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Regulation in `progressivist' pedagogic discourse: individualized teacher-pupil talk

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This paper examines some discursive practices of `progressivist' education, in order to investigate the forms of power and control which constitute pedagogic knowledges and institutional subjects in the context of the `progressivist' classroom. It draws on the work of Basil Bernstein (1990), so as to theorize the classroom as `pedagogic discourse' and to foreground classroom practices as regulative practices which `recontextualize' discourses and knowledges under a principle of institutional control, rather than under a principle of pedagogic experience and learning, for pupils. Simultaneously, it uses Critical Discourse Analysis (Fairclough, 1992, 1995) as a methodology which grounds the theoretical claims on the regulative practices of `progressivist' pedagogic discourse onto concrete data of individualized teacher-pupil interaction. By examining textual properties of such interactions (particularly the teacher's extensive use of modality), the article claims that `progressivist' practices work in a subtle way, so as to privilege `procedural' or `ritual' types of knowledge rather than `principled' ones (Edwards and Mercer, 1987) and to produce pedagogic subjects who are oriented towards executing secretarial tasks, rather than developing autonomy and creativity in their learning.

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