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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 149


149 Introduction The next three chapters that comprise Part IV present the empirical evi- dence of the study. The first two offer insight into the different layers of influence shaping teachers’ understanding of themselves as individuals and as members of various groups within communities. Importantly, too, these offer a framework for understanding the discursive space from and within which the teachers in the study are positioned and position them- selves, as well as from and within which sexuality and HIV/AIDS dis- courses are mediated and interpreted. These two chapters situate sub- jects as operating in a particular space and time and offer perspectives on the specificity of context as a critical indicator for the understanding of social identity, subject formation and social positioning. They anchor what follows in Chapter 11, namely, descriptions of practices that are embedded and situated in a specific discursive space from which sub- jects speak and act. What the following two chapters do is describe the textual landscape from and through which one might situate the group of teachers reported on in the study. They also serve to demonstrate that context is discursively constituted by structures and discourses that are only visible through their instantiation in the actions and daily practices of social actors. In the case of this study, this is exemplified in what hap- pens in classroom when teachers mediate sexuality and HIV/AIDS. I begin by developing a description of the contextual landscape in Chapter 9. Using the set of analytical tools gleaned from...

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