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Keynote Talk by Professor Matthew Clarke ( York St John University): The subordination of teacher identity: Ethical risks and potential lines of flight

An event hosted by the Michel Foucault Study Group & the Educational Policy, Societies and Change Research Group

Event details

The subordination of teacher identity: Ethical risks and potential lines of flight

Professor Matthew Clarke (York St John University)

This paper is set against the backdrop of the increasing grip of the neoliberal-neoconservative nexus on education policy and practice in England – a situation which serves as a portent for other countries travelling down, but less further along, the same road. The first part of the paper, drawing on interview data with teachers in academies in England, highlights the extraordinary degrees of performatively-oriented pressure and authoritarian constraints that are placed upon teachers in certain schools, suggesting that schools remain domains of security, as much, if not more, as domains of pedagogy. This concern for the security of the institution and its population aims to minimise, if not eliminate, risks to the institution yet in so doing it creates risks, specifically ethical ones, for the professionals working within it. The second part of the paper identifies three specific ethical risks to the professional identities of teachers arising from the current policy context, which I characterise as complicity, containment and conventionality. In response to these risks, I suggest how notions, drawn from contemporary critical thinkers, Simon Forti, Adriana Cavarero and Mari Ruti, of friction, inclination and singularity, may offer resources for resistance against ethical colonisation by the neoliberal-neoconservative nexus. I suggest engaging with friction, inclination and singularity are risks we should take, not because they will ‘fix’ education in the technocratic sense of neoliberal-neoconservative educational discourse, but because each of them, like any genuine risk, remains open to its own failure, and in this way is meaningfully and precisely educational.


About the Speaker

Professor Matthew Clarke is a Professor of Education at York St John University.  Previously, he has taught and researched at UNSW, Australia, the University of Hong Kong, the Higher Colleges of Technology, United Arab Emirates, and the University of Melbourne, Australia.

His research is focussed in educational policy, and he has published in leading international journals, is internationally recognised as contributing to a new interdisciplinary field that brings together political and psychoanalytic theory to provide novel and significant critical insights into global policy issues in education and teacher education.


This lecture will also be streamed live, please contact the event organiser for the online meeting link and password. 

Professor Matthew Clarke


EMS Building G18 & Online