What are standards, anyway?

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Whichever way standards are understood they are always concerned with ethics, that is with questions of: consequences, virtues and rights. The way Dunn frames the argument about standards above – episteme in contrast to metis closely echoes the way in which professional standards for post-16 teachers are most often talked about. The standards are criticised for the extent to which the imposition of abstract knowledge replaces the local situated knowledge of teachers with devastating consequences. This to-ing fro-ing is an almost inevitable aspects of ethics in practice. They are contentions, subject to experimentation and revision. This should not be dismissed as the slippy slidey nature of things concerned with the social. It is typical of the natural sciences as well. Standards for teachers are things in the making. They are not yet settled. Their political nature means they might never be settled.

In line with an ongoing ethical engagement with these standards, I want to experiment with their flexibility. Is it possible for a critical pedagogue to read them and find within them sufficient scope for a version of the world that is recognisable. That is, is it possible for a critical pedagogue to live within the consequences, virtues and rights implied by professional standards. What would happen if I engaged in ‘positive’ critique. That is, reading them and their affordances. What do they enable?

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