Prescription through Profiling, Profiling through Prescription – Inspection, Effectiveness and the Struggle for Recognition in Teaching and Learning

This paper discusses the acts of profiling that occur in teacher inspection, wherein which an “ideal” teacher is posited in accordance with specific, externally established criteria for good teaching. This is a global phenomenon, but for the purposes of this paper, I will use the self-evaluation measures in the Irish inspection system as an example. I argue that the use of profiling in inspections does not consider the sometimes overt, sometimes covert, struggle for recognition that is often palpable in classroom practice. This struggle should be understood as a vital component in attempting to grasp the dynamics of the relationship between the teacher, the learner, the inspector and the lesson. The paper will take a primarily philosophical approach, using Sartre’s understanding of recognition as the main point of departure. Ultimately, it will explore what this struggle for recognition might look like in classroom practice, how it is ineffectively accounted for by inspections, particularly those that rely on profiles of “effective teaching and learning”, and what might be done in terms of residing with the tensions it embodies. In doing so, I hope to discuss more broadly what it means to be a teacher who is “existentially exposed” in the classroom