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The Love that Dare Not Speak its Name? The Constitution of the English Subject and Beginning Teachers' Motivations to Teach It

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3
Number of pages14
JournalEnglish Teaching-Practice And Critique
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2003


King's Authors


Why do beginning teachers say they want to teach English in the
primary or secondary school? This article considers the results of a survey of
339 beginning teachers in the context of a discussion about the constitution of
the subject and teachers’ professional development. The three year project for
which this survey was the opening move is outlined. Beginning teachers’
“love” of the English subject – and especially a “love of literature” – are
suggested to be their strongest motivations and this is contrasted with findings
from other surveys of beginning teachers’ motivations which indicate that the
subject is a weaker motivation. The article concludes by suggesting that
claims to the constitution of English that focus on its content alone – albeit
motivated by the desire to transform English and make it “relevant” – omit
the vitally important dimension of pedagogy. The work of transforming the
teaching and learning of English in schools must start by working with the
“loves” beginning teachers bring rather than seeking to erase or deny these

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