Re-thinking ways of being a teacher and doing an early childhood project: A critical examination of discourses and identities in early childhood policies and practice
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Kamenarac, O. (2021). Re-thinking ways of being a teacher and doing an early childhood project: A critical examination of discourses and identities in early childhood policies and practice. Presented at the Language and Society Conference, New Zelaand.
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/14132
The conference presentation draws on the author's recent study on how teacher professional identities have been re-constructed in response to shifting discourses in Aotearoa New Zealand early childhood (ECE) policies and practices (Kamenarac, 2019). Through the theoretical lens of feminist poststructuralists (Baxter, 2016; Weedon, 1997), it critically looks at the text of leading New Zealand ECE policies and interviews with early childhood teachers to examine the power of language as a constitutive force in producing particular ways of seeing the world (e.g. the purpose of ECE) and being a subject (i.e. a teacher, a child, a parent) in the world. The author employs a discourse-analysis approach (Bacchi, 2000; Gee, 2014; Kamenarac, 2019) to explore how meanings of the policy concepts, or, to put it another way, a translation of policy discourses, shifted in diverse institutional contexts, producing oppositional views of teachers' work, identities and relationships. By choosing consciously (or not) language and discourses to make sense of themselves and others, teachers positioned some groups of children and families as 'disempowered subjects', while construing themselves as 'catalysts for preventing vulnerability', narrowing views of the purpose of education in society. The author argues, to re-position themselves towards what it means to be advocate-activist teachers (Kamenarac, 2019b) and 'citizen scholars' (Giroux & Giroux, 2016) in the world, teachers need to critically look at discourses underpinning their ways of being and doing and deliberately construct identities and practices embedded in the ideas of socially just, democratic and equitable education and the world.
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