Care, hope and resistance: Reshaping teacher professional learning for inclusive education

Nicola Cull, Aidan Cai, Donna Heemi, Divna Dokmanovic


This paper explores the transformative possibilities of drawing on a ‘pedagogical methodology’ (Burke, Crozier & Misiaszek, 2017) in working for inclusive education through professional learning in schools. Our paper discusses how corporate management models, neoliberal education standardisation and test-based accountability impact on teacher status, professional identity and feelings of trust and autonomy. Writing from our perspective, that is, of four Australian school teachers who are all committed to educational equity, we deconstruct how the ‘professional teacher’ is being framed as the ‘rational man’ (Coole, 1993; Walkerdine & Lucey, 1989). We discuss the latter concept and examine how it leads to particular forms of technical and instrumentalised professional learning. Then, drawing on critical, feminist and post-structuralist perspectives and theory, we explore how a critical and reflexive approach to professional learning enabled us to glimpse the possibility of a professional learning process which is both generative and potentially transformative for teachers as they create a space of resistance against hegemonic neoliberal assumptions. Our methodological approach involved Freirean notions of dialogue and praxis to interrogate our own practices and assumptions concerned with notions of ‘capability’ and ‘misrecognition’. From our reflections and insights, we hope to contribute concepts that might be helpful for improving teacher professional learning and reinforce recognition of teacher expertise because of the unique effect teachers have on students and their engagement with education. This is especially important to students in disadvantaged areas, and, in broader terms, for widening participation of equity groups in education.


teacher professional learning; care work; pedagogical methodology; widening participation; inclusive education

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Banner image: Kira Jovanovski (2020), movement score 01 (detail): oil stick and acrylic on paper. Photograph by Kira Jovanovski. Cover image: Kira Jovanovski (2020), grunt_iteration 02 in the boughs and stamped: installation in University Gallery. Photograph by Jedidiah Cranfield. (c) the artist.





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