Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS: https://ethos.bl.uk/OrderDetails.do?uin=uk.bl.ethos.771091
Title: Learn where we teach : a journey to critical intersubjective awareness via self study and action research with primary school teachers
Author: McGowan, Jean
ISNI:       0000 0004 7656 331X
Awarding Body: University of Lincoln
Current Institution: University of Lincoln
Date of Award: 2018
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Abstract:
The education system in Ireland is increasingly held accountable by government and media for the country's performance in the globalised knowledge economy. International test-based comparisons drive the competitive focus and permeate each level of the system with a subsequent reduction in the space available to identify and address local and individual educational needs. The neoliberal political and economic agenda underpinning competitiveness may not be explicitly identified by practitioners yet is experienced in daily practice as individuals and organisations strive to demonstrate achievement of its targets. This research originated in an urban disadvantaged primary school located in provincial Ireland. Motivation to engage in research was initiated by the contradiction I experienced as practice in our school became increasingly directed by external strategies designed to improve results rather than through engagement with the principles of education underpinning the Primary School Curriculum. Those principles explicated that the child's language, prior learning and cultural background constituted the context for learning. Presupposing teachers' professional agency, the curriculum envisaged that teacher judgements would inform the content and methodologies adopted to meet the specific contextual and individual needs of pupils. Research began with my unexamined subjective assumptions about education and a naivety about the political, cultural and social forces that had structured my perspectives. Pierre Bourdieu's theoretical framework of capital, field and habitus facilitated self-study reflection at an entry level to research methodology. Deeper reflexive engagement with Bourdieuian concepts enabled research into the positioning of teachers within the cultural milieu of Irish primary education. An action research approach was adopted to engage colleagues in the research process. It centred on a context specific photographic intervention named PLACE (Photographs to stimulate Learning, Language and Communication in Education) designed to connect children's lived experience outside of school with their work and relationships in school. Moreover it aimed to facilitate teachers' knowledge and understanding of the local context for its inclusion in the curriculum. Two cycles of PLACE, over a two year period were carried out focusing on teachers' perceptions before and after each cycle. Findings indicated that engagement in PLACE had positive effects on teachers' intersubjective acknowledgement of pupils' indigenous knowledge and culture. Analysis of those findings through a Bourdieuian framework uncovered themes of continuity and certainty in teachers' practice perspectives that indicated a practice constraining collective cultural homogeneity. A subsequent historical review of literature pertaining to Irish education revealed deeper issues related to the structuring forces of the interrelated mesh of historical, political, socio-economic, denominational and ideological issues that prefigured more recent neoliberal policy in the unique educational context of Irish primary education. This thesis affirms action research as an evolving process that enabled my gradual transition from a practice orientation to one that explored beneath the surface of current professional practice to reveal the tenacity of past traditions on individual and collective understandings. It contributed to actionable knowledge about practice in the conceptualisation of a cultural architecture that captures these prefigurative forces. It suggests that the research process and findings are of commensurate value to knowledge growth.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.771091  DOI: Not available
Keywords: X320 Academic studies in Primary Education
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