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Saturday, November 16 • 09:15 - 10:15
Plenary 3: Enacting agency for second language writers and their teachers in an era of neoliberal education reform

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Neoliberalism is a political philosophy which prioritizes the role of free markets and competition in making a better society. As Hursh (2007) noted, neoliberalism has been the basis of much education reform over the last few decades and is defined by a few characteristics: a focus on high stakes testing and accountability as introducing “efficiency, accountability, fairness, and equality” in the education system and a focus on standardized tests as providing a “‘quality indicator’ to the consumer and ‘objective assessments’ of student learning within education markets” (pp. 499-500). Often compared to Foucault’s metaphor of the panopticon (e.g. Perryman, 2006; Wilkins & Wood, 2009), these assessment regimes are technologies used to regulate teachers, administrators, and students and get them to perform in particular ways to meet expectations set for them at the state and national levels. As well-documented in Ruecker and Crusan (2018), these reforms have impacted the teaching of L2 writing throughout the world as teachers feel compelled to teach to poorly-designed tests that don’t reflect pedagogical and curricular approaches that our field values.

In this talk, the presenter uses Foucault’s theories of discipline and governmentality as he draws his experience teaching and researching in the southwestern U.S. to explore how state and federal policies have worked to standardize both high school and college writing curricula and constrain the agency of writing teachers to teach to the linguistic and cultural resources that their L2 writers bring to the classroom. He then explores the way that teachers can enact agency in the face of seemingly oppressive forces through curriculum design, rethinking pedagogical approaches, and engaging in advocacy locally and in broader contexts.

avatar for Todd Ruecker

Todd Ruecker

Associate Professor of English and Director of Core Writing, University of Nevada, Reno
Todd Ruecker is Associate Professor of English and Director of Core Writing at the University of Nevada, Reno. His work explores the increasing diversity of educational institutions and advocates for institutional and policy changes to support multilingual student and teacher success... Read More →

Saturday November 16, 2019 09:15 - 10:15
Arizona (400 pax)

Attendees (98)