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Tensions in Teaching Character: How the ‘Entrepreneurial Character’ is Reproduced, ‘Refused’, and Negotiated in an English Academy School

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  • Kirsty Morrin

Abstract

This article examines ‘character education’ in a school setting. It does so by drawing on ethnographic data collected at Milltown Community Academy, a secondary school in northern England. In this piece I focus on how character education at Milltown materialises and is enacted within the sites and everyday practices of schooling. By analysing the practices of teachers at the school, I show how, on one hand, the character initiative is embedded and complied with, but, on the other hand, teachers’ practice is also littered with instances of ‘refusal’ and non-compliance. Through recent reforms, Milltown Academy now houses an ‘entrepreneurship specialism’. At the school, ‘entrepreneurship’ is embedded in the school’s core ethos and curriculum and as part of this, the ‘entrepreneurial character’ is sold as necessary and progressive and is regularly deployed in narratives of attachment to and detachment from success and failure, respectively. Therefore, I make a claim that not only is a character agenda at place in the school but an ‘entrepreneurial character’ initiative. The analysis in this article is foregrounded in the idea that the Academy’s attempts to instil an ‘entrepreneurial character’ are part of a problematic policy complex that reproduces class-based inequalities, I argue, however, that those tasked with ‘teaching entrepreneurial character’ are indeed part of the process of the socio-cultural reproduction of inequality and dominance, but importantly, they also engage in plural and contradictory practices when it comes to putting the agenda into action.

Suggested Citation

  • Kirsty Morrin, 2018. "Tensions in Teaching Character: How the ‘Entrepreneurial Character’ is Reproduced, ‘Refused’, and Negotiated in an English Academy School," Sociological Research Online, , vol. 23(2), pages 459-476, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:socres:v:23:y:2018:i:2:p:459-476
    DOI: 10.1177/1360780418769670
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    References listed on IDEAS

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