Identity Discourses


Interpreting learning as entangled with one’s evolving being

Principal Metaphors

  • Knowledge is … scope of possible action and interpretation
  • Knowing is … appropriate acting/interpreting
  • Learner is … an evolving being
  • Learning is … evolving; developing
  • Teaching is … engaging




Identity Discourses do not separate one’s knowing, one’s doing, and one’s being. Consequently, “learning” is tied to all aspects on one’s ever-evolving identity. How and what is learned, then, is not shaped by pre-given and measurable personal traits (compare: Learner Trait Discourses); rather, how and what is learned has everything to do with how and what has been learned. As well, popular assumptions around the main influences of such learning may be mistaken:
  • Nurture Assumption (Judith Rich Harris, 1990s) – an evidence-based challenge to the belief that one’s personality is mainly determined by the way one was raised, positing that one’s peers (and, to a lesser extent, one's teachers) are more influential in shaping identity than popularly imagined ... and parents less so


Identity Discourses complexify the educational process, partly because they interpret any efforts to influence learning as efforts to affect the learner’s being.


  • Nurture Assumption

Map Location

Please cite this article as:
Davis, B., & Francis, K. (2021). “Identity Discourses” in Discourses on Learning in Education.

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