Over my career in education I have taught in schools at all levels, from early years to secondary, and have taught and researched at universities in Scotland, England, Australia, Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates. My research draws on a range of interdisciplinary fields, including social, political and psychoanalytic theories, and focuses on developing critical analyses of educational policy and politics with a particular emphasis on how policy shapes the professional work and identities of teachers. Recent books include Education and the fantasies of neoliberalism: Policy, politics and psychoanalysis (Routledge, 2022), Lacan and education policy: The other side of education (Bloomsbury, 2019) and Teacher education and the political: The power of negative thinking (Routledge, 2017).
My work involves two interrelated programs of research: 1) psychoanalytically-informed critical policy studies and 2) critical engagements with policy and politics in teaching and teacher education.
I am currently accepting PhDs in Education.
Please get in touch if you would like to discuss your research ideas further.
My work in critical educational policy research, has been published in authored books and leading international journals and is internationally recognised as contributing to a new interdisciplinary field that brings together political and psychoanalytic theory to provide novel and significant critical insights into global policy issues in education. Commenting on my 2019 Bloomsbury book, Lacan and education policy: The other side of education, Prof Stephen Ball (UCL) noted, “Matthew Clarke’s book brings a new and devastating critical perspective to bear on education policy. His use of Lacan to address fundamental questions about what education has become in the context of neoliberalism enables us to begin to think creatively and with integrity about ‘the other side of education’. This is a telling and timely book that skilfully deploys psychoanalytic insights to unpack the fantasies that haunt and inhibit education policy – it is exciting, challenging and important!”.
My ongoing work on the politics of teaching and teacher education has likewise won an international reputation. Key outputs from this program of research include my 2017 book Teacher education and the political: The power of negative thinking in the Routledge Futures and Foundations of Education series, co-authored with Professor Anne Phelan (University of British Columbia). The book has garnered praise from leading international scholars such as Prof Bill Pinar, who described it as a as ‘an impressive, compelling book’ and Prof Geoff Whitty, who remarked, “this clever new book suggests that some forms of 'negative thinking', drawn from contemporary social theory, may actually help protect the progressive spaces that recent reforms are seeking to close down.”
I am currently collaborating with colleagues from a range of international contexts, including Australia, Canada, Denmark, New Zealand and Sweden, as part of the International Teacher Education Research Collective @_ITERC
I am interested in supervising doctoral projects that engage with educational policy and politics and that embrace a critical perspective on educational research in order to: a) understand the complex entanglements linking education and society; b) critique past and present education systems and practices; and c) identify alternatives for education policy, practice and research. I am interested in supervising work which inquires into (1) who benefits (and who does not) from current and historical arrangements in education? and; (2) from the standpoint of the least advantaged, what can be done about inequitable arrangements?
Past doctoral theses I have supervised include:
Pennington, A. (2022). Colonising communities? Community engagement, democracy and the articulation of power in the governance of Multi-Academy Trusts in England, York St John University, UK.
Walker, E. (2020). Restorying ‘our school’: Mapping a school improvement counternarrative through space, place and the light of local knowledge. York St John University, UK.
Haines Lyon, C. (2019). Unpicking the neoliberal noose: Working towards democratic parent engagement in a primary school. York St John University, UK.
Elbra-Ramsay, C. (2019). Navigating the pedagogical, relational and moral economies of assessment: An analysis of the development of student teachers’ understanding of feedback. York St John University, UK.
Raymond, P. (2019). Creativity and/or performativity? A critical case study of tensions experienced by pre-service and early career teachers. York St John University, UK.
Wei, C. L. (2018). Towards a non-representational, abductive-driven research approach: Informed guessing for qualitative research. UNSW, Australia.
Tursini, U. (2014). Exploring changes in teachers’ pedagogic habitus: Case studies of English language teacher self-evaluation as a meditational activity. UNSW, Australia.
Lo, M.M. (2014). Negotiating and appropriating new literacies in English language classrooms in Hong Kong primary schools: Economies of knowledge, attention and enjoyment. University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR, China.
Yang, B. (2013). Language, identity and power in bilingual education: Policy enactment in three bilingual Tibetan school communities in Sichuan, China. UNSW, Australia.
Yawiloeng, R. (2013). Self-regulation in EFL writing composition: From private speech to the triadic system. UNSW, Australia.
Chan, C. (2011). Discourses of collaboration in English language teaching. University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR, China.
Danjun, Y. (2010). In search of self: Understanding teacher learning in a cross-institutional teacher community. University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR, China.
Hennig, B. (2010). Language learning and the self: Exploring Hong Kong students' motivation for learning German as a third language from a Foucauldian ethical perspective. University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR, China.
Gu, M. (2007). The discursive construction of English language learners' motivation in China: A multilevel perspective. University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR, China.
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Immunitas and (un)desirable teacher knowledge in teacher educationEuropean Journal of EducationContributions to Journals: Articles
The role of education in a democracy: Continuing the debateOxford Review of EducationContributions to Journals: Articles
The subordination of teacher identity: Ethical risks and potential lines of flightTeachers and Teaching. Theory and Practice, vol. 29, no. 3, pp. 241-258Contributions to Journals: Articles
The evil of authoritarian education: Banality and compliance in the neoliberal eraForum 3-19, vol. 65, no. 1, pp. 130-139Contributions to Journals: Articles
Defiant imaginaries: From a politics of identity to an ethics of friendship in teachingInternational Encyclopedia of Education. 4th edition. Elsevier, pp. 39-48, 10 pagesChapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings: Chapters
Fiscal cuts in education and their effects: Politicising learned helplessness as a disciplinary technology in education leaders in Catalonia. An exploratory research studyEducation Policy Analysis Archives, vol. 30, no. 159, 159Contributions to Journals: Articles
What has been “missing” or “missed” over the last 50 years in APJTE?Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, vol. 50, no. 3, pp. 233-248Contributions to Journals: Articles
Double indemnity: dualities, tensions and loss in the moral economies of feedbackAsia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, vol. 50, no. 3, pp. 266-281Contributions to Journals: Articles
What is the ‘public’ in public education?: Mapping past, present and future educational imaginaries of Europe and beyondEuropean Educational Research Journal, vol. 21, no. 1, pp. 3-12Contributions to Journals: Articles
Education and the Fantasies of Neoliberalism: Policy, Politics and PsychoanalysisRoutledge, London. 202 pagesBooks and Reports: Books