NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ942041
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2006-Jun
Pages: 45
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 25
ISSN: ISSN-0013-1857
Deconstructing Discourses about "New 'Paradigms' of Teaching": A Foucaultian and Wittgensteinian Perspective
Stickney, Jeff
Educational Philosophy and Theory, v38 n3 p327-371 Jun 2006
Offering a cautionary tale about the abuses of paradigm-shift rhetoric in secondary school reforms, the paper shows potential misuses and ethical effects of the relativistic language-game in post-compulsory education. Those initiating the shift often shelter their reform from the criticism of non-adepts, marginalizing expert teachers that adhere to "antiquated" or "folk" pedagogies. The rhetoric herds educators uncritically into the citadel of new discourses and policies that often lack practical foundations; consequently, teachers often dissimulate compliance to the reform in order to evade surveillance within such disciplinary apparatuses as teacher training and regimes of inspection. Turning to Foucault, the author views education reforms in terms of power relations within a form of governance: "games of truth", or political and veridical discourses in which dividing practices for sorting out "sound" and "unsound" teaching practices become institutionalised. Wittgenstein's attention to initiate training in practices points to an alternative to naive forms of relativism; educators must incorporate the new techniques they gradually master and adapt within a viable, shared form of life. Instead of teachers' normalization and subjugation in what Foucault refers to as education "blocks", new pedagogic practices are better adopted "freely" as arts of self-transformation. With Hacking, Foucault and Wittgenstein's accounts of the true-and-false are blended into an "historical ontology" of present and emergent paradigms: a critique of the limits set down within education reforms that sanction or legitimize certain conduct. Sympathetic to the journal call, this kind of philosophical investigation and genealogical critique of teaching practices gives us a perspicuous view of the local, contingent and at times arbitrary nature of change initiatives. Critical awareness of how our pictures (models) of education can captivate us heightens respect for professional eclecticism. Without ignoring the mandates and official scripts of public education reforms, experienced educators need to be able to conserve their tried and warranted "best practices", while negotiating ranges of tolerance for alternative means.
Wiley-Blackwell. 350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148. Tel: 800-835-6770; Tel: 781-388-8598; Fax: 781-388-8232; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A