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Title: Teaching across the social divisions : an exploration of the construction of identities in a Masters in teaching course.
Author: Powell, John Anthony.
Awarding Body: Manchester Metropolitan University
Current Institution: Manchester Metropolitan University
Date of Award: 2001
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This thesis offers a detailed exploration of a course, the students and myself as one of their tutors. In that sense it deals with a world which is familiar to those who work and learn in university teacher training contexts - the world of continuous professional development for teachers linked to courses which can be loosely described as practitioner research, reflective practice and/or as action research. Within this context the thesis is about considering the ways that relationships between teachers and pupils are articulated. Constructions of practices and the identities that inhabit them are discussed in the thesis reflecting the processes that operate during sessions of the MA in Teaching, a professional development course particularly concerned with facilitating experienced teachers to explore their own practice. The thesis is therefore primarily about a course, about teacher talk and about my continuous attempts to offer insights into these areas of social construction whilst acknowledging my continued presence both in the accounts of the course and this writing. At one level the thesis is concerned with analysing teachers as learners interactions and the way that their talk is accessed and shared and insights developed. At another level however, the research and methodological paradigms that have been developed are significantly different from a classic ethnographic approach in several respects. First the study is concerned with the ways that language impacts and constructs identities relating the constructions directly to the talk that teachers, as students, are engaged in on the course. The thesis also examines the ways that power dynamics are represented in teacher's talk considering their operations through relations of social difference (understood as a complex interweaving of various social categories) and the ways that this may impact on a broader spectrum of identities to be found within educational contexts. The thesis considers that, whilst often representing a supposed and somewhat superficial, homogeneity, MA students and their tutors are also represented by social differences of one kind or another, sometimes in common and sometimes at odds with those that they teach. At yet another level the thesis is concerned with the narratives shared by teachers as students involved in a process of professional development and how they are able to be challenging whilst at the same time supportive. The thesis therefore considers the ways that teacher narratives offer accounts that reflect both professional and personal ways of behaving. The thesis focuses on what are best described as narratives of practice as represented by teachers on the course. These narratives of practice therefore constitute one of several key ideas that permeate the thesis. The narratives shared on the course are dynamic and involved in constant reconstruction through the impact of course processes which promote critical questioning. The narrative is important as a vehicle for the continuing construction and development of discourse(s) that reflect and develop connections to cultural perspectives for teachers experiencing the course. The student narratives are concerned with the constructions of their daily practices not only as a set of developmental and historical reflections but also as a cyclical discourse where students might anticipate future practices. In this regard the course offers not simply a reflective model to students but also a reflexive one where students are involved in actively considering themselves and their actions as constructions/constructors of practice influenced by factors such as experience, situation and context and the language that connects these positions. The thesis discusses practice as constituted through a discourse that is partly historical, experiential, speculative, expressive and textual. This discourse is explored in the thesis as preparing students for the participation in a model of reflexive practice that is concerned with their intellectual, academic and practical involvement in a process of actively exploring their sense of 'becoming'. In this form of continuing analysis the student is constantly engaged in appreciating the complexity present within any construction from practice as part of a process that privileges a continuing engagement with detailed concerns with the intention of developing and improving future professional practices. The thesis constructs a paradigm that sways rather like a rope bridge between general modem concerns and more specific post-modem ones. This 'bridging' strategy promotes a flexible solution to constructing identities and promotes representations of both commonality and difference. This approach attempts to be both distinctive and creative by developing a theoretical investigation that strives to recognise the complexities present within practice narratives and develop insights into both individualities and commonalties represented there. The research considers the influence of social, institutional and interactional relationships constructed through narratives and treated as data that reflect the practices of teachers in their roles as students on the course. The research raises important questions about the discourses that constitute those in education and the impact that they may have on them.It identifies power concerns and applies an analytical framework to the data to reveal a complex model of shifting discourses and practices. The thesis therefore is concerned with the ways that teachers socially construct their relationships with themselves and others from both inside and outside the institutional context. Inevitably the thesis is therefore itself a construction which brings to bear my personal and professional interests to attempt to understand narrative practices of M.A students. Traditional PhD claims to 'originally contributing to knowledge' maybe more difficult to sustain in these critical times, but it is clear that the thesis does help to develop insights into what is the professional experience of many teachers and their tutors - that of being engaged in the courses which purport to be experientially based. What this thesis achieves therefore is to cast light on to what is taking place within such experience based discourses. The outcomes include epistemological and ontological understandings but also and by no means least, some indications of how teacher education courses might be further developed.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available