Dr. Melanie Janzen


Associate Professor

(204) 480-1451
Room 254 Education Building

For additional information,

visit My Research Tools (MRT)

Melanie Janzen is an associate professor in the Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning and a research affiliate with the Centre for Human Rights Research. Her areas of interest are in teacher identity and teacher becoming, specifically in regards to understanding, not just how to teach, but rather how teachers understand who they are and what it means to be and become a teacher. Subsequently, she is interested in the ethical responsibilities integral in the being (and becoming) of a teacher. In addition, Melanie has been an early years teacher and learning support teacher for more than 15 years and has an interest in the reconceptualization of children and early years education. This has led to research on how children are understood in schools in regards to our responses to their behaviours, and thus, advocacy for greater ethical engagements with children.

2011 – PhD, The University of British Columbia
2005 – MA, The University of Manitoba
1994 – BEd, The University of Manitoba

Areas of Specialization
Teacher education
Curriculum studies
Early years education

Research Interests
Teacher Education—I am interested in how discourses in/form teacher identities, and subsequently illustrate the ways in which discourses and power work to create the teaching subject. This work—emerging from the interstices of teacher education and curriculum theory—is important in relation to understanding teacher identity, teacher “becoming” and teacher responsibility.
Currently, I am working on a SSHRC-funded Insight Development project entitled, The Emotional Toll of Obligation and Teachers’ Disengagement from the Profession. This project, in collaboration with my colleague Dr. Anne Phelan (UBC), is aimed at understanding teachers’ experiences of obligation and how obligation, conceptualized as something that gives teaching its moral defensibility, is also that which can create a moral disengagement from the profession. It is this double-edged relationship that we are exploring in order to shed light on the emotional work and moral integrity of teaching in an era of increased standardization and managerialism.

Early Years Education—Drawing on feminist poststructural theories and situated within the reconceptualist movement, this thematic area explores the conceptions of identities of children, how these are discursively formed, and the ways in which the relationship between discourse, power and identity effectively marginalize and disenfranchise children from the very systems that are meant to serve them. In other words, how do we talk about and think about our work with children, and how does this effect experiences for children? My work in this area has often been conceptual, including a literature review on the identities of children within research and various critical discourse analyses, resulting in presentations at peer-reviewed conferences and a number of publications.
Currently, I am a co-applicant on a SSHRC-funded Partnership Development Grant (the Principal investigator is Dr. Kathy Levine, UM Social Work) entitled, Improving Educational Experiences for Children in Care. The project is a collaboration between education and child welfare systems, and will involve policy analysis, case studies and interviews.

Children’s Rights—The Convention of the Rights of the Child is an important document in advancing issues of social justice and equity for children. I am interested in a critical engagement with children’s rights. My current questions include: how do rights-based discourses support children in schools? How do rights-based approaches effect children most marginalized, particularly in Manitoba schools? What are the limits, difficulties, and foreseen consequences with rights-based discourses?