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Classroom bodies: affect, body language, and discourse when schoolchildren encounter national tests in mathematics

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The aim of this paper is to analyse how Swedish grade three children are discursively positioned as pupils when they are taking national tests in mathematics and when they reflect on the testing situation afterwards. With support from theories about affective-discursive assemblages, we explore children’s body language, emotions, and talk in light of the two overarching discourses that we believe frame the classroom: the ‘testing discourse’ and the ‘development discourse’. Through the disciplinary power of these main discourses children struggle to conduct themselves in order to become recognized as intelligible subjects and ‘ideal pupils’. The analysis, when taking into account how affects and discourses intertwine, shows that children can be in ‘untroubled’, ‘troubled’, or ambivalent subject positions.
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Keywords: Affective-discursive assemblages; grade three children; mathematics tests; power; ‘ideal’ pupils

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Education, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden 2: Department of Social Work, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden 3: Department of Nursing, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden 4: Department of Sociology, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden

Publication date: July 3, 2020

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