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Smart teachers as updatable software: A genealogical examination of teacher subjectivity in the era of technology

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

  • Sejin Lee
Publication date1/11/2021
Number of pages238
Awarding Institution
  • Lancaster University
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Teachers nowadays are expected to be fluent in using technology that would ‘work like magic’ in their classrooms. It would be very unwise for teachers to publicly criticise the value of digital technologies where the governments around the world put enormous efforts to innovate their education by implementing education technology reforms. In this context, this research elucidates the formation of a specific teacher subjectivity at this specific historical juncture to rethink what we are seeing as the smart teacher. As a research method, this study employs a ‘genealogy’ which enables to examine rules, norms, and knowledge of contemporary discourses about ‘SMART education’, an education technology initiative in South Korea. To identify what the target discourses produce, this paper uses ‘four-part Foucauldian framework’ to demonstrate the constructed teacher subject: 1) What aspects of teachers needed to change (substance), 2) For what reason should this change happen (mode), 3) What are teachers supposed to do to change themselves (the regimen), 4) What a model or perfect version of teacher might look like (telos). In order to appreciate each axis, I analyse public documents (e.g. national policies, research reports, news articles), and interview transcripts with the detailed analytical tools provided by Fairclough (2003). I argue that the ‘smart teacher’ is positioned as ‘updatable software’ which is to be thoroughly, constantly, ubiquitously and autonomously updatable. I discuss SMART education discourses is the complex of seemingly organised but coarse articulation of disparate discourses. Further, I contend that the identified teacher subjectivity might not be smart in so far as teachers are supposed to be ‘receptive’ in relation to external changes rather than teachers being proactive or critical. Ultimately, I recommend that we open up our discussions regarding different possibilities by re-imagining future versions of education and teachers.