Fall of the public teacher – discourse of intimacy and the teaching profession in Denmark
(2014) Research Papers in Education, 23 p. Article in Press.
This article reports on a case study conducted in a Danish municipality with 22 teachers as participants, in the context of a project focused on well-being and key educational competencies. The final aim was that of discovering how their ideal of the good teacher was verbalised. What is it that they thematise? How are thematisations created and maintained? The study is theoretically based on Richard Sennett’s notions on the private–public divide and Michel Foucault’s definitions of power and discourse. It focuses on the manners in which Danish teachers articulate a discourse in which words and phrases otherwise seen in connection with intimate relationships (close friends, sweethearts, parents and children) are prevalent. This shall be defined as a discourse of intimacy, the assumption being that this discourse has become the predominant way in which to talk about the good teacher. Furthermore, the article provides (a) a discussion about the ontology of intimacy; (b) a threefold typology of intimacy, namely confessional, emotional and relational, a categorisation that stems from the teachers’ statements and exchanges when discussing good performance; and (c) a reflection on the concept of mode of intimacy, used in this research to refer to the manner in which teachers put to practice their idea of the good teacher, which is mainly through praise and recognition.
case study; discourse analysis; forms of intimacy; schoolteachers