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Regulatory Discourses in Education

A Lacanian perspective

Tony Brown, Dennis Atkinson and Janice England

This book employs Lacanian psychoanalysis to develop new ways of understanding educational domains. It analyses events, practices and policies that occur in school classrooms, teacher education and higher-degree studies including educational research. It provides an accessible introduction, description and analysis of those aspects of Lacan’s work concerned with language, identity and subjectivity directly relevant to the field of education.
Regulative discourses and practices in education are a central concern and the authors demonstrate how Lacanian theory empowers our understanding of how such discourses are instrumental in forming teacher and researcher identities. The book also shows how regulatory practices and discourses are relevant to research methodologies that arise in the field of action research in education.

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Part Three Conceptualising Practitioner Research 157

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Part Three Conceptualising Practitioner Research I always speak the truth. Not the whole truth, because there’s no way, to say it all. Saying is literally impossible: words fail. Yet it’s through this very impossibility that the truth holds onto the real (Lacan, 1990, p. 3). Lacan’s psychoanalysis has taught us that when we learn to speak we lose touch with our organic nature. As a result we are neither mind nor matter and try to imagine ourselves as caught between these two spheres. The stories we tell may seek to tell the truth, and for Lacan they do always ‘speak the truth’, yet this truth is the truth of desire (Lacan, 2005), but a desire that constantly mistakes its objects (cf. Day, 2005, p. iv). Our words always reveal more than they say. The individual person is caught between mind, as expressed in words, and the material body. For Lacan, this cannot be resolved. How might such an understanding of self development inform practitioner research where a teacher endeavours to know his or her self better with view to developing and realising professional aspirations? Practitioner research has often been predicated on personal development. Yet we may ask what conception of the person has been implicated in such work? Do we cast this person engaged in personal development as a physical/biological entity or as an effect of discourse? This difficulty in locating the subject has been encountered earlier in this book in attempts to mediate between two alternative models of the...

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