Power and knowledge-building in teacher inquiry: negotiating interpersonal and ideational difference

David H Eddy Spicer

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6 Citations (SciVal)
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Professional collaboration in schools features prominently in contemporary approaches to educational change. Advocates highlight the importance of situated knowledge to continuous teacher learning, sustained school reform and improved student learning. Critics portray collaboration as an invisible and coercive means of official control. The framework presented in this paper aims to treat these perspectives not as ideological positions but as starting points for empirical investigation into the dynamics of power in professional collaboration. The framework draws on social semiotic theories of language and functional linguistics to portray the ways in which the development of ideas and the development of social relations ideational and interpersonal meaning move in concert. Excerpts from an in-depth study of interaction among science teachers and teacher-leaders in a secondary school undergoing broad reform illustrate the application of this framework. Attention to the dynamics of support and challenge in the most generative of these interactions reveals distinctive patterns of the negotiation of interpersonal and ideational meaning. These patterns of control provide a means of connecting the microprocesses of building knowledge with the broader dynamics of power at play in educational change.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalLanguage and Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2011


  • semiotics
  • educational change
  • teacher collaboration
  • group dynamics
  • knowledge base for teaching
  • learning processes


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