Critical Intentions and “Care of the Self:” Reconsidering the Role of Agency in Preservice Teachers’ Thinking

J. Spencer Clark


Using Foucault’s conceptualization of “care of the self,” this article considers the ways in which social studiesmethods courses can better address preservice teachers’ agency. The author considers the intentionality of twopreservice teachers and uses the notion of “care of the self” to explore the preservice teachers’ thinking aboutindividual agency and the socialized structures of schooling and the teaching profession. Initially, the preserviceteachers engaged in ethical practices that constructed resistance and creative challenges to the perceived normalizingaspects of social studies curriculum; however, when confronted with the socializing aspects of the teachingprofession the preservice teachers were unable to synthesize their intentions and ethical practices with the constraintsof the schools. The preservice teachers’ inability to synthesize their purpose for teaching with the perceivedcurricular and professional norms in schools had implications for their agency. The author suggests preserviceteachers must reimagine their agency as individual ethical practice to be achieved in context, and not as a regulatedpossession.

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Journal of Curriculum and Teaching

ISSN 1927-2677 (Print) ISSN 1927-2685 (Online)

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