Teachers' attitudes towards educational equality and the relationship between these attitudes and their classroom behaviour : a Greek study
This study is an exploratory investigation of Greek primary and secondary school teachers' attitudes towards educational equality and the relationship of these attitudes with their classroom behaviour. Three aspects were investigated: (a) the relationships between teachers' attitudes towards educational equality, (b) teachers' classroom behaviour (teachers and pupils interactions) and (c) the associations between teachers' attitudes and their classroom behaviour. The research method employed was a mixture of qualitative and quantitative methods. Qualitative methods were employed at the early stage of the research to enrtch validity of the attitude statements and observation categories. Quantitative methods were employed at the main study to enable the generalisation of the findings and the reliability of the data collection tools. A combination of questionnaires and observations was used to investigate teachers' attitudes and their classroom behaviour. The research was carried out in Greater Athens, Greece, on a representative sample of two hundred and sixty schoolteachers. Main findings indicated that: (a) teachers' attitudes towards educational equality combined the liberal egalitarian, strict egalitarian and fair inegalitarian models of educational equality and (b) in classroom practice teachers applied the liberal egalitarian model of educational equality. Teachers' attitudes preference for combining the educational equality models confirms the assumptions that attitudes contain conflicting and contradictory elements; and that teachers try to resolve tensions created when meeting different pupils' needs. The Greek educational equality model is an example of a western state, which combines the models of educational equality in its legislation. In Greek school reality though, the dominant educational equality model is the liberal one. This finding is revealed in teachers' classroom practice. It is argued that the increasing application of the market approach of differentiation to Greek education is the most significant reason for explaining the dominance of the liberal egalitarian model in classroom practice. An alternative model of school education, which focuses on the social aspect of schooling, is presented. Policy implications include reflection on teaching and teachers' training. Stimulations for further thinking and research include: apply the research in different national contexts; investigate how significant factor teachers' training is for affecting teachers' attitudes towards educational equality; investigate the extent of spatial differentiation to education; investigate the condition of educational equality after the inflow of immigrants; and investigate the extent to which the perceived quality of schooling is push migration factor and to what extent is pull migration factor.