Contested Sites in Education

The Quest for the Public Intellectual, Identity and Service

by Karen Ragoonaden (Volume editor)
©2015 Textbook VIII, 134 Pages
Series: Critical Education and Ethics, Volume 6


Emerging from the contested site of a new university campus, educators reflect upon the transformative process of reconceptualising and rebuilding a faculty of education in the twenty-first century. Contested Sites in Education seeks to improve an understanding of and conversations about the nature, meaning and significance of higher education’s public service within the scope of a democratic society. This volume offers educators and students a praxis-oriented, hope-infused, contemplative approach to conceiving, developing and in some cases, returning to public service and public identity in the twenty-first century. Contested Sites in Education will prepare future leaders who thoroughly understand, consciously apply and intentionally use democracy, selfknowledge, cultural knowledge, habits of mind, reflective learning communities and advocacy in their professional lives.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the editor
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • Introduction: Ethical Teacher Dilemmas in a Neoliberal Age
  • Chapter One: Setting the Path Toward Emancipatory Practices: Professor of Teaching
  • Chapter Two: Dwelling Artfully in the Academy: Walking on Precarious Ground
  • Chapter Three: Ideology, Performativity, and the University
  • Chapter Four: Living and Working in a Global Space: Liminality Within an Academic Life
  • Chapter Five: Performativity in the Academy: Negotiating Ambition, Desire, and the Demands of Femininity
  • Chapter Six: On the Educational Value of Philosophical Ethics: A Reflection on the Problem of “Relevance” in Teacher Education
  • Chapter Seven: Developing Mindful Teacher Leader Identities in Higher Education
  • Chapter Eight: Academic Identity Within Contested Spaces of a University in Transition
  • Contributors
  • References
  • Index
  • Series index


← viii | 1 → Introduction

Ethical Teacher Dilemmas in a Neoliberal Age


Emerging from the confines of an academic institution in transition from a college to a university, this book offers provocative insights into the impact of change on the sense of agency and the ensuing consequences on the personal and professional identities of seven academics at various stages of their career. Recognizing the serious debate surrounding the raison d’être of higher education (Christensen & Eyring, 2011; Emberley, 1996), this volume explores how faculty members wrestled with the inherent tension of the corporatization of the university ensconced in research intensive mandates and the challenge of fulfilling their formative mission: to develop intellectual and cultural resources to prepare themselves and their students for lives of significance and responsibility (Sullivan & Rosin, 2008). As members of a Faculty of Education, the authors were responsible for preparing educators for the profession of teaching and accountable to the accreditation standards established by the governing bodies of education. Consequently as scholar practitioners, their research agenda was often field based and applied, and as public intellectuals they strove to influence change and direction in policy and practice in the profession. Yet, despite their professional and ethical commitments to their students and to education, the pervasive neo-liberal agenda with its emphasis on productivity and accountability for research output significantly affected the culture and nature of work of academics, particularly those who have not yet attained the security and perceived increased academic freedom that comes with tenure.

← 1 | 2 → With heightened attention to the performance measures that merit tenure and promotion and the deep-rooted anxiety and insecurity this creates regarding what counts as meritorious work, these academics strove to make a difference in society and in schooling by engaging in projects that befit society as a whole. Cognizant of higher education’s public purpose and service in a democratic society, these narrative inquiries coupled with research-based initiatives encourage a reassessment of presumptions and assumptions about the nature and value of an academic’s professional and scholastic engagement. These profiles alternately present images of success and failure encountered by sessional, tenure-track, and tenured colleagues as they navigate the detritus left by market-driven forces. Within this context, university educators are positioned as committed agents of change, advocating for public policies and practices that benefit the students they serve, their colleagues, and the communities they live in to build a more just, inclusive, democratic community. Higher education, particularly Faculties of Education, can be forums where university educators practice institutional, cultural, and political innovations by teaching students to deconstruct the reproduction of meanings of individual success, competitiveness, egotistic desires, sexism, and racism that emerge out of dominant ideology and worldviews. By promoting transformative paradigms in Faculties of Education, the narrative inquiries and research initiatives offer the possibility to examine the inherent and inherited social constructs of a professional faculty caught in the flux of tradition, modernity, postmodernity, alternate views of higher education, engagement, and commitment.

Culminating in critical reflections about teaching, research, and service, the aim of this chronicle is to empower educators as they progress toward intellectual autonomy, able to emancipate themselves from the embedded educational status quo and the looming shackles of performativity. By sharing their stories, these pedagogues bring a heightened awareness to the struggle to maintain academic freedom and the right to pursue research that is in the public interest and to contribute new knowledge to the profession. From these records, we come to understand how the demands for performativity reflected in the quest for high teaching scores, funded research, and peer-reviewed publications have a profound impact on the kinds of research worth doing, turning academics away from their mission as public intellectuals and transformative scholars into instrumental cogs in the corporate machine of a research-intensive institution. In the pursuit of tenure and promotion, these colleagues share their reluctance to be innovative, to engage in research on the margins, and to challenge the authority of the dominant norms of what constitutes being a successful academic.

Written with courage and conviction, the following chapters offer brief glimpses into the lived experiences of early-career, mid-career, and senior scholars. In keeping with their engaged and committed approach to teaching and learning, the authors deconstruct patterns of alienation, oppression, and discrimination ← 2 | 3 → experienced in professional contexts. They decry the inherent competition, the inherited focus on individualism, and the intrinsic self-promotion of the contemporary professor of education. These educators emphasize that practice and praxis including curriculum must be reconceptualized as a platform for active negotiation, for knowledge mobilization, and for knowledge construction. To do so, teacher educators must shoulder the responsibility for collegial governance by contesting the measures used to determine meritorious academic work. Furthermore, these academics need to situate the moral imperative of their work as teacher educators by recognizing their impact factor, particularly as scholar-practitioners and public intellectuals. Reminiscent of Kanpol’s (2010) call for reform in higher education infused with a moral imperative, the following paragraphs offer a brief overview of the main tenets of the authors’ work.

In “Setting the Path Toward Emancipatory Practices: Professor of Teaching,” Karen Ragoonaden reflects on the transformative process of reconceptualizing the pathway to a tenured academic position to include the traditional academic research stream as well as a valued teaching stream. She shares her experiences of being one of the first faculty members in the university to seek tenure in the newly conceived Professor of Teaching stream. Hired into an institution that was formerly a university college (with a focus on teaching) in the process of becoming a research university, Ragoonaden found that this organization did not have the benefit of established processes, resources, and parameters for conceptualizing and supporting young academics to develop robust programs of research. The tenure clock ticking, this assistant professor made the prudent decision to choose the newly developed Professor of Teaching stream. The novel rank reflected the commitment of the university to recognize the importance of teaching, equating it with research. Those seeking tenure in this stream were expected to provide educational leadership and curriculum innovation in the sphere of higher education. Her story reflects the challenges of seeking tenure in a stream that existed in policy, but which had not yet been tested in practice. As the pioneer for this stream, she encountered challenges by human resources, senior administration, and her tenured colleagues as to what constitutes the meritorious work of this stream, how it should be supported and measured, and what it means to be a Professor of Teaching in an institution striving to be research intensive. Her story reflects her experience of the disintegration of her personal and professional identity, and experiences of otherness and marginalization in her pursuit of being a scholar practitioner within the emergent Professor of Teaching stream.


VIII, 134
ISBN (Softcover)
ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2015 (July)
Public service Democracy Cultural knowledge Learning communities Higher education
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2015. 134 pp.

Biographical notes

Karen Ragoonaden (Volume editor)

Karen Ragoonaden is a faculty member of education at the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan Campus. Her publications and research interests lie in the areas of scholarship on teaching and learning, French education, and diversity pedagogy. Her most recent articles focus on intercultural communication competence, critical pedagogy and selfstudy of teacher and teacher education practices.


Title: Contested Sites in Education
book preview page numper 1
book preview page numper 2
book preview page numper 3
book preview page numper 4
book preview page numper 5
book preview page numper 6
book preview page numper 7
book preview page numper 8
book preview page numper 9
book preview page numper 10
book preview page numper 11
book preview page numper 12
book preview page numper 13
book preview page numper 14
book preview page numper 15
book preview page numper 16
book preview page numper 17
book preview page numper 18
book preview page numper 19
book preview page numper 20
book preview page numper 21
book preview page numper 22
book preview page numper 23
book preview page numper 24
book preview page numper 25
book preview page numper 26
book preview page numper 27
book preview page numper 28
book preview page numper 29
146 pages