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A Non-authoritarian Approach to Secondary School Pedagogy: A Critical Action Research Project

Warren, S.S. (2014) A Non-authoritarian Approach to Secondary School Pedagogy: A Critical Action Research Project. PhD thesis, University of Worcester.

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Abstract

This thesis critiques authoritarian school policies and the pedagogic industry that overauthoritarianism has spawned to manage pupil behaviour. The overarching paradigm has been behavioural, centred on rewards and punishments. As a secondary school teacher I was deemed to be highly effective as an educator and disciplinarian by all objective measures, a no-nonsense, assertive persona championing authoritarian authority. I became disillusioned with this pedagogy of coercion and reached a point of professional ‘living contradiction’. I realised for the first time that the authoritarian teacher might actually be part of the problem, not the solution to poor discipline. I wished to develop a pedagogy in tune with my espoused values, developing positive teacher-pupil relationships which, I felt, might encourage both motivation in schoolwork and the development of pupils’ self-control and self-discipline. This thesis is an account of my intellectual and pedagogical journey to replace my authoritarian pedagogy with a way of teaching and learning based (in both directions) on respect, manners and friendly school relationships which is co-constructivist, encouraging pupils to be deeply involved in their own learning. I evidence the effect of this on classroom behaviour. I defend my relational pedagogical approach through a review of research literature alongside a three year action research with sixteen of my own classes, interrogating my performance to ask ‘Can non-authoritarian teachers contribute towards a well-ordered class of self-disciplined pupils?’ The reconnaissance stage locates this question in the context of my own educational history, the auto-biographical reflection validated through critical friends. The data collection phase used a range of instruments and reflective processes exploring how I wrestled with pedagogical issues when adopting a non-authoritarian approach, how I learned to be authoritative rather than authoritarian, and how I learned to deal with uncooperative pupils in new ways. In order to extend my new approach more broadly in the school, I worked with six volunteer colleagues, both experienced and newly qualified and I evaluate short and long term effects. I conclude by showing that effective pedagogy comes from positive teacher-pupil relationships which provide an effective solution to most low-level pupil indiscipline by establishing a culture and climate of cooperation and co-construction of learning.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information:

A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the University's requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.

A print copy of this thesis is held on Level 4 at the Hive.

Uncontrolled Keywords: non-authoritarian teachers, teacher-pupil relationships, secondary schools, teaching, learning
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1603 Secondary Education. High schools
Divisions: Academic Departments > Institute of Education
Depositing User: Janet Davidson
Date Deposited: 28 Sep 2015 09:11
Last Modified: 24 Nov 2015 09:24
URI: https://eprints.worc.ac.uk/id/eprint/3997

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