond them. To this end, I cast a whimsical look at the way Teaching presents itself through the language of teaching vacancy adverts. I take particular issue with the prevalence and dominance of the notion that everything and everyone must be ‘outstanding’, whilst wondering whatever happened to Michael Whilshaw’s 2016 call for more “mavericks in the classroom and the headteacher’s office”. Finally, I suggest The Tweacher Society of #EduTwitter and Self Writing as offering experimental possibilities of going beyond the limits imposed on us.
steve is a teacher of English and Head of Years 7-9. He is also a doctoral researcher through the University of Birmingham; the working title of his thesis is ‘Rise of the Tweacher: towards a critical ontology of a teacher who tweets’. He is also a writer of naff sonnets and is a zombie, having died in 2014.
What the Foucault? – In defence of theory OR Whatever happened to Lesson Evaluations?
In the midst of the rising popularity of evidence informed practice, and the epistemological argy-bargy between #WhatWorks, #NoBestWay, and #JustTellThem, I seek to present an argument in favour of theory and ontology. I question the presumed authority and certainty of empirical scientific “method”, and challenge the “gold standard” of RCT, emphasising the value of qualitative research and self-research in the work of ‘the teacher’. I draw upon Foucault’s technologies of the self, particularly his Self-Writing as a model for reflective practice via engagement with Twitter and blogging.