Heroes and villains: the insistence of the imaginary and the novice teacher’s need to believe

Matthew Clarke, Lynn Sheridan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


This paper stems from research in Australia examining pre-service teacher and mentor teacher experiences on the practicum. The paper focuses on findings from the research, highlighting the tendency among the pre-service teachers to either valorise or demonise their mentor teachers, reflective of what we describe, following Kristeva and Britzman, as their powerful need to believe. The paper draws on psychoanalytic theory in order gain insights into this process, viewing the pre-service teachers’ accounts of their mentors as fantasies that serve a stabilising function in order to manage the intense emotional demands of schools and classrooms. The paper concludes with considerations of how teacher educators might ameliorate the ideality of novice teachers, reflecting the insistence of the imaginary, and hence enable them to benefit more from the practicum experience. We briefly suggest the use of tools that work within the symbolic register to exercise a mediating role in the context of these intense demands.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)194-206
JournalAsia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education
Issue number2
Early online date27 Jun 2016
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2017

Bibliographical note

Acknowledgements: The authors would like to acknowledge the support of the New South Wales Association of Independent Schools and thank the schools and teachers that participated in the research.


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