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Title: Illusio in lesson observation : making policy work by playing the game
Author: Pleasance, Sasha
ISNI:       0000 0004 7651 3662
Awarding Body: University of Plymouth
Current Institution: University of Plymouth
Date of Award: 2018
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Lesson observation is an established part of teachers' professional lives within a rational policy discourse which problematises teaching. The problematisation of teaching in official documentation and pronouncements has shaped understanding and experience of teachers' professional work. By approaching this study from a constructionist perspective, and employing the What's the Problem Represented to be? (WPR) approach developed by Bacchi (2009) to examine policy-as-discourse, it is possible interrogate the role of policy in making problems, and their solutions, in very specific ways. The innovative combining of the work of Bacchi with Bourdieu's sociological lens, in particular his concept of illusio, has enabled this research to examine the investment teachers make in the practice of lesson observation and to offer an interpretative rendering of 'how it is possible for "what is said" to be "sayable"' (Foucault 1991:59, cited in Bacchi and Goodwin, 2016:36 original emphasis). The contribution to knowledge within this empirical study is in the articulation of a vocabulary of motives used by participants to make meaning of why they play the game of lesson observation and, through this, an analysis of how policy work is done in a further education (FE) context. This research finds that by playing the game, teachers and observers are, in effect, making the policy work, which in turn produces the forms of objects which have been constructed through the representation of teaching as a 'problem' in official policy; 'outstanding teacher'; 'best practice'; 'effective teaching'; 'learning outcomes'. The reification of these objects within teachers' professional lives has created taken-for- granted realities which enable the binary of professional development and performance management to make sense. Furthermore, the research reveals how, in making the policy work, teachers are in fact doing the work of policy by enacting the objective entities constituted by evidence-based 'best practice' in their teaching. Interpretation of the empirical data contributes new knowledge by proposing that teaching has become represented as a 'problem' of learning within official policy discourse and that this has created a world where learning is a duty for both teachers and learners. The thesis concludes with the recommendation put forward by participants for a democratic and collaborative system of peer review to replace the current system of lesson observation. However, this recommendation is still within the parameters of rational policy narrative in its presupposition that teachers need to improve. The thesis, therefore, recommends debate about what 'development' might mean in the context of FE.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: illusio ; social capital ; misrecognition ; symbolic violence ; field ; habitus ; problematisation ; policy-as-discourse ; What's The Problem Represented to be? (WPR)