Mappings and policies-in-the-making: Toward an ontogenetic understanding of language-in-education policy

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Abstract  Most agency-focused research in language-in-education policy compares codified intention to reality. Such an approach implies that the policy in question is ontologically stable and can therefore act as the benchmark against which to compare practice. Operating under the notion that ontologically grounded methodologies are susceptible to missing those instances in which educators develop policy outright (as opposed to interpret it), we propose an ontogenetic alternative that sees policy as never materially stable, as constantly in a state of production. Drawing on Kitchin and Dodge’s [2007, Rethinking Maps. Progress in Human Geography, 31, 331-344] work in the philosophy of cartography, we attempt to identify teachers’ policies-in-the making during an ethnographic study conducted in Spanish-English bilingual schools in the greater Seattle area of the United States by centering our attention, not on a policy to be implemented, but on a problem to be solved. Findings revealed that the lack of resources, contextual changes, and the need for new practices all compelled teachers to develop new policies-in-the-making from moment to moment. The results are discussed in terms of compliance and resistance which begin to lose their meaning when policy is no longer understood to be molded and enacted by agents.

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