University of Worcester Worcester Research and Publications

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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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 Discrete 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: College of Arts, Humanities and Education > School of Education
Depositing User: Janet Davidson
Date Deposited: 28 Sep 2015 09:11
Last Modified: 17 Jun 2020 17:08

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