Autonomy as Responsibility in Professional Life: Deconstructing Teaching Standards

Document Type : Original Article


1 Department of Curriculum and Pedagogy, Faculty of Education, University of British Columbia

2 Faculty of Education, York University


The irony of teaching standards policies is that they undermine the very commitments to professional autonomy that they espouse.  Positioned as a condition (of competence and conduct) and consequence (of competence and conduct), autonomy becomes both philosophically and practically problematic. Drawing on the work of Jacques Derrida, the authors deconstruct the British Columbia standards policy titled “Standards for the Education, Competence, and Professional Conduct of Teachers.” Deconstruction is not aimed here at the destruction of standards policies but towards understanding and appreciating the role they can play in acknowledging that which is core to teaching and yet difficult to name within the language of standards. Our efforts are directed towards the rehabilitation of autonomy as educational responsibility that recognizes its own deep-seated and perhaps necessary contradictions.