epe667apple jumper[1]

epe667apple jumper[1] - EDUCATIONAL STUDIES 44:98-121 2008...

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EDUCATIONAL STUDIES, 44:98-121, 2008 Copyright © American Educational Studies Association ISSN: 0013-1946 print / 1532-6993 online DOI: 10.1080/00131940802368372 ARTICLES Apple Jumper, Teacher Babe, and Bland Uniformer Teachers: Fashioning Feminine Teacher Bodies Becky Atkinson Department of Educational Leadership, Policy, and Technology Studies, University of Alabama A student teacher group's conversation about teacher clothing as reflective of certain kinds of reprehensible or desirable teacher identities provoked the writing of this article. I use a feminist poststructuralist analysis to explore the three categories of women teachers' dress suggested by the student teachers as signifiers of women teachers' subjectivities discursively produced within the contexts of schooling. The article also challenges the three categories as constructions produced by this student teacher group in their positionality as young, White, middle-class, heterosexual female novice teachers in the Southeast region of the United States. This inquiry highlights the limitations and constrictions of women teachers' institutionalized subjectivities and suggests ways in which these limitations and constrictions offer sites for resistance, specifically in relation to clothing choices that shape and reflect a feminine teacher body. A conversation with student teachers just about to begin their professional teaching careers prompted the explorations outlined in this article. This group of students embodied the norm of the elementary teaching population in that all five were White, able-bodied, heterosexual, middle- or upper middle-class young Correspondence should be addressed to Dr. Becky Atkinson; Department of Educational Leader- ship, Policy, and Technology Studies; Office 323 A, Graves Hall; Box 870302, University of Alabama; Tuscaloosa, AL 35487-0302. E-mail: [email protected]
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EDUCATIONAL STUDIES 99 women. They were completing the final semester of their elementary teacher education program at a small, private, conservative, liberal arts, Master's level university located in a suburban community in the Southeast. The students and teachers in the suburban schools in which they were student teaching were pre- dominately White, middle- and working-class populations. One of the student teachers had been given a pair of "teacher socks," socks decorated with pictures of school buses, books, and pencils by one of her second- grade students. At the after-school group seminar, the young woman expressed dismay at having to wear the socks because of the unwritten rule among the grade level teachers at her field placement that one had to wear a student's gift immediately. All of those in the seminar group seemed to understand her distress at wearing the teacher socks, as they all viewed this "teacher gear" style of dress as somehow reductive of their image of what a teacher should be.
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