Teacher Agency and Futures Thinking

Jan Varpanen, Antti Laherto, Jaakko Hilppö, Tuulikki Ukkonen-Mikkola

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Abstract

Problems encountered in top-down school reforms have repeatedly highlighted the significance of teachers’ agency in educational change. At the same time, temporality has been identified as a key element in teachers’ agency, with teachers’ beliefs about the future and experiences of the past shaping their agentic orientations. However, research on teachers’ future orientations is typically limited to short-term trajectories, as opposed to long-term visions of education. To address this, we draw on a futures studies perspective to give more explicit attention to teachers’ long-term visions of their work. We argue that the method of future narratives, already well-established in the field of futures studies, is a fruitful methodological framework for studying these long-term visions. In this paper, we first show that the futures studies approach is theoretically compatible with the ecological model of teacher agency. We then outline the method of future narratives to point out the possibilities it offers. Finally, we illustrate our approach with an exploratory analysis of a small set of future narratives where teachers imagine a future workday. Our analysis reveals that the narratives offer a rich view of teachers’ longer-term visions of education, including instances of reflecting on the role of education in relation to broader societal developments. Our study suggests that this novel approach can provide tools for research on teacher agency as well as practical development of teacher education, addressing long-term educational issues and policies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number177
Number of pages16
JournalEDUCATION SCIENCES
Volume12
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Keywords

  • Chronotope
  • Educational change
  • Educational reform
  • Futures thinking
  • Images of the future
  • Narrative inquiry
  • Professional agency
  • Teacher agency

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)
  • Computer Science(all)
  • Education
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Public Administration
  • Computer Science Applications

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