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Title: School ethos : an hermeneutic phenomenological analysis of secondary school students' experiences
Author: Graham, Archie
ISNI:       0000 0004 2709 6057
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2011
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The focus of this research is what constitutes school ethos for a purposive sample of seven final year students in a Scottish secondary school. A review of existing literature on the topic of school ethos highlighted the importance that policy makers and practitioners in Scotland afford to the notion of a positive school ethos. Yet knowledge of the topic remains limited with only a narrow range of approaches to researching school ethos evident within the literature reviewed. This study begins by considering the ideas of the early twentieth century philosophies of Martin Heidegger (1889 – 1976) and Edith Stein (1891 – 1942). In their ideas about the human person and human relationships the conceptual tools: thrownness; beingwith; care (acts of solicitude); mood; and temporality are identified to investigate school ethos from a different perspective. The hermeneutic phenomenological tradition particularly Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s (1908 – 1961) notion of embodiment and Hans George Gadamer’s (1900 – 2002) ideas of: conversation; fusion of horizons; and the hermeneutic circle provide both the methodology and method to investigate the phenomenon that presents itself as school ethos from the student perspective. Data on the students’ lived experience of secondary school were collected by conversational interview and are presented as participant stories with each story organised around the same five explicative themes. The analysis of the data found that there was little evidence of the school’s declared ethos entering the lifeworld of the participants, rather school ethos is experienced for them as moods which surface from acts of solicitude. Although the small-scale nature of the study precludes wider generalisations from the findings the study highlights issues that may be useful to policy makers and practitioners. In particular, it suggests there is a need to pay greater attention to understanding the lifeworlds of students, to the lived experience of school ethos and on seeking further clarification around what constitutes positive acts of solicitude within the context of school.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Education, Secondary ; School environment