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Being a Teacher: Towards an Existentialist Account

Brady, Alison Mary; (2020) Being a Teacher: Towards an Existentialist Account. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Against the current grain of teacher accountability, this thesis aims to reconceptualise how we might account for teaching through an engagement with Jean-Paul Sartre’s early existentialist thought. In Part I, I will begin by situating the issue in relation to school self-evaluation policy in the Republic of Ireland. This policy exemplifies three connected fallacies in accounting for the practices of teaching – firstly, the perceived need to balance accountability and autonomy; secondly, the focus on building capacities for the use of communication norms couched within the language of effectiveness; and thirdly, the emphasis on a reductive understanding of ‘evidence’ in such accounts. Above all, these fallacies portray teaching as a ‘technicist’ endeavour and are ultimately based on problematic assumptions about the experience of being a teacher. Part II turns to the demanding account of being a human in Sartre’s thought. Here, it is argued that the classroom serves as a microcosm where many of these ideas can be explored. By paying close attention to everyday examples of teaching, I aim to build upon Sartre’s key concepts related to the self, freedom, bad faith, and the Other, such that they might open up new ways of thinking about the practices of teaching. Part III considers how to account for teaching in light of this. Since so much of teacher accountability is embedded within the paradigm of ‘effectiveness’, the current focus is often on how to measure or ‘prove’ our accounts of teaching in neat, accurate forms. But given the everyday complexities that underpin teaching, as well as the vulnerabilities and uncertainty that it so often involves, I argue for the creation of a space in which to reimagine forms of accounting that move from technicist ways of thinking to existential sensitivity in relation to one’s practice as a teacher.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Being a Teacher: Towards an Existentialist Account
Event: UCL Institute of Education
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2021. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Education, Practice and Society
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10118002
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