STUDENTS SERVED AT ALL COSTS AND RESCUED FROM DIFFICULTIES: CONSEQUENCES OF NEOLIBERAL IDEAS IN TEACHER EDUCATION IN SWEDEN
During the last decades, neoliberal ideas have increased their influence in society at large, as well as in higher education. As teacher educators, we experience a growing trend emphasizing the teacher's ability to be “liked” and “popular” at different levels of the educational system. Also, teacher education at large seems to profile through management, where a good reputation becomes weapon in the race to gain market shares. As a consequence, emphasis is placed on quantification of students´ apprehensions, as it becomes a tool for success in popularity-rankings, which in turn create possibilities to attract more students. As for students already in the system, we have identified that they seem more concerned about themselves and their own education than they are taking collective responsibility for a mutual education. This is in great need of further studying, enabling a more complex discussion, giving emphasis to varying consequences of neoliberal ideas in teacher education. Such a discussion opens up for issues as student freedom related to knowledge, teaching and becoming a teacher in a market-driven logic as well as issues related to the educational system at large and to society. Based on these considerations, the aim of this ongoing project is to study dialogues between students and teachers related to activities in teacher education and to discuss this in the light of neoliberal ideas. Data consists of written correspondence between teacher students and teachers produced during two months in 2014. The theoretical framework is built on social constructionist and poststructuralist theory, with discursive psychology and discourse theory as methodological approach. Findings show several aspects in the dialogues between teachers and student teachers, presented as different interpretative repertoires. From a student perspective, the repertoire of demands implies claiming to be served at all costs, while the repertoire of resignation implies appealing to be rescued from difficulties. The students are positioning themselves as consuming children in need of support whereas the teachers are positioned as helping facilitators. From a teacher perspective, the repertoire of adherence is characterized by responsiveness, whereas the repertoire of resistance means questioning students´ matter. Here, the teachers position themselves as facilitators or as critics, where the latter is seen as an expression of a competing idea, challenging the repertoires from a student perspective. From an educational perspective, several problematic aspects on education quality as well as on the supply of teachers to society appears. Finally, implications for teacher education settings are discussed in addition to neoliberalism as an influential tendency.