Becoming a professional (and other dissidents acts)

Language and literacy teaching in an age of neoliberal reform


  • Brenton Doecke
  • Alex Kostogriz



ideology, literacy, narrative inquiry, neoliberalism, teacher education


Over the past two decades Australia has witnessed a range of standards-based reforms that have significantly redefined the work of language and literacy educators. Standardised literacy testing and other forms of accountability are increasingly mediating the relationships between teachers and their students. Teachers’ work is in danger of being reduced to a technical activity, a pre-packaged set of skills designed to produce mandated educational outcomes. This trend mirrors developments in other Western countries where neoliberal reforms have been introduced under the guise of improving literacy standards and rendering teachers accountable (Kostogriz, 2007; Doecke, Howie & Sawyer, 2006; Doecke, Locke & Petrosky, 2004). What are teachers to do in these conditions? How can they maintain their professionalism when they are swept up by the machinery of such reforms? This essay explores the complexities of engaging in a critical pedagogy and resisting the enormous pressure of neoliberal governments to conform to their mandates. By focusing on ‘the ideological becoming’ (Bakhtin, 1981: 341) of a small group of pre-service teachers, we shall investigate how a complicated nexus between ideology and practice shapes their professional learning, opening up the possibility of a critical perspective on the neoliberal policy landscape around them.




How to Cite

Doecke, B., & Kostogriz, A. (2008). Becoming a professional (and other dissidents acts): Language and literacy teaching in an age of neoliberal reform. L1-Educational Studies in Language and Literature, 8(4), 63–84.