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Teacher Quality Beyond Measurability: a Connoisseurship and Criticism Approach
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Pedagogy and Learning. (Studies of Curriculum, Teaching and Evaluation (SITE))
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Education and Teacher's Practice. (Studies of Curriculum, Teaching and Evaluation (SITE))ORCID iD: 0000-0001-5554-6041
2018 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

For quite some time now the premises set up for teachers and teaching within the neo-liberal project, have been heavily criticized (e. g. Apple, 2008; Ball, 2003; Hopmann, 2008; Kliebard, 1995; Nordin, 2016; Wahlström, 2015). Following Tesar (2016) we argue that thinking policy and philosophy together can open up for new imaginaries, new futures for thinking quality in education. We argue that the American curriculum theorist Elliot Eisner (1979, 2002, 2005) and his concepts of connoisseurship and educational criticism is a constructive starting point for rethinking both teacher quality and policy.

 

The purpose of this paper is twofold. The first purpose involves a critical examination of the way ‘teacher quality’ is discursively constructed in transnational authoritative texts. The second purpose is to explore the possibilities of rethinking teacher quality as it is set out in a mainly neo-liberal setting, using the concepts of connoisseurship and educational criticism as productive means to explore alternative meanings, both regarding teacher quality and the character and potential of policy texts. The two research questions are: How can Eisner’s concepts of connoisseurship and educational criticism contribute to going beyond an agenda of teacher quality based on “evidence” and a dominating scientific efficiency approach? Drawing on Eisner (1979), how can a linking between philosophy and policy contribute to critically examining contemporary education policy texts by taking seriously the meaning of the term criticism as "reeducation of perception"? (Eisner 1976/2005; Dewey 1934).

 

We make use of Eisner’s’ idea of an ‘ecology of schooling’ in trying to understand educational reforms and their impact on educational practices. To think comprehensively about school reforms, Eisner (1992/2005) identifies five dimensions which one has to take into account. The first is the intentional aspect that refers to exploring the tension between conventional arguments for what the reform aims to. Secondly, the understanding of a reform needs to observe the consequences of the structural aspects of the reform. A third aspect is the possible changes of curriculum content. The fourth aspect is the pedagogical factor that is indispensable for the transformation from an intended to an operational curriculum. The fifth dimension of a reform, finally, is evaluation. The way assessment of students’ knowledge is defined directs what should count as knowledge in a subject and how teaching takes shape in the classroom.

 

In addition we make use of Eisner’s concept of educational connoisseurship as an alternative to technological approaches; instead of laws, professional judgments are taken as the basis for the quality of schooling (Biesta 2017).  A connoisseur ‘appreciates’ what she encounters; that is, a connoisseur is aware of and understands what is experienced. Appreciation in this context has to do with a genuine curiosity around shared interests (Hansen, 2017; Uhrmacher, et al., 2017). A necessary complement to connoisseurship is educational criticism. Eisner (1976/2005, p. 41) distinguishes between the two by pointing out the following difference. ”If connoisseurship is the art of appreciation, criticism is the art of disclosure”. The language of critics is a language where metaphors, suggestions and implications are important tools in order to help us see. Following Eisner, (1976/2005), educational criticism has to consider three interrelated aspects, a descriptive, an interpretative and an evaluative aspect of educational criticism. The descriptive aspect has to do with describing the qualities of an educational phenomenon, the interpretative aspect signifies the effort to understand the meaning various forms of action have for those involved, and the evaluative aspect, finally, asks the question: ‘What is the educational import or value of what is going on?’ (Eisner, 1976/2005, p. 44). Educational criticism directs attention to the qualitative aspects of schooling rather than the quantitative.

 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2018.
Keywords [en]
Education policy, teacher quality, Elliot Eisner, connoisseurship, criticism
National Category
Pedagogy
Research subject
Pedagogics and Educational Sciences, Education
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-77943OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-77943DiVA, id: diva2:1250261
Conference
Educational Research Conference, ECER, Bolzano, September 4-7, 2018.
Available from: 2018-09-22 Created: 2018-09-22 Last updated: 2019-05-22Bibliographically approved

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Nordin, AndreasWahlström, Ninni

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
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