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On the Offensive

By Karen Stollznow

On the Offensive " This book sheds light on the derogatory phrases, insults, slurs, stereotypes, tropes and more that make up linguistic discrimination. Each chapter addresses a different area of prejudice: race and ethnicity; gender identity; sexuality; religion; health and disability; physical appearance; and age."

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Dissertation Information

Title: Teachers' 'Knowledge' and Curriculum Change: A critical study of teachers' exploratory discourse in a Chinese University Add Dissertation
Author: Zongjie Wu Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: Lancaster University, BA programmes in Language and Linguistics
Completed in: 2002
Linguistic Subfield(s): Applied Linguistics;
Director(s): Norman Fairclough
Dick Allwright

Abstract: This dissertation is an investigation of a teacher initiated curriculum change that happened at Zhejiang Teachers’ University, China, with a particular focus on the reconstruction of teachers’ personal understanding through their exploratory practice. The investigation started from a narrative inquiry into the participants’ personal experience of the change, which explored the experiential meanings of their endeavour to show how they reclaim the authority of their own stories within a shifting landscape that was filled with sacred and covered stories. The narrative was then penetrated using activity theory as a further step to understand the teachers’ learning process in terms of a developmental zone. The trajectory of the practice is explicated by analysing the interrelationship between identity, knowledge, institutional structure and communities of practice, with special attention paid to the emergence of the new curriculum object. The analysis shows that the curriculum change takes the form of ‘expansive formation’ where teachers’ understanding of the new object precedes their consciousness, which gives a fresh view to the episteme of non-institutional change action. For a better understanding of the discursive facet of the change process, the study took a further attempt to see the curriculum practice as a macrogenre and staff meetings as networked social practices. The former was made in order to understand the reconstruction of curriculum rationality. It was recognised that the particular pedagogical discourse is shaped through recombining and mixing various disembedded genres dispersed in the network of social practices. The dynamics of curriculum practice lie in its recontextualization process in relation to the participants’ social life. The analysis of three meeting texts gives a critical overview of discourse change in contemporary Chinese society, which specifically reveals the meaning of the curriculum innovation in terms of power stake for redrawing teachers’ professional discourse, but generally offers an understanding of the role of language in constructing people’s knowledge. Drawing upon the implications of the study, it is argued that teacher research and curriculum development could be undertaken in the form of Heidegger’s marginal social practices against a background of lifeworld as a way to nourish authentic understanding and to resist the domination of the discourse of modernity.

The thesis is an interdisciplinary study which draws upon various contemporary social theories: Fairclough’s critical discourse analysis, Habermas’ theory of communicative action, Engeström’s activity theory, Bhaskar’s critical realism and Clandinin & Connelly’s narrative inquiry. In terms of methodology, the study adopts a philosophy of critical realism, in which the research object is ontologically interpreted as three strata of reality, i.e. experience, event and structure. With this concern, I developed an approach combining three analytical strategies, i.e. narrative inquiry, activity theory and critical discourse analysis; each is oriented to understanding a particular level (mode) of social reality. A special attempt was made to formulate a framework of explanatory critique, which was set to investigate the networked social practices through the analysis of actual text.

Key words: teacher knowledge, curriculum change, critical realism, genre, activity theory, critical discourse analysis, narrative inquiry, exploratory practice