Foucault News

News and resources on French thinker Michel Foucault (1926-1984)

O’Brien, Peter C. (2017). The adaptive professional: Teachers, school leaders and ethical-governmental practices of (self-) formation. Educational Philosophy and Theory, Pages 1-15 | Published online: 16 Jun 2017

DOI: 10.1080/00131857.2017.1339585

This article analyses the relations that teachers and school leaders establish with themselves and with others—especially those who would seek to govern them—through the professional and personal–professional activities that increasingly accompany pedagogical and administrative practice today. Specifically, the article seeks to analyse the conditions under which such ‘ethical-governmental’ relations have become possible and to clarify the lines of power, truth and ethics that are in play within them. In this way, it is argued, their intelligibility may be recovered; their contingencies disclosed. The article first posits a non-psychologised, ‘enfolded’ notion of the self on which analysis rests before turning to an analytics of (self-) government of the conditions themselves. An important element within this entanglement of diverse events, discourses, practices and foldings is the ensemble of policies and practices developed by the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership. The article argues that the programmes of this national agency are a salient and widespread force for acting upon teachers’ and school leaders’ self-constitution as a subject of their own actions—a subject which, in consequence, is enjoined to be more agile, self-reliant, engaged and entrepreneurial than its ‘routine-bound’ predecessors; a subject we describe as the ‘adaptive professional’.

Keywords: Self, ethics, governmentality, neoliberalism, professional standards

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