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IDEOLOGIES AND PRACTICES by A.

Stikhin

My recent efforts to determine how teaching ideology and practices are connected made me think that ideology as a form of group thinking (in our case a professional group) that include a membership (who we are, what we look like), activities (what we do, what is expected of us), goals (why we do it), values and norms (what our main values are), positions and group-relations (who our enemies and opponents are, who are like us, who are different) (Dijk, 1998) and practices that are being developed by teaching communities have a vast range of interactive patterns and there is hardly a simple straightforward answer to the question of how they are interacting. One thing is obvious: there is a connection, teaching practices do have something to do with prevailing ideologies, even if this dependence or interdependence may not be immediately palpable. My initial research interest: what local practices puzzle immigrant teachers and, in its turn, what newcomers' practices local teachers find puzzling, and unacceptable and inadmissible and why. I am inclined to attribute differences in practices to differences in ideologies of teachers as professional group and as a part of general public. It is obvious that there is no direct connection between ideologies and teaching practices. D.T. Hansen (Hansen, 2007) claims that practices are not really developed by teachers but “embraced” and "accepted" by them. But it is obvious that practices, no matter how slowly, do evolve and they are being developed and the reasoning for selecting (if they are readily available) or designing them is undoubtedly being controlled by what ideology teachers and the society that authorizes them share. Even if a range of practices is already functioning teachers choose to embrace teaching routines depending on their personal preferences, which are shaped by their beliefs. Initial data derived from several interviews and my own observations of immigrant teaching practices in Finland revealed one aspect of immigrant teaching practices that can become a starting point for a deeper analysis the practice-ideology dichotomy. At the first approach, one particular manner of classroom interaction common among teachers outside Finland and the reaction of Finnish students and teachers to this manner appeared both puzzling and insightful.

The practice of “calling on students” and making them recite, reproduce some material, demonstrate how they completed their homework assignments in front of the class or standing and facing the teacher was met with disapproval and open resistance from Finnish students and teachers. As a representative of the immigrant teacher cohort and a person with a long and various experience in teaching and schooling outside Finland the above described manner of conducting a class never attracted my attention as inadequate. It never, up until now, seemed puzzling or inadmissible. Many a teacher in Russia, England or the USA would agree that “calling on” is quite a common way of keeping students alert, an acceptable way of everyday assessment and a handy tool of control. True, this practice easily gives away the conservative nature of such a manner of schooling and its ideological underpinning. This teaching style also shows that control and authority have high standings on the priority list of these schooling systems. Control and authority are embedded in the prevailing teaching

. Learner-centered forms of teaching. The social control described by Dewey (Dewey. I am convinced that teachers do not have esoteric ideological positions (Strike. 1997) is not hidden and caramelized. especially. Is this manner of assessment and activation characteristic of one archetypal form of teaching that Reinsmith (Reinsmith. If we ask ourselves what beliefs. so what elements of ideology are really at work here and how they intervene? Following Dijk (Dijke.ideology. This “calling on” is often conducted at random and should appear unbiased and unpredictable. and this procedure is fully controlled by the teacher. we may conclude that this practice where teacher is considered the only source of knowledge. 2007). In this case teachers may have different political views and visions of ideal social order but this teaching ideology aims to preserve or improve the current social order. then teachers are more likely to embrace this practice. The everyday realism and pragmatism considers true knowledge about the world to be a tool of improving living conditions and society. the teacher here is the only authority. Social and cultural capital therefore is supposed to improve life. postindustrial society does not allow learners to see any skills valuable and usable for life. patriarchal form of ideology. If society accepts this symbolic form of control. That is why these practices employed by immigrant teachers prompt resistance among students who are used principally different teacher-student relations and interactions. The way knowledge is passed over to the young and the assumed nature of knowledge as being final and unquestionable reveals traces of positivistic philosophy. 1992) classifies as “teacher-centered”. against one's will. Calling on students by name is a mode of interaction with a group of students where an individual is singled out. knowledge. which shared by teachers and supported by other social groups. This situation with the high level of control and symbolic violence is remindful of Foucauldian concept of violence. which is tolerated if it is hidden. 1998) we can conclude that ideology incorporates beliefs. learner-centered modes create practices where teacher’s full control is considered inadmissible. which put the teacher in the position where her role is mechanical. If ideology is an important factor here. Allowing human agency to play a more important role in learning. where students are deprived of freedom and initiative originates in some conservative. In this form of ideology knowledge is not considered final. the teacher-learner mode presuppose post-modernistic and relativistic approach to learning and knowledge. philosophy and esthetics of time and society. The main assumption of this ideology is that society is not perfect because of imperfections in schooling: if every student learn what is known and how to be an appropriate member of the society then social and material life of individuals will improve considerably. If this is masked and softened by the teacher’s friendly manner and a well-established rapport between the teacher and student it may not be seen as a form of violence. Reinsmith’s detailed and well-grounded classification does not directly refer to ideological foundations of these forms of teaching but makes the teacher’s role in this classification a major criterion. With this manner of teaching the value of human agency is reduced to zero. knowledge and philosophy stand behind the above mentioned practice.

351-356. … The Learner mode (Reinsmith) makes learning system-free. the state pays me for making humans out of you and I am an honest person so you will be forced to learn and then you will decide what to do with that.A. Good students are presumed to be prepared.V. pp. . New York: Greenwood Press. (1992) Archetypal Forms in Teaching: A Continuum. A. Reinsmith. New York: Touchstone. while in the former mode it is ever present. There may be more to this than that Reference Dewey. In a university context. (2007) Is Teaching a Profession: How Would We Know? In: Curren R. (ed. (ed. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing. (1997) Experience and Education. Strike. J.) Philosophy of Education: An Anthology. (1998) Ideology: a multidisciplinary approach. K. and the ones that are not ready wait for their sentence because the verdict has been reached and being silently read. T. D.For us it means that forms of teaching and the corresponding practices do include an aspect of selection. Dijk. London: SAGE publications. In: Curren R. leaving no space of flexibility. a university teacher retorted: “this is not a school and they are not schoolchildren”. taxpayers cough their money . pp. practices are selected from a continuum? … while teacher-centered learning deprives the learning process of both teacher’s and student’s agencies. the agenda that is handed down by society is to be found later. W.) Philosophy of Education: An Anthology.T (2007) Understanding Students. Hansen. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing. The freedom of choice is … if the came they must learn by not doing so they violate others rights. 175-187.