Identity – Identities

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So the conceptual framework for my PhD research is framed by the work of Foucault and I have been immersed in Foucault for some time now (every morning 8-9am to be precise).  Foucault has a permanent slot in my calendar and it would seem a permanent slot in my mind whilst I’m at work.

For someone that didn’t want to be known as a theorist or have any theories attributed to him, he certainly had a lot to say on power and control and how people are influenced by it.  This is of interest to me both personally and academically as I am bound into, and a part of educational discourse from an employee and student perspective.  There are expressions of power all around me and this has made me think more recently about how this shapes my work and personal identity.

I suppose thoughts about this started last summer when I attended a Doctoral study school.  There was a fairly innocuous workshop on time management and planning, little did I know the meaningful impact this would have on me and the thought processes that have continued to follow on from this after participating.  In the workshop we were individually asked to select as many coloured paper circles as we wanted and then write one thing or part of you on each circle that gets in the way of spending more time on studies.

I started with 5 circles and wrote on each what immediately came to mind: teaching, running a business, family, socialising, procrastination, social media, other studies.  I soon ran out of circles as I started to think of more and more things which were barriers or excuses as to why I wasn’t engaged with my PhD.  It was easy to see how I could do so much more if I got my priorities right.  But… this activity also got me thinking about who I am, I have so many identities (8 at the last count!) and who is control of these people inside me as most of the time it is not me.  Which brings me full circle to Foucault.

Foucault (2002) suggests that as humans we are not inherently free and are fenced in by social determinations.  These determinations exist with or without the individual, they are there, existing.  As a result of this, the self is a product of cross cutting discourses and practices and identity evolves in those that we are enmeshed in.  I am enmeshed in many discourses and practices which I previously considered as a whole but now this seems impossible.  Yes, I am one person, but I have many identities and this surely must impact on how I see myself and others view me.  Tied into this are the mechanics of power which operate independently, sometimes in unison, but mostly at odds and competing with each other.  As Layder (1996) rightly argues, the self is a fragmentary and multiple phenomenon that varies according to social circumstances, social position and unconscious forces’ (97).  So now I have a genuine reason for my ‘identities crises’ which I originally thought was only an identity crisis.

Following on from this, I am now aware of something I hadn’t realised before…  There’s only one of me but I am bound by many capillaries of power which operate alongside my multiple identities.  I am yet to discover the strongest identity in me but I am reassured by Foucault that power exists with or without me so I don’t have to worry too much about the exertion of power being only aimed at me!

I’d really like to know what you think about this in the comments below.

References

Foucault, M. (2002) Power: Essential works of Foucault 1954 – 1984, Volume 3.  London: Penguin Books Limited.

Layder, D. (1996) Understanding Social Theory.  London: Sage Publications.

 

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Education and business – the right mix?

A fantastic talk from Dan Pink about what motivates workers and illustrates how important it is to get the balance of monetary value and work right. This is particularly relevant with education being run as a business as the two rarely compliment each other and in many respects are detrimental to teaching and learning.

Another interesting aspect of this talk is the suggestion that praise and punishment are key motivators to elicit desired behaviour; it’s not as clear cut as it seems, particularly in a classroom setting.

Enjoy the video and let me know what you think.

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How could teaching become the foremost career in England?

A thought provoking piece considering how to raise the status of the teaching profession in the UK. It’s interesting that research indicates the public trust teachers almost unequivocally yet this does not reflect in practice where teachers appear to be demonised particularly through the media.

via How could teaching become the foremost career in England?.

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Why do so many teachers leave teaching?

Why do so many teachers leave teaching?.

An interesting piece from David Didau at the Learning Spy who contemplates the reasons why teachers leave teaching within the first five years of entering the profession.

As there is no hard evidence of exactly why they do leave in droves it would be an interesting piece to research for all you action researchers out there. Are there links to the de-professionalism of the role which acts as a demotivator and a route for escape or are teachers not adequately prepared for the role during their training and find the reality very different?

Let me know why you think teachers leave the profession, I’d be interested to hear.

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Teachers or media damaging the profession?

Romany Blythe

Image: http://www.thetimes.co.uk

I’d be interested to hear your opinions regarding teachers being involved in public displays to support membership of groups/parties.  There are several questions to consider regarding personal and professional life such as, is a teacher’s life private out of work or are the lines blurred when it comes to belonging to what the media and public may consider ‘undesirable groups’.  Under The Human Rights Act it is not unlawful to support or follow organisations unless it is causing distress or upset to others therefore where is the line drawn between highly individualised responses to public demonstration of support for groups/parties.

As a teacher myself I am often asked by students what I do outside of work as the public have perceptions of what a teacher should be doing which is very different to what we do away from work.  It would appear that the media seem to target particular professionals during reportage when there are a wide cross section of indviduals involved.

Let me know what you think, are the media damaging the teaching profession through biased reportage or are they providing an insight into the diverse membership of activist groups.

For more on this story see:

http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/politics/article3736379.ece

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Welcome to the debate

There’s so much in the news recently to encourage lively debate on education.  I look forward to hearing your levelled opinions on posts and I will be posting regularly on current educational issues and trends.

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