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Altruism in teaching : towards a critical ontoloty of altruism

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posted on 13.01.2017, 02:09 by Pollard, Vikki Ann
Abstract Telling stories is integral to knowing the world and the constitution of a sense of self. Feminist film and cultural theorist Teresa de Lauretis (1984) reminds us that story telling ‘is the process by which, for all social beings, subjectivity is constructed’ (159). We make who we are by telling stories. Taking this as a guiding principle this thesis examines the possibility of developing a subversive style of story-telling in order to tell different stories about teaching (McWilliam, 1994, St. Pierre, 1997). A common story of teaching is used as a focus - the story of the altruistic teacher. I argue that stories about altruism as they occur in popular culture and in educational research tend to valourise altruism. This neglects the limits that the virtue of altruism places upon the possibilities for subjectivities. Using the work of Nietzsche and Foucault, this thesis attempts to position altruism as central to a genealogy that seeks to investigate the limits of altruism and strives towards the possibility of telling different stories of altruism. Reflective practice as a method of inquiry into teaching practices is taken as a case study for the possible implementation of this style of story-telling. In order to achieve a subversive and reflective practice, reflective writing is reconceived as a grotesque realm in which surprise prompts reflection. The main contribution of this thesis is the development of a playfully subversive form of reflective writing that draws from the work of Bakhtin (1981, 1984) and from critical reflective writing (Pillow, 2003, Bleakley, 2000) to generate different stories of altruism in teaching.


Campus location


Principal supervisor

Mary Lou Rasmussen

Year of Award


Department, School or Centre



Doctor of Philosophy

Degree Type



Faculty of Education