Education Policy and Social Reproduction: Class Inscription & Symbolic Control

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The authors also set out to re-establish social class at the centre of educational analysis at a time when emphasis has been on identity and identity formation, arguing for their interdependence. This book will be an important resource for students, policy analysts and policymakers wishing to think through and understand the longer term impact of programmes that have shaped secondary schooling in Britain and elsewhere. Skip to content.

Perusall turns often-skipped solitary reading assignments into engaging collective activities students don't want to miss. Students collectively annotate each reading — asking questions, responding to each other's questions, or sharing other perspectives or knowledge. Perusall's novel data analytics automatically grade these annotations to ensure that students complete the reading, and as an instructor, you get a classroom of fully prepared students every time. Perusall provides you with a simple "confusion report" that summarizes areas your students misunderstood, disagreed with each other about, or were most engaged with — along with examples of the best annotations, so you can call out specific questions or individuals in class.

My claim to knowledge is twofold, incorporating my living theory of practice as the acknowledgement of diversity and the acceptance of difference, and my living theory of social justice as equality of respect for all. In testing my claim to knowledge, I focus on certain standards of judgement that I wish to be used in assessing my research. These standards of judgement are grounded in my ontological values of social justice and equality.

I am engaging in this process as a consequence of locating my research in the new scholarship of educational enquiry.

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Zeichner approved of the idea of a scholarship of teaching, in relation to the professional learning of teachers. The standards of judgement, therefore, that I wish to be used in judging my claim to knowledge, and which evolved from my embodied values, include:. My claims to have developed a theory of practice as the acknowledgement of diversity, and to have generated a theory of social justice as equality of respect for all, evolved from my practice of providing a space for the recognition and valuing of Traveller culture, and from the organising of an after school group that created a space of equality of participation for Traveller and settled children.

The evidence to substantiate these claims will be produced as the thesis progresses, particularly in Chapters 8 and 9, which consider, respectively, the findings and the significance of my research. My research was conducted within the framework of an action research approach, such as that proposed by McNiff et al.

Throughout my research, therefore, I focused on the insights and on the enhanced learning that resulted from my reflections. This process enabled me to monitor my practice for the purpose of ascertaining what improvements had been achieved in my practice, as well as determining whether the quality of the educational experience of Traveller children had been enhanced. Through ongoing critical reflection on my practice as a Resource Teacher for Travellers, I focused on attempting to transform a capacity for prejudice into a possibility for inclusion, and on explaining how this could have a positive influence on the educational opportunities and life-chances of Traveller children.

In this section I intend to give a more explicit and in-depth account of my aims and purposes in undertaking my research, through clarifying the rationale that inspired me at the outset to engage in the research, as well as outlining the vision that helped to sustain it through all its vicissitudes and struggles. I will, therefore, summarise the main aims at this point, before going on to elaborate on the most salient ones.

The aims can be categorised under two headings: 1 issues of theory, and 2 issues of practice. However, the two issues are inter-related, as the theory itself takes the form of practical theorising of my practice, and so theory and practice are integrated in my research.

The initial aim that motivated me to undertake my research was a desire for improvement in a number of areas. In the first place, I wished to achieve improvement in the educational experiences of Traveller pupils, who, like other disadvantaged groups, tended to be marginalised by the dominant majority within the educational system.

This aim arose out of my commitment to social justice, which compelled me to seek equal opportunities in the area of educational provision for Traveller children.

Education Policy and Social Reproduction: Class Inscription & Symbolic Control

My self-reflection revealed the need for improvement in two areas of practice:. In Chapter 5, I provide evidence to demonstrate how I influenced a transformation in the two situations mentioned here, thus achieving the desired improvement in practice. A number of my aims can be linked to my values of respect for all, social justice, equality and democratic freedom. My commitment to lifelong learning Field, , which I view as a right for all people, not just a privilege for a chosen few, was the impetus that informed my aim to encourage Traveller children to continue their education to second level.

I perceived in this initiative the possibility of achieving equality of educational opportunity, through the initial steps of securing equality of access and equality of participation. My vision of lifelong education for all has begun to be realised in my practice, in the fact that in September , all six Traveller girls who completed their primary education in my school, transferred to secondary schools, and are still in the system a year later. This situation is in contrast to the one I outlined in the Background section in this chapter, where only two out of the six Traveller children, who completed their primary schooling in the year before I took up the position of RTT, remained in second level a year and a half later.

I aimed to encourage Traveller children to develop a sense of self-esteem and self-worth, which I believed would help them to benefit from their current participation in the educational system, and could also contribute to retaining them in second level schooling. Drudy and Lynch warn of the profound implications to the sense of self-esteem and self-identity of children who constantly experience negativity and failure in schools:.

Failure at school is construed as a problem of individual incapacity: we blame the victim for the inadequacy of the system, and the victim in turn internalises a sense of personal failure through the continuous experience of being labelled.

Guide Education Policy and Social Reproduction: Class Inscription & Symbolic Control

To counteract such destructive effects and to encourage Traveller children to become more self-confident, I enabled their voices to be heard through providing a space for them to articulate their experiences of discrimination. I describe this initiative in detail, and provide the evidence for it, in Chapter 6. Traveller children from an after school group, in which I am involved, were asked to represent the Traveller voice at regional level, and, through my encouragement, as I explain in Chapter 7, they articulated their views on the various topics under discussion, and also called for the recognition of Traveller culture, through the teaching of the Traveller language, Cant, within schools.

I submit that what occurred in this instance was an example of Freirean critical education, as articulated by Shor :. Freirean critical education invites students to question the system they live in, and the knowledge being offered them, to discuss what kind of future they want, including their right to elect authority and to remake the school and society they find.

In providing opportunities for Traveller children to develop greater confidence, I hoped to foster in them the genesis of a desire for self-determination. In agreement with Freire , I subscribe to the view that we can never give up the struggle for self-formation and self-determination.

The realisation of this aim would be consistent with my values around emancipatory life choices and democratic freedom as conditions for the achievement of equality of respect and for the recognition of the dignity of all human life. This situation reflects an antithetical stance to the dominant reductionist and essentialist view of Travellers, which regards them as incapable of making decisions around their own lifestyles.

The stereotyping of the Traveller community as people lacking the ability to determine the trajectory of their own lifestyles facilitates the making of decisions on their behalf by dominant others, a practice that devalues them as human beings and preserves them in a state of subjugation and dependency.

By enabling Traveller children to experience their formal educational process as more positive and liberatory, I hoped that the sense of optimism and expectation in relation to life-enhancing opportunities would extend to other areas of their lives. Education is but one thread, albeit a significant one, in the tapestry that is woven to form the social fabric of life. It is important, therefore, that the sense of self-worth and self-confidence, acquired by Traveller children through the process of schooling as the experience of social justice and equality, should transfer to other areas of their lives, so that they can experience transformation in these areas also.

The achievement of such transformative practices in wider social areas would support my claim that I have influenced what Whitehead calls the education of social formations, that is, enabling groups to understand how they can interrogate and transform the normative regulatory principles underpinning their social practices.

My purpose in aiming for an intercultural ethos within my school was to achieve equal status for Traveller culture with the dominant culture. An intercultural stance would value all cultures equally, thus working to eliminate the hierarchical system that promotes the dominant culture at the cost of denying the legitimacy of minority cultures. An intercultural approach would also favour pluralistic ways of living that would accommodate the concept of diversity.

Acceptance and recognition of diversity constitute the underpinning ontological values of my living theory of the practice of social justice, which I explicate in Chapter 9, where I discuss the significance of my research in terms of the living theories I have generated from my practice. Outlining the background to my research has enabled me to explain my reasons for undertaking my research in the area of Traveller education. It has provided the rationale for my focus on the achievement of educational provision that is grounded in principles of social justice and equality. Transforming the core values of social justice and equality that underpinned my research into living pedagogical standards of judgement has enabled me to establish the living standards of judgement by which I wish my research to be assessed.

I have explained the aims and purposes of the research, which are linked to my values and contribute to the web of meaning that is woven through the research process.


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This web of meaning, however, could not have authenticity without taking into account the historicity of the participants in the research. Both the Traveller children and I, as the main participants, were located in a specific time and place during the course of the research, a factor that had a significant influence on the research process.

In the next chapter, therefore, I will engage in an explication of the various contexts that appeared relevant to my research and I will outline their influence on the research process. In this chapter, I discuss the various contexts that appeared relevant to my research. The personal context section contains an outline of the events in my life that contributed to the formation of the ontological values and beliefs that I continue to hold, and that were instrumental in developing my present epistemological and pedagogical commitments.

In the section on locational context, I describe the area in which I work, in terms of the social, economic and educational factors existing in that milieu, and that could be perceived as potential sources of influence on my research. I recount the first appearance of Traveller children in my school, and contrast that experience with the present position of Traveller children in the school. The cultural context section traces briefly the history of the Traveller community, from their mainly nomadic lifestyle in rural Ireland to their present, relatively settled status as urban dwellers.

I also offer an explanation for the change in attitude of the settled community towards the Traveller community, a change from previous feelings of pity, empathy or at worst indifference, to more negative attitudes of resentment, dislike or intolerance. In the section on policy context, I outline the various attempts by government agencies to formulate policies for dealing with issues relating to Traveller people. I explain how, in contrast to the frequent oppressive practices of the settled community, official policy has moved somewhat from a view of Travellers as incompetent, poverty-stricken, dependants to a position of regarding them as a separate group, entitled to voice their opinions on matters concerning their welfare.

Finally, I discuss official educational policy in relation to Traveller children. In this section, I wish to uncover the aspects of self that informed and underpinned my self-study of my educational practice.

Pierre Bourdieu

In doing so, I will consider the major factors involved in the social construction of that self. I consider this to be true whether one, consciously or unconsciously, accepts or rejects the formative influences and values that are brought into play during the formation of concepts. The acceptance and rejection of earlier ideas are both equally valid reactions in the process leading to the development of new theories. Many advocates of reflective enquiry, for example, Jarvis and McNiff et al. In the context of my research, I suggest that my personal and professional development have had, and continue to have, implications for my ontological and epistemological stances.

This value has remained as a core concept of my ontology of practice, and has contributed to my present position of considering all people to be equally deserving of respect and dignity. My commitment to social justice, in all likelihood, has its origin in my experience of seeing how the St. Vincent de Paul Society demonstrated an ethic of care, in an unobtrusive way, for the less well off in the area in which I lived, thus helping to bring about a more socially equitable situation.

The values that I developed in my personal life inform the creation of my professional values, and this process is paralleled by the grounding of my professional identity in my personal identity. I contend that it is important, therefore, that I document here some of the events from my personal and professional history that have contributed to the forging of my identity, and that have exerted a considerable influence on the formation of the values and principles that sustain my lifeview.

I grew up in a small town in the southwest of Ireland. The secondary school I attended was equally small; there were four teachers when I began but this had increased to six teachers, still unusually small, by the time I finished. However, what was even more unusual about the secondary school than its small size was the fact that it was a mixed school, and that it was also a lay school, as opposed to one run by a religious congregation.

This was a rare phenomenon in Ireland in the s, though neither my fellow pupils nor I had any realisation of the uniqueness of our school at the time. It was not until I went to a teacher training college, having completed my Leaving Certificate, and realised that all the other students there had been educated by nuns in convent schools, that it became clear to me that my school was the unusual one. A further interesting feature of my schooling experience was the fact that all students, boys and girls, studied the same eight Leaving Certificate subjects. I am not suggesting that this situation resulted from a conscious decision on the part of the school authorities to promote gender equity, but rather that it was based on economic considerations, which meant that there was no choice of subjects, due to the small number of students attending the school.

This was not entirely surprising, as at that time Travellers were constantly moving around, mainly for economic reasons, such as to find occasional work, or to attend fairs and festivals, in order to eke out a living.

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As a result of this nomadic lifestyle, they only stayed for brief periods in any area, so that it was not feasible for the children to attend school. What I now, in retrospect, find incredible is that I cannot recall ever experiencing the voicing of feelings of horror, shock or even surprise, at the fact that Traveller children were almost totally excluded from the educational system, a reaction that I would expect to experience in the event of a similar situation today. However, during my schooldays, it seemed as if this situation was the norm, accepted unquestioningly by all. My early contact with Travellers, then, was of a limited nature.


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  5. It was mainly confined to seeing the Traveller women going from door to door seeking alms, whenever they happened to be in the locality. The women usually asked for, and invariably received, the basic essentials for human living, such as tea, sugar, bread and milk. Occasionally the women would have baskets containing religious objects, which they tried to sell.

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