Performativity in teacher education in Ireland
In Ireland, while several studies find similar performativity issues education policymakers refer to a discourse of “exceptionalism,” underlining that bad policies in education happen elsewhere (Mooney Simmie et al., 2020). National pride as a country with a long Christian (largely Catholic) tradition in schooling underwrites teacher identities in Ireland as moral and apolitical
Remaining a student of teaching forever 25 practices, nowadays under-written using a new system of teacher obedience with externally imposed codes, rules, and new sets of laws (Teaching Council, 2016). This outside-in approach to teacher professionalism is new and is only introduced by the newly appointed Teaching Council in the last decade (the council itself only became a statutory body in 2006). Nowadays, a hard, tight, and strong system of rules, roles, responsibilities, codes, and sets of laws as a new system of juridification applies in all policies in teacher education. Moreover, eschewing politics from teaching keeps this discourse of “exceptionalism” in play, despite evidence to the contrary (Lynch, 2015; Mooney Simmie, Moles & O’Grady, 2019).
counterposcs moralities orientated towards ethics...(where there is a) strong dynamic element in so far as there exists a relative autonomy between a system of laws and the individual's ethical behaviour. Rather than conformity towards the law, the emphasis is on the formation of the relationship with the self and on the methods and techniques through which the relationship is worked out.......(in this case) the individual
is relatively free to interpret the spirit of the law in his/her own style, rather than conform to the exact letter of the law.
(McNay, 1992, p.53)
Teachers in Ireland across Europe and the OECD arc increasingly depicted in policy terms as acting with increased autonomy and agency for membership of a creative professional class engaged in self-study for primacy of the markets.With this new tight and strong focus on externally enforced moral codes and sets of laws in teacher education, it is hard to see the spaces and affordances for teacher identities for authentic agency, autonomy, and activism for the primacy of an emancipatory ethics (Brady, 2016, 2019; Mooney Simmie & Moles, 2019). While teacher regulation and accountability make sense, it is the “cruel optimism” inherent in the above reductionist global reform system of universalist identity that I am taking issue with here.
The discourse of “exceptionalism” in teacher identities in Ireland remains powerful enough to silence contrarian views and dissent. Reforms remain largely unquestioned and I-identitics, D-identities, and A-identities become more about how to praise and to faithfully implement reforms rather than questioning their underpinning rationale (Me Kcnna & Mooney Simmie, 2017; Mooney Simmie, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2020). Contrarian views are not only unwelcome within a cultural hegemony of “consensualism” but any tcacher/educator raising concerns becomes pathologized using systems of N-identitics: identified as somehow exhibiting a psychic deficit, such as teacher anxiety and stress levels, lack of resilience or simply lack of moral character and laziness, and/or overall unwillingness to change. Non-recognition protects the interests of the powerfill from any criticism that a neo-liberal/elite imaginary is at play in education policy and, at the same time,
secures the ethical suppression of teachers’ voices through clinical understandings of a universalist teacher identity (Brady, 2016, 2019 ; Edling & Mooney Simmie, 2017, 2020; Mooney Simmie & Edling, 2016, 2019).