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Performative Praxis

Teacher Identity and Teaching in the Context of HIV/AIDS

Mary Jean Baxen

It is widely recognized that the South African government’s exemplary HIV/AIDS education policy is not making the behaviour-changing impact that it ought. Why is this? What is actually happening in the school classroom?
In this book, Jean Baxen makes an important contribution towards understanding the complex interface between the HIV/AIDS education curriculum and what and how teachers are teaching in the classroom. Bringing Judith Butler’s theory of performativity to bear in an analysis of the pedagogic practice of a number of teachers in the Western Cape and Mpumalanga, the author shows how teachers’ personal conception of their role and identity as educators plays a vitally important role in filtering and shaping the classroom transmission of key information and attitudes.

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Introduction 91

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91 Introduction The epistemological orientation developed in Part 2 helps to focus what follows in the next three chapters, in which I examine (a) the limitations of dominant epistemological orientations and interpretations on selected research on teachers and teaching; (b) the limitations of dominant episte- mological orientations and discourses in influencing the understanding of and responses to HIV/AIDS; and (c) the limitations of dominant dis- courses and epistemological and methodological orientations in research- ing HIV/AIDS. Part 2 thus anchors this study epistemologically, methodo- logically, and analytically. Since the study sought to examine the nexus between teacher iden- tity and classroom practice particularly where teachers mediate know- ledge of sexuality and HIV/AIDS, it was important to briefly locate it within three fields of research, namely research on teachers and teach- ing practice, on sexuality and disease, and on teachers, sexuality and HIV/AIDS. The next three chapters, therefore, briefly review selected works in this regard. The conceptual and analytical framework developed in the preceding chapters furnished the perspective adopted in reviewing this work. Rather than a general review of the literature, the approach taken is one that highlights the limitations of dominant epistemological orientations that act as interpretive grids in examining teachers and their work, particularly their work in Lifeskills classrooms. Chapter 6 examines representations of teachers in teacher research, while Chapters 7 and 8 consider (a) ways in which dominant episte- mological frameworks and discourses of sexuality, disease and the poli- tics of the pandemic in South Africa shape popular constructions...

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