Talking about education: Exploring the significance of teachers’ talk for teacher agency

Gert Biesta*, Mark Priestley, Sarah Robinson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The interest in teachers’ discourses and vocabularies has for a long time been studied under the rubric of knowledge, most notably teachers’ professional knowledge. This interest can be traced back to Shulman’s distinction between different kinds of teacher knowledge and Schwab’s interest in the role of practical reasoning and judgement in teaching. Within the research, a distinction can be found between a more narrow approach that focuses on teachers’ propositional or theoretical knowledge and a more encompassing approach in which teachers’ knowledge is not only the knowledge for teachers generated elsewhere, but also the knowledge of teachers. This is the ‘stock of knowledge’ gained from a range of sources and experiences, including teachers’ ongoing engagement with the practice of teaching itself. In this paper, we focus on the role of teachers’ talk in their achievement of agency. We explore how, in what way and to what extent such talk helps or hinders teachers in exerting control over and giving direction to their everyday practices, bearing in mind that such practices are not just the outcome of teachers’ judgements and actions, but are also shaped by the structures and cultures within which teachers work.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)38-54
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Curriculum Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2017

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • teacher knowledge
  • teachers’ vocabularies
  • teachers’ talk
  • teacher professionalism
  • teacher agency


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