Teaching within and against the circle of privilege: reforming teachers, reforming schools
Journal of Education Policy
This paper argues that educators should learn from the emerging international evidence of failure over the past three decades of the neo-liberal education policy ensemble (Alexander, 2009; Darling-Hammond, 2010; Hursh, 2008; Lingard, 2010) . In the paper, I try to weave together a critique of neo-liberalism in education (drawing on the work of previous contributors to JEP among others) with an account of how certain types of people in certain types of communities are disadvantaged by what
... tly counts as education. I then look at how such processes of disadvantaging can possibly be turned around. The starting point for the argument is the unoriginal claim that schooling tends to privilege the culture and experience of mainly white, middle-class students and their families who occupy the normalized centre of what Choules (2007a) calls 'the circle of privilege', and who, like their teachers, tend to take existing social arrangements for granted. Despite the entrenched policy framework that seems to deny agency and push educators towards conservative, mandated educational practices, however, I show that some activist teachers continue to demonstrate that there are ways of working with schools, students, families and communities that can foster student engagement in powerful learning in the interests, particularly, of marginalised young people. The paper is an argument for asserting social and educational values within the education profession, for working with families and communities to provide better opportunities for young people, and to keep chipping away at the greater goal of achieving democratic schooling for social justice. It is about working in educational and political ways in schools and communities in the here-and-now to provide better recognition and opportunities for young people who are put at a disadvantage by the hardening of education policy, and by prevailing societal norms and power structures.