Education and the experience of language : a phenomenological approach to pupil talk
The thesis argues that language research in education is implicitly positivistic, and that in:'focussing on communicative functions, most ,investigations ignore the processes of expression. This imbalance has influenced theory and method in English Studies, which should acknowledge both aspects. After a review of linguistic influences, a phenomenological epistemology is developed. This provides the basis for an account of language which restores the element of expression. The centre of the work comprises two parallel strands of enquiry which have an elaborated distinction of de Saussure's langue and parole as their common structure. After sketching a simple model of some of the features of langue, one part draws on phenomenological writing. It shows how the formal structure of language has its roots in experience; langue, therefore, - as a science of elements - is ,extended to comprehend the relationship of those necessary abstractions to the structures of experience underlying them. The other part shows how such a philosophical account has an empirical and useful validity; literary method is used to describe the expressive acts of students as they discuss poetry. Consonant with the first part, parole is viewed as so many instances of experience disposed to sharing meaning. This illumination of parole suggests some);"truths which research methodology must respect if it is to recognise the character and event of meaning. In conclusion, several principles of art which the expressive nature of language shares are elaborated with examples from 'literature, and pedagogic implications illustrated from the author's experience. Finally, phenomenological enquiry is characterised as a method which can investigate the experience of language in education; such work respects the personal, experience of meaning, and so the moral dimension of research lies in the problem of communicating that effort for meaning to others.