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Developing More Democratic Modes of Teacher-Pupil Relationships: 'The Early Years Listening and Talking Project'
In this age of educational 'All Change, Please', notions of democratic education, children's rights and child centred teaching are beginning to seem a little quaint. Somehow the 'Early Years - Listening and Talking' project got through before the words, testing, accountability and core curriculum began to mesmerise Local Education Authorities. This project received a GRIST (Grant Related In-Service Training) award of £10,000 before it was reduced - as were other projects - by 20% because someone in administration noticed the LEA had over spent by nearly £1,000,000. Nevertheless, this little project still was able to fund myself for a day a week during term time, plus provide supply cover to release one teacher, one day per week. This in itself is a considerable achievement. It makes the idea of a whole school action research project possible and allows a detailed data-base to be developed. From this it is this it is possible to generate a detailed analysis of the processes through which teachers come to terms with the issues which a radical project raises, particularly in this period of intense political pressure upon schools.
It has always concerned me that education seems to have so, little to say about anything. That is to say, although disciplines such as sociology, philosophy, psychology, as well as -politicians without any expertise or knowledge of education can always find something to say about education, education has nothing to say in return. There is no educational critique of society, politics, sociology, philosophy, psychology or any thing else. Education is a rag bag of ideas, techniques, mottos and too often self-righteous edicts derived from other disciplines, belief systems or popular culture. In developing the ideas for this action research project, I wanted to begin to establish why this is so, and in doing so, offer a way in which education can find its own voice, rather than speak with other voices for purposes that are often clearly non-educational.
So what do I mean by an educational perspective? I have made several attempts to formulate ideas concerning the nature of an educational perspective in previous publications (1983, 1984,1986, 1988). Here is one such attempt:
Educational options arise when the seriousness of a structure, of a pattern of thought, or of behaviour is opened to the play of imagination. An individual's subjective experience of the world is explored and its potential for communication and for future development realised through habits of reflection, thought, and action, learnt over a lifetime. Following well-worn tracks is easier than forging new tracks. Education attends to such tracks, laying bare their directions, processes of construction, and implications for self and community. ln such an educative process, the potential for new tracks and new patterns of tracks is promoted, experienced (in actuality or in imagination), assessed, and disseminated. Steps towards outlining the process of educational action, can therefore be identified under the following headings:
- mapping the patterns of thought. reflection, and action by which an individual makes sense of his or her experience; or, identifying the tracks, life-course, curriculum of everyday life;
- deconstructing, disassembling, unearthing the processes through which such patterns are supported, constructed, promoted, maintained in operation;
- inviting imaginative play by which to vary, de-form, re-form <in alternative patterns),
- transform the patterns or structures in order to educe (draw out, educate) their potential
- beyond prevailing forms of thought, reflection, action/expression; assessing the results of the imaginative play;
- disseminating the results of an educative process;
- formulating educative courses of action.
This conception of education is radically distinct from traditional content-dominated, teacher led, transmission models of schooling. The difference is made clear in the following description of the two distinct kinds of curricula recognised by the educational process I have outlined:
These are: the everyday life curriculum; and the educative curriculum. The educative curriculum has as the object of its processes the everyday life curriculum. The everyday life curriculum may be further subdivided in any way which is found to be convenient. For example, it may identify the official curricula of schooling, the hidden curcicula of -schooling, and those self-elected curricula (i.e., options, courses of action and so on) chosen by the individual (cf. Schostak 1983). The educative course of the individual in his or her relations with the world is thus the proper field of action for the teacher who wants to take an educational standpoint. Teaching then involves revealing, demonstrating, showing those patterns which an educational analysis lays bare and engaging with others in formulating properly educational responses.
( p - 120-1)
Only through developing more democratic modes of teacher-pupil relationships can an educational programme along these lines be developed. 'The Early Years Listening and Talking Project' is an attempt to see what is at stake when democratic modes of operation are introduced. In this paper I will try to give a compressed account of the first two months of the project beginning with the context through which the initiative for it emerged.
Background to the Project
The initial ideas for the project arose when in 1986 1 advertised around the LEA for people who wanted to join a mutual support research group. I promised no funding. Over 130 replied. I obviously could not manage to work with this many so I attempted to encourage people to form into smaller mutual interest groups. It did indicate, however, the demand or the neeg for such groups to emerge. Amongst these groups one small group of first school teachers began to develop some very interesting work. Their chosen topic was simply that of listening to what children say when they attempt to resolve problems. This proved to be both far more problematic and more radical than it at first sounded. I became very involved with this group watching the ideas emerge, helping to form research strategies and eventually, helping to shape the present research project, now funded two years later. Without the help and persistence of the person who ran a local Teachers' Centre and was in all the right committees, the ideas would not have seen the light of day in funded form.
This is not a typical problem solving project. The problems which emerge are often unanticipated and are as much to do with social and emotional problems as academic problems. That is to say, they do not easily form neat subjects, or required skills as set out in the levels of attainment expected in national testing or the Core curriculum. In short. the agenda of concerns arises from the everyday experiences of the school as a community within a wider community. That is to say, the educative process begins by systematically reflecting upon the everyday curriculum of a given individual or group. Here is an early videoed example:
scene: it is a first school classroom, there are just under 60 children in a large room which has been used as two classrooms. There are two teachers and one welfare assistant. It is nearly dinner time and the children have just cleared up their work. One of the teachers has just praised them an the excellence of their work and clearing up their work quickly and neatly. She goes on to say:
T: Before we have our lunch .. could I just speak to for a moment..
T: Um .. Quite a few people have come and said that other -people are bothering them. I think people came and said me that Alan was bothering them and people came and said to
me that Mary was bothering them. What do you think you should do in that situation? What do you think is the best thing to do, Jill?
Jill: Go on the carpet.
T: Go on the carpet and sort it out. You can just say to the person "You are bothering me, please come with me on the carpet and we can sort it out. Now, what are you going to do it you can't sort it out, it's too hard? What do you think you could do then? Jane?
Jane: Come and fetch you.
T: Yes, come and fetch some help and then we'll, we'll help. There's no point in coming and saying to me "Alan did this and Mary did that", because I'm not going to sort it out for you. ... OK? So, let's try that and see how it goes. Alright?
If it is within the realm of the everyday life curricula of individuals to seek solutions to their own pressing problem then it is part of the educative curriculum to provide structures through which a range of possible solutions can be examined and assessed for their utility. An essential ingredient in this process as practiced by this teacher is not to provide instant solutions, but to provide only a structure through which solutions can be achieved by the children themselves. In examining this instance of a refusal by a teacher to resolve problems for the children we find that it was deliberately sat within a public context in which a short explanation of the strategy to be employed was given. There were numerous other such examples during the day, each day. During each such 'public refusal' a model of community behaviour and action was also raised and progressively elaborated Upon in slightly different contexts in response to a wide range of problems, some trivial. some emotionally exacting. The overall aim of the school was to develop negotiating skills in the children as a means to creating to reflective, caring community. In order to do this, they ha-i to bring to the forefront the agenda of concerns of the children themselves as well as create structures through which the children were active agents in their own right, determining their own courses of action within clear processes of negotiation. As children became active agents in the negotiation process in their own right, so the relations between not only children but also between the children and the teachers became increasingly democratic. This policy slowly worked its way throughout the school so that all children from reception class to fourth years were involved.
During all of this I was merely the innocent bystander watching the school transform itself, hoping to record something of the process. If only we had some funding we said. The funding came. But it came too late. However, a new problem had emerged. Can this process be encouraged to occur elsewhere?
The current project (nb., at the time of writing it was 1988!) hopes to record how the lessons learnt from the previous school can be used by another school. However, it is only at the initial stages, so, I describe here only the process of coming to grips with new practices. In doing this, further problems occur to me: 1) are we merely socialising? 2) who is to say that the new ways being advocated in the project are educational and the previous ways are not? in short, what are the principles by which one could distinguish the educational from the non-educational? In order to explore these questions let me describe the first steps in which the project’s ideas were introduced to the new school.
The New School: First Steps
The new school is very different. The staff are very unused to change. They have been used to formal methods of teaching and learning. Their headteacher sees the project as her major hope to transform the school. She has used 'Baker Days' (named after the then Minister of Education who introduced them as a training day), directed time and the supply cover paid by the project to full effect to ensure that her staff give the time to the project. The question immediately arises at this point, is this just another -headteacher making use of a project to exert authority over staff? That is, is the desire to transform the school educational, or is it, for example, political? Perhaps, it does not matter what the original impetus is, as long as those engaged in the process find that the project enhances their freedom of expression.
When the project was advertised around the authority to attract a school willing to participate, it was made a condition that all members of the staff should freely accept the project, otherwise the school would not be accepted as a project school. This they did so enthusiastically, although somewhat anxiously. However, there is little doubt that the headteacher does hope that the project will stir up her staff. This in itself may leai:i. at some future point to difficulties. It is. of course too soon to say. However, by its very nature, education re-frames the predictable in ways which render it unpredictable. if people are not feel at a loss, their initial steps must be with the familiar and with values they perceive as essentially durable. Thus. The research process begins by examining the everyday concerns of teachers.
Although the impetus for the project began in school, it is not the aim at the project simply to transport the ideas developed in one school to another school. For this reason, the teachers were asked to develop their own specific interests within the broad aim of the project which was 'the detailed study of and development of the talking and listening skills that children need in order to negotiate, solve problems and share ideas.' It was added that, 'The range of situations which require skills of negotiation, problem solving etc are not limited solely to academic work. Children find themselves in a range of social and emotional situations which require the skills of negotiation and problem solving.' It was explicitly stated that 'The object is to bring about a sense of independence, confidence and capability in children as they learn to solve their own social and academic problems' with 'The emphasis ... upon learning together, working together, playing together in a community where pupils through their language skills know how to resolve their own problems.'
The next aim of the project was to generate a sense at ownership and thus commitment to the project. So, to begin the process of change each member of staff was asked what they wanted out of the project. We went round, one by one, each developing tentative idea. No one had ever done anything like this before. Yet ideas did emerge after a long initial silence, and after some laughter at their nervousness they began:
Reception teacher: Personally, I think I'd like to make the children as responsible as possible for their own learning, for their personal motivation. To get them used to relying on themselves. ( ... ) And also to set up group situation where they could learn to give and take and to contribute in a positive manner to group learning situations and problem solving .... And that they actually learn to listen to each other and to people instead of sitting there with a blank expression on their faces (laughs). it's not just the talking part that's important it's the listening skills that go with it.
2nd year teacher: I would echo all of that as well. 1 want children to learn to cooperate with each other much more than they do. 1 don't think people in general cooperate very well xxx if we started as early as possible, you knowl it would really improve.
The values of 'cooperation', 'relying on themselves', ‘learning -to give and take' became the seed ideas with which the project could begin. These were values which the teachers considered important, but they are not necessarily by virtue of that fact, educational values but are perhaps the ethical values, even political values necessary to support democratic forms of behaviour. They do, therefore, signal a certain kind of social standpoint which has consequences for teaching and learning. With this in mind, the teachers could set up situations, or focus upon situations for research purposes. The research process itself encourages educational processes. Through systematic reflection upon the everyday an agenda of issues, themes, interests and needs are examined from a multiplicity of viewpoints. This, in itself generates a range of possible interpretations and actions which can follow from these. ln research terms this process is called triangulation.
The role of ‘triangulation', is to ground interpretations in shared experiences by the process of obtaining a multiplicity of viewpoints in order to determine what is common and what is unique to the various viewpoints concerning a given situation. Through triangulation one comes to understand the diversity of -possible viewpoints upon a given object. That is. it facilitates a 'drawing out' or, an 'education' of alternative ranges of possibilities. This seems to me to be fundamental to the educative experience.
By setting initial self-elected tasks based upon the ideas they had expressed concerning their own ambitions for the project, the teachers were able to generate situations which could be the object of recording and so begin the process of systematically drawing out alternative ranges of possibility both for interpretation and for action within given circumstances. The following Wednesday, I helped to video several classroom situations. The next two weeks after that, I sat with individual teachers re-watching the videos.
The Education of Experience
As an example, I will take the reception class teacher, call he-,-. Louise. First we watched the video without much comment. I sat making a few notes. After a while we stopped the tape and discussed what we saw.
The task itself was very simple. The children had been given the problem - what do the class's pet gerbils do when everyone has gone home at night?'. They were told to make up 9storyl in pictures. What it was and how they were to do it was up to them. Upon re-looking at the video what struck the teacher was not the development of the 'story' itself, but all the talk which 'spun off' from the topic. In other words, she saw at once an alternative range of interpretations of what the children had been doing. Previously, her focus had been constrained as how well they had performed the central topic. In this light, only one child had actually completed a drawing, the others had very skimpy sketches to show for half-an-hour’s work. However, listening to the talk, an alternative agenda became apparent. The talk could be mapped in terms of the central idea, with branches from it indicated associated ideas: a semantic or conceptual web - often called a 'spider's web'. The work or curriculum activity could thus be reinterpreted not simply in terms of the narrow focus, but in terms of the wider network of associations which developed and engaged the attention of the children around the original more narrowly conceived task:
This was also spontaneously noticed later by other teachers in their own recorded work. We began to think in terms of this network of associations spun during conversation as the mapping out of an area of curriculum reflection and exploration. Each, point marked by the branches gave further possibilities for -exploration developed by the children's own interests and initiative but which typically passed unnoticed in the classroom until revealed by the video. Which element in the network of associated ideas will they concentrate upon and explore in detail? If they become interested in one associated idea, it may then become ‘boring’ to have to return to the 'set work' which had sparked off the network of associations. Why then, should they return to the 'set work':
Teacher: What is the purpose of having set that task? Or do you need to bring them back to the task because it's an innate part of the curriculum or have you used the task to set up a skill which that task, which the task they've put themselves onto could fulfill just as well?
JFS: Yeah. So you could actually say well, what are the skills, what are the areas of knowledge which this suddenly draws in ... and then assess it in terms of the skills and knowledge that that draws in, rather than assess it in terms of how well they've kept to the original task ... (this way of assessing and working) would be difficult for a teacher to keep hold of, as it were
Teacher: mmm I was just thinking that, and how would it set against the ideas of the national curriculum? (laughter)
Here for the time the teacher was able to reflect closely upon the processes through which children work. As the conversation developed here and elsewhere, she began to grasp the idea of children themselves playing with ideas rather than simply reproducing ideas. This play, however, we began to notice was very much set against an inhibiting framework of expectations. At one level, there were the social and political expectations of what one should be doing, currently proclaimed under the banner of the 'core curriculum', and accompanied by cries of 'back to the basics' and calls for standards and national testing. At another -level, there were the definitions of what counts as education already firmly held by these five year old children in their very first few days of schooling. They already knew what teachers were supposed to want, they knew how pupils could behave and what counted as work as opposed to play. Work was something done for teachers and was to be carried out privately, competitively:
Teacher: Umm Sandra has just said "I'm doing a blue sky'' so Susan went on and said "So am I" (and so did the others). Sandra said "Stop copying". And then they developed this as to who was allowed to copy and who wasn't.
JFS: Right, so the shared idea then jars very much with the sort of privatised learning idea ( ...)
Teacher: (…) then Sandra and uh Susan negotiated with that, that "I'm allowed to copy, aren't I Susan 'cos I'm your friend". ( ... ) They were virtually redefining who was her friend and who wasn't. And uh Alice was very much on the outskirts because she wasn't really allowed to copy but she was in the end. She negotiated to be allowed to copy.
Through the structure of the task in the context of what counts as appropriate school behaviour the kinds of identities that people can share and construct with each other within the group were also constructed. Within the group also, as became apparent a little later in the conversation, was a 'phantom entity' which we called 'the phantom teacher'. It arose when the teacher- remarked that one of the children came 'to ask me and not the group as to whether she had finished or not'. The children hold a powerful model of school behaviour. If a lesson was to count as being a lesson, it became apparent it had to assume that: l) the teacher is the expert, 2) the teacher defines the job, and 3) defines when enough has been done to satisfy the task. if a definition of education is to emerge which empowers children to play with ideas and explore their own interests, then clearly this tradition and narrow definition of education has to be challenged:
Teacher: I met great amazement when I admitted 1 did not know everything and that I was still learning from them at times. And they did not believe me and they did not accept that 'cos I was the teacher and they were the children.
In this is a whole history of not only teacher-pupil, but also parent-child relationships. Standing between a child and his or her own free enquiry is a third party, this third party is the authoritative adult whether in the guise of parent or of teacher. It is this third party which ties together the whole set of behaviors traditionally counted as education. However, there was in this case no commitment by the pupils to the task itself:
Teacher: There were no group discussions when they finished the task at all, they just all got up
If this is to change, then children themselves must be inducted into the new processes, not simply the teachers. The pupils' own model of education must itself chance. It is not enough to manipulate the environment so that the children 'discover' by themselves. That is still a form of covert authoritarianism which acts in between the child's own interests and replaces those interests with the interests of the adult:
Teacher: I think I do that some of the time. especially with mathematical concepts. Um, if you're trying to - maybe not so much with this age group. But certainly with the older ones you try to lead them to make the discoveries for themselves ( ... )
JFS: Mmm, mm. No, I was just thinking that7 it they're to get the hang of division of labour, for example, then they need to be in a situation where the decisions about who does what is important
Teacher: Oh, I see what you mean
JFS: and someone is sitting with them saying 'Right, who's going to do such and such ..?' (... ) So actually, posing, um, generating the conversation which will eventually become a part of their thinking pattern, but isn't at the moment.
In this exchange, both the teacher and I struggle with the concept and in our different ways fall into the same trap. We both want to tinker with the thinking patterns of the child to produce adult desired responses. Returning to the notion of education as playing with possibilities, does one set up such a situation, or must one simply wait for it to occur and then in? The teacher, reflected upon her own reasons for setting up the task in the first place:
Teacher: I was trying to set up a situation that may be ... just for the video. And I have still got to get used to the -idea of doing it as a perfectly natural part of the classroom activity. And I think how I might approach it next time is to .. think about the sort of tasks that 1 would like them to be involved in and then work out what might be best to record out of those tasks rather than thinking of a task to video. See what 1 mean? What with this age group particularly, you've got to give them the guide lines and narrowly limit their choices so that they get security and then they can start branching out by
themselves. But you've got to do it in such a way that you don't stifle their initiative and curiosity.
I try to place this within some concept of making patterns, as in Gestalt theory. There is a sense in which one learns to see. Where some just see marks on a page, others see pictures. Hence the problem from the educational point of view is to create a pattern which contains within it a series of choice points which are there in a structured way.
Teacher: Something which cropped up last week in, as a follow-on from James and the Giant Peach ( ... ). We let the children make some centipede models. Well, they could choose their size of body (..) they could choose the colours and the pattern of the hat that they were going to do. And initially, I found the children, once they had really started off on it, were just randomly sticking, sticking the Sticky paper down anywhere (..) So, then I limited the choice to two colours. And the final result is that they took much more care and thought about it.
The teacher saw her task in terms of controlling the degree of choice available to the children in order to ensure they produced work which she could recognise as good. She was thus shaping, or educating the range of choices in teacher specific ways because the children were playing with colour in ways which the teacher -perceived as random. Who is it then. that has to be educated to see what?
Rather than engaging with the children in reflection upon what they were doing she changed the rules under which they could make choices. hence inhibiting the process of reflection and drawing out or education of alternatives. The problem from the educational point of view, therefore, is, how does one preserve choices and encourage reflection upon alternative courses of action?
The encouragement of such reflection may be made More complex because the pupils' agenda of concerns, purposes, interests and values may not coincide with that of the teachers'. Artificially restricting choice in order to produce a teacher desired result does not solve the problem. The problem becomes all the more serious if the pupils' agenda of concerns is dominated by social and emotional problems. Here is an example which is becoming to attract a considerable amount of attention not only by the class teacher but also by the headteacher and the deputyhead. It arose quite casually as a third year teacher reflected upon her observations and recordings of a particular boy's behaviour in a small group:
teacher: (although the rest of the group had helped him and had discussed the story amongst themselves) .. when he comes to write his up it has nothing to do with what they've been doing. He can't sort of, keep the concentration an 'this is what I'm supposed to be doing. Um, he'll write something completely different (laughs).
This is said with a great air of puzzlement. The concept of a short concentration span is used to explain the bay's lack of work. 1 asked whether anything else is known about the boy, outside of the school environment. She immediately responds with what she knows of the boy’s current family situation:
Teacher: .. he lives with mother, father's elsewhere. Father comes down and collects him for a weekend. Um, if he knows father's uh. if he knows he's going to spend a weekend with father then he's up in the air the whole week and he can think of nothing but 'I'm going with my dad'. And when he's come back from that, i’ it's, .. then 'I've been with my dad. We get that for several days until he's calmed down again.
Later the headteacher told me that the boy has been involved in a number of unprovoked assaults on other children. She said, 'there's no reason for them'. Yet, upon inquiring about the child's home experiences 1 am told that he had been on the receiving end of violent behaviour when the father was living with the family. And when the boy goes to his father's at the weekend he is forced to do school work, such as learning his tables. The father appears to make very high academic demands upon his son. In short, the child has a considerable amount on his personal life agenda which he has to deal with before he can deal with ordinary school demands. What role should the school play in this? Is there an educational response? How can the school help him to reflect constructively upon his life situation?
To answer these questions, we must reconsider the origins of the project. This was raised quite bluntly at a staff meeting to consider the work of the project by the headteacher. At the start of the staff meeting she gave a report of her visit to the school in which the ideas of the project originated.
A Staff Meeting
HT: (Explains had been to other school) .. if you’d like to know a little bit about what they're doing there. Are you interested Arthur (the deputyhead)?
DH: Well, it says on the agenda
HT: Well, I just said to Jane, it people want to…
DH: Suits me.
In this little Exchange is contained a whole history of conflict and frustration. It is not worth developing the story. But it is worth reflecting on the social context within which an innovation takes place. After describing the size of the school and the points of comparison between the two schools she describes the negotiation strategies employed by the teachers:
HT: They start talking to children about their behaviour and trying to get children to negotiate about the problems that they have right from down in the reception class and yesterday afternoon, I spent all afternoon in the reception class and watched how they dealt with it.
And, when a child pushes or is aggressive um, they stop what the class is doing um and they all talk about it. The two children involved talk about it. And the one who's been pushed or kicked or whatever, says how they feel. And the more aggressive child then tries to explain why he or she did that. Uh, and then the class talk about it as a whole and the teacher talks about it with them. And they try and work it out from there. So right from reception they're trying to build up this responsibility where children responsible for their own actions.
(She describes how it Started off)
They started off at first by the head and the deputyhead doing all playground duties. And when there was a problem in the playground then they would both say exactly the same thing. They had both the same words that they would say to the children which was something in the line of "Go to Mrs Stone's office and talk it out-between yourselves. And the teacher in the playground had a tape recorder and there was a tape recorder in the office as well and they tape recorded everything that was said. And at that time she didn't actually say "I want to know what your decision is", and they just talked it out. And then after a few weeks she got round to saying to them "and I want to know what you've decided ."
This description was rounded off by saying that there were very few behaviour problems in the school despite it having a high number of statemented children (that is to say, children who have a ‘statement’ of special educational needs’). Both the staff and the other -children take on board the problems of the statemented children. They are raised publicly as group problems and the class is posed the problem of suggesting ways of helping or -supporting other children. As for the more mundane organisational routines: for example, the pupils do not line to enter school, they go straight into class, whether or not the teacher is there; at assembly time they go from their class to the hall when they're ready and sit wherever they want.
The responses to this description were various. The reception teacher thought that many of the behaviour problems had been solved simply by removing the occasions when boredom and crowd situations arose. Others, notably the deputyhead teacher was appalled that children could enter the school whenever they liked. 'Who was supervising them?' He demanded. He considered that it was only natural that children would mess around and problems would occur. The headteacher explained that the children had learnt to be responsible through the strategies employed by the school. She explained that in many ways the school was very hard on the child. Problems were brought to class even the whole school's notice. In this sense, one person's problem was treated very much as a whole community's problem.
HT: They’ve got a handicapped child that came in with his mother yesterday morning. And mum started to say to the Head and he said 'No, I can say it' And so she said, 'Yes you tell me Phillip' and uh, I I keep getting pushed over in the playground and it frightens me' And it turned out that he's very much like Emily that the slightest sort of knock to him just sends him reeling. He's not very well co-ordinated, falls over very easily. So he was allowed to stand up in assembly and tell the other children how he felt when he got knocked over and why his legs were bad because held had lots of operations and held got pins in and how it frightened him. And they all came up with suggestions of how they could help him and how they could, you know, make it easier for him in the playground.
In this way the school exerted a control that was defined through the generation
of a sense of community and the sense of self-advocacy contributed towards the
emergence of democratic relations-amongst pupils and staff. It was the high
degree of commitment necessary to achieve this as well as the continuous staff
self-examination and co-ordination that worried the staff -as they listened
to the headteacher. Nothing was simple anymore, everything was open for discussion
particularly belief systems and a sense of expertise built up over years. To
the extent their sense of identity was defined in the previous stable context
of beliefs and action, this too was under question. They
felt that they would have to take things very slowly. Yet, if action research is to mean anything at all, it is as a reflective, dialectical process through which educative communities are continually formed and re-formed. Elsewhere 1 wrote, if education for the individual is to have anything to say and do in the world, it is as a 'process of questioning, reflecting critically upon experience and forming and fashioning the world towards one's own intentions: premissed on an unconditional freedom of thought and independence in action.’ (1986). To this, I would add, that a necessary condition for the development of an educative community is a democratic structure through which the agendas of schooling are created and negotiated by the actors involved as equals and not imposed. I do not intend these remarks as final statements. The project continues, its end is as yet quite unpredictable.
Schostak, J. F. (1983) Maladjusted Schooling,. Deviance, Social Control and Individualitv in Secondary Schooling, London and Philadelphia, Falmer.
Schostak, J. F. (1986) Schooling the Violent Imagination, London, New York, RKP.
Schostak, J. F. (ed) (1988) Breaking into the Curriculum. The impact of information technology on schooling, London, New York, Methuen.
Schostak, J.F., and Logan T. (1984) Pupil Experience, London,