Institutional Discourse and Practice: A case study of the social construction of technological competence in the primary classroom

Singh, Parlo (1993) Institutional Discourse and Practice: A case study of the social construction of technological competence in the primary classroom. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 14(1), pp. 39-58.

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In this paper concepts from Bernstein's (in press; 1990) theory of pedagogic discourse are used to analyse student communication in the computer setting of the classroom. The perceptions of the classroom teacher and year five students, four girls and seven boys about social relations in the classroom are the focus of analysis. It is argued that the pedagogic device of technocratic masculinity is socially constructed to relay power/knowledge relations. In the case study a group of male students manage to gain a position of power because they select, sequence, organise and transmit technological knowledge forms. The boys' control over power/knowledge relations in the computer setting is strengthened by the support of the classroom teacher, who acknowledges the boys' claim to computer expertise. Through the dual actions of a group of boys and the classroom teacher, a fiction about computer knowledge and competency is socially constructed in the classroom. Within the fiction of technological patriarchy regulating classroom practice, the behaviour of boys is interpreted as risk-taking',experimental' and technologically competent'. Girls are positioned as inactive, passive and rule-followers within the regulative discourse. While some girls position themselves within the structures of technocratic discourse, other girls deconstruct thetruth' of their computer incompetence and passivity. For the girls, movement across and within the symbolic categories of regulative discourses is a constant struggle of the inner and outer voice. The girls must mediate their social relations with significant others'. In addition, the girls must reconcile their inner voices. They must struggle to negotiate a positioning for themselves asnice' and good', carriers of messages, the domestic, the subservient. At the same time, these girls, the daughters of professional career mothers, must struggle to benot nice', to be powerful, active and gain credit for their computing skills.

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ID Code: 2863
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: gender, computing, educational discourse
ISSN: 1465-3346
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Copyright Owner: Copyright 1993 Taylor & Francis
Copyright Statement: First published in British Journal of the Sociology of Education 14(1):pp. 39-58.
Deposited On: 12 Dec 2005 00:00
Last Modified: 09 Jun 2010 12:29

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