Professional standards, teacher identities and an ethics of singularity

Matthew Clarke, Alex Moore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)


This paper offers a critical analysis of the education policy move towards teacher professional standards. Drawing on Lacan’s three registers of the psyche (real, imaginary and symbolic), the paper argues that moves towards codification (and domestication) of teachers’ work and identities in standardized (and sanitized) forms, such as the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership professional standards recently adopted in Australia, can be read as a colonization of the Real and the imaginary by (a rather static, mortified form of) the symbolic. The paper argues that in response to such normalizing moves, we need to consider how we might conceptualize the reanimation of what it means to teach and be a teacher, something we attempt in terms of enabling each of the psyche’s registers to inter-animate each other, as a means of engendering teacher identities characterized by criticality, creativity and passion – that is, by an ethics of singularity rather than by standardization.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)487-500
JournalCambridge Journal of Education
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2013


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