Subjectivities, discourses, and negotiations: a feminist poststructuralist analysis of women teachers in Taiwan
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The purpose of this study was to investigate the discursive construction of teacher subjectivity by mapping and complicating the normative discourses that dictate the im/possibility of what counts as a “good teacher” in Taiwan. This research employed the “new” postmodern ethnography and various methods of data collection, including archival documents, interviews, classroom and school observations, and a researcher’s journal. Data was analyzed using critical discourse analysis and thematic analysis. Feminist poststructuralist theories of identity, subject formation, agency, and teachers as a discursive category were used to inform analyses about the working of regulatory discourses on teacher identity and about teachers’ negotiations. This study juxtaposed competing discourses and historicized discourses as strategies to destabilize commonsense assumptions about the good teacher. The stories about teachers’ schoolgirl days were also gathered not only because there is a dearth of such stories that cut across Taiwan’s history from martial law to democratization but also because educational biography is assumed to be reproduced in teaching. This research found that the normative discourses of the “good teacher” include (1) Good teachers promise students high scores on examinations; (2) Good teachers are moral teachers; (3) Good teachers devote themselves to students; and (4) Good teachers strengthen the nation. Two transgressive discourses that arise from my analysis of archival texts include (1) Good teachers recognize students’ homosexual identities; and (2) Good teachers question the government’s educational policies. The researcher concluded that the “good teacher” should be better understood as a “normative ideal” (Young, 1990, p. 320) that designates what a teacher ought to be, but obscures the cultural and historical specificities of the identity category good teachers and excludes the excessive discourses and knowledge that teachers employ to live the identity called teacher. Implications for teacher-education curriculum are provided. The researcher also suggests implications for (1) the future research on teacher education; (2) the methodologies used to study teachers; and (3) the education and educational research in Taiwan.