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Reconsidering the Presuppositions of the Student-Teacher Selection Process - A Series of Philosophical Investigations

Day, Richard Michael (2022) Reconsidering the Presuppositions of the Student-Teacher Selection Process - A Series of Philosophical Investigations. Doctoral thesis, York St John University.

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The Student Teacher selection interview is grounded in a deterministic and reductionist view of teachers and teaching. It attempts to construct statements of judgement about the professional suitability of prospective teachers based on delineated sets of hermetically sealed, abstract teacher attributes and associated demonstrable processes. Via a series of philosophical investigations, I attempt to elucidate interactions between multiple vectors of activity which reveal the intersecting processes of language, thought, and being a teacher. I express doubt in the reliability of any attribution of character traits and in presuppositions that these can be expressed as predictive of behaviour in ways that are consistent across variations in situation and everyday practice. This traceable genetic blueprint is representative of modernity's desire for unitary, totalising truths, stability and system. It classifies and grades and in doing so assumes its authority. Its attempt at rational analysis seeks to predict and in so doing to ultimately control the profession. This excludes moral complexity, ambiguity and contingency within the process, and places a limit on possibility. I propose that our mistake is to construe Being-a-Teacher as consisting mental substances, innate capacities of thought, which determine the physical actions of the teacher. Methods of interview presuppose that those private tendencies are made observable ‘out loud’. The narrative this error constructs, of a simplified way of speaking about cognition and behaviour, of naïve self-conceptions, of subjectivity and consciousness is only a partial description and conceals more than it discloses. Above all it resists easy inscription into a common language, the primary mode of delivery and interpretation at interview. The meaning-cargos of propositions at interview are problematic. Like the candidate themselves, their language has no fixed essence, but instead consists in a teeming sea of language games. I propose dispositional constructs in understanding teacher behaviour are therefore unnecessary and unreliable.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Status: Published
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1025-1050.75 Teaching (Principles and practice)
School/Department: School of Education, Language and Psychology
URI: https://ray.yorksj.ac.uk/id/eprint/8063

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