Including ‘difficult’ students: counter politics, play and liveability in the primary school classroom

Teague, Laura. 2022. Including ‘difficult’ students: counter politics, play and liveability in the primary school classroom. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 43(1), pp. 145-157. ISSN 0159-6306 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Drawing upon Judith Butler’s conceptualisation of performativity and subjectification, this article explores the effects of different kinds of counter political action to disrupt exclusionary school practices that further marginalise children who are, often already, on the edges of school life. Firstly, tracing the impossibilities sometimes encountered when taking up a politics of reinscription, the article goes on to argue that the role of the pedagogue engaged in counter politics needs further disruption in order that children themselves have more space to determine who and how to be. Here, I explore how the rigid teacher/ student hierarchical binary can be unsettled through play. A more intersubjective relationship emerges between teacher and student which can make school feel more liveable and sustainable. Given the highly pressurised conditions in schools, globally, in this time of late neoliberalism, finding ways to make school more liveable is essential work. This article suggests that whilst moments of play, such as the one detailed here, are often fleeting, their effects can be felt afterwards. Finding opportunities for play is an important counter political strategy in schools at this time.

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Additional Information:

“This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education on 8 October 2020, available online:”


liminality, counter politics, primary school, Judith Butler, play, liveability

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Educational Studies


9 August 2020Accepted
28 October 2020Published Online

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Date Deposited:

15 Oct 2020 09:00

Last Modified:

11 Feb 2022 13:51

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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