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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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10 Dominant factors shaping teachers’ subjective experiences 191


191 10 Dominant factors shaping teachers’ subjective experiences The previous chapter provided descriptions of the material and social conditions that act as discursive spaces in which this cohort of teachers make meaning of their lives. Drawing on in-depth interviews, what fol- lows here describes yet another layer of influence, namely, experiences shaping constructions of teacher identity. Initially, I set about developing narratives of each teacher, but this process proved too cumbersome to include in the final work. I opted instead for what I am calling collective narratives. The intention in Chapter 10 is to provide descriptions of the past and present experiences that serve as a backdrop to understanding teachers’ lives in relation to their work, particularly as Life Orientation teachers. I outline some of the dominant social and cultural practices that have influenced and continue to influence constructions of their teacher identity and, as the next chapter will describe, their subsequent classroom practice. It is important to describe these social and cultural practices since they are the resources teachers draw on to construct their identity as teachers. The questions this chapter responds to are: who are these teach- ers and what, in relation to their past and present lived experiences, shaped and continues to influence their individual and collective teacher identities? Put differently, I pose questions about how these teachers are positioned or are positioning themselves within a specifically South Afri- can HIV/AIDS hermeneutic space that was and still is deeply raced, classed and gendered. What rules and resources...

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