Performativity and affectivity: Lesson observations in England's Further Education colleges
Edgington, U. (2013). Performativity and affectivity: Lesson observations in England’s Further Education colleges. Management in Education, 27(4), 138–145. http://doi.org/10.1177/0892020613485533
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/8908
Teaching and learning observations (TLOs) are used in educational environments worldwide to measure and improve quality and support professional development. TLOs can be positive, for teachers who enjoy opportunities to ‘perform’ their craft and/or engage in professional dialogue. However, if this crucial, collaborative developmental element is missing, a TLO becomes intrinsically evaluative in nature and creates complex emotions – within and beyond the classroom. For some teachers, affective reactions to perceived managerial intrusion into their professional space has a negative impact on them, and in turn, their students’ learning. International research on TLOs has focused on schools or universities. My research centres specifically on England’s Further Education colleges (FE). Through Interpretive Interactionism, I investigate the different expectations, relationships and identities of teachers and (mis)conceptions of ‘authenticity’ in TLOs. Teaching involves our unique (dis)embodied ‘performativity’ (Butler, 2004) or ‘emotional practice’ which is interpreted and judged by others (Denzin, 1989). Using the concept of ‘aesthetic labour’ (Witz, et al., 2003), I argue that rather than promoting positive transformation through reflection, TLOs promote a rejection of emotional ‘genuineness’ that causes anxiety through a fracturing of personal and professional identities. Improving the effectiveness of TLOs should perhaps encompass explicit dialogue about the affectivity involved in the process?
This is an author’s accepted version of an article published in the journal: Management in Education. © 2014 Sage.
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