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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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12 Teacher performativity and classroom discourse 303

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303 12 Teacher performativity and classroom discourse In the introductory section of this book I put forward the argument that teaching sexuality and HIV/AIDS disrupts the practice in schools in par- ticular ways. I proposed that, in the main, schools privilege ‘mindful bodies’ with the chief goal being that of ensuring the academic success of learners. By and large, the functioning of schools depends on the ab- sence of a physical body and its sexed form, that is, its disappearance in a system of education that is most often presented as rational and aca- demic. For the most part, curriculum material is presented as possessing an internal logic and as that which, when presented, follows a rational linear pattern. The goals of teaching about sexuality and HIV/AIDS, how- ever, are different. They are put forward with the view to ensuring that the outcome leads to learners making informed decisions about their sexual practices; goals that invoke a body in its physical and sexual form. As a consequence, teaching about sexuality and HIV/AIDS also invokes aspects of teachers’ identities that are riven by contradictions. Teaching about sexuality and HIV/AIDS forces teachers to confront aspects of their identities in ways that animate the complexity of their lives and the dis- cursive spaces in and through which they make meaning of their indi- vidual and collective identities. The upshot of this, as the evidence in Chapter 10 illustrates, is a disruption in constructions of schools as ap- propriate spaces for the mediation of...

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