This thesis is a philosophical and empirical investigation into the problems and possibilities of sharing education. Beginning with the question, ‘What is it possible to share in education?’ there is consideration of a number of major philosophical issues including: the role of religion in education, the appropriate level of state control of education, the rights of parents to choose and the rights of children to be autonomous. It is acknowledged that problems exist with common education in certain forms, but it is argued that there is a case for a conception of common education in liberal democracies that is not necessarily confined to common schools but which engenders sharing, dialogue, openness and criticality. Using the evolving situation of separate and shared education in Northern Ireland, a grounded theory approach is employed to understand the problems and possibilities for sharing in collaborative education projects involving schools of different ethos. As a result of this study a deeper understanding is achieved of the basic social processes experienced by teachers involved in sharing education, especially in relation to how the aims of sharing are framed (through ‘fitting’, ‘guarding’, ‘widening horizons’ and ‘avoiding’) and how the activity of sharing is managed (through ‘learning’, ‘leading’, ‘bridging’ and ‘struggling’.) This thesis concludes by arguing that when common education is considered as a (dynamic) concept, it opens up creative possibilities for resolving dilemmas around common and separate schooling. Further, where there is a balance between framing and activity in school collaboration, the opportunities for meaningful common education are enhanced. In practice this means increasing teachers’ motivation for sharing by exploiting their interests in ways that can be aligned with sharing activity; providing professional development opportunities where common tasks and goals are worked on by those with shared expertise or subject. interests; increasing opportunities for bridging activities which build trust and collegiality between teachers; ensuring that leaders achieve a balance between setting a clear direction and giving a voice to participants; providing opportunities for teachers to plan and act in cyclical ways that allows for the readjustment of framing and activity. As a result: boundaries between schools are less likely to be perceived as a line between incommensurable positions and more as a space where communication takes place; teachers will feel free to cross boundaries and develop ‘cosmopolitan’ traits and a culture of engagement can begin to replace a culture of avoidance.
|Date of Award||Jul 2013|
- Queen's University Belfast
|Supervisor||Tony Gallagher (Supervisor) & Noel Purdy (Supervisor)|