Epistemological Shudders as Productive Aporia: A Heuristic for Transformative Teacher Learning

  • Jennifer Charteris School of Education University of New England Armidale, Australia


Epistemological shudders offer teachers and researchers a valuable heuristic to gain new perspectives on classroom dynamics. As a means for reflexivity, they involve turning one’s reflexive gaze on discourse. Although this shudder metaphor has been used to produce puzzles and paradoxes to explore regimes of truth in early childhood contexts, it remains under theorised. The study’s conceptual framework utilises Judith Butler’s notion of performativity which precludes a prediscursive autonomous subject. Butler’s view suggests that identity is a continuous process of reiterating and resignifying one’s position within and across discourses. Through this performance repetition, an illusion of a stable fixed identity is created. In keeping with a view of poststructural research which troubles or disrupts the “taken for granted” in the interests of social justice, the approach to discourse analysis taken in this study supports a deconstruction of unproblematised classroom discourse. During a research interview, the use of a discourse analysis tool prompted epistemological shudders that enabled a teacher to review her beliefs about how she positioned students in her classroom and the researcher to problematise essentialist notions of agency. The study illustrates how epistemological shudders can prompt teachers and researchers to trouble unquestioned assumptions as part of a dynamic learning process.

Author Biography

Jennifer Charteris, School of Education University of New England Armidale, Australia
Jennifer Charteris is an experienced teacher educator with twenty one years of teaching experience in New Zealand, Australia, and the UK, working with students, teachers, principals, school communities, and advisors. As an in-service teacher educator, she has promoted collaborative peer coaching with teachers through which they gather and reflect on student voice data to better meet the needs of their learners. She has presented at numerous international conferences and has a record of published articles. Her research interests comprise learner agency, assessment for learning, leadership and management, and teacher professional learning. She is currently in the final stages of completing her doctoral thesis.