chapter  14
24 Pages

Agency as a form of discursive practice: A classroom scene observed

ByBRONWYN DAVIES

The major task undertaken in this chapter is a theoretical one, that is to develop a workable definition of the concept of agency. I have several reasons for undertaking this task. One is to address the issues raised by Walkerdine and Lucey (1989) who argue that the ideal of individual freedom or agency is a middle class, liberal humanist sham. They argue that middle class mothers, in teaching their children to desire the ‘right things’ and to believe that they are genuinely choosing on the basis of their own individual, personal desires, in fact make them less free, since they are unaware of the way in which their ‘own’ patterns of desire are socially constituted. This argument has serious implications for classroom practice where teachers follow many of the same patterns and hold many of the same beliefs as Walkerdine and Lucey’s middle class mothers. If teachers are teaching children to be less free in the name of individual freedom, then the ideals of progressive and open education are seriously in need of examination.