Political Relationship and Narrative Knowledge: A Critical Analysis of School Authoritarianism

Political Relationship and Narrative Knowledge: A Critical Analysis of School Authoritarianism

Political Relationship and Narrative Knowledge: A Critical Analysis of School Authoritarianism

Political Relationship and Narrative Knowledge: A Critical Analysis of School Authoritarianism

Synopsis

A model of hope for teachers struggling against inhumane and authoritarian bureaucracies, applying Habermas's critique of prevailing technocratic schooling and its danger to the public sphere of reason.

Excerpt

It has been claimed that "periods of advance" in education occur when there is a close link between theory and practice (Simon 1994, 6). Theory and practice should be united in a narrative critical education science, which is partly what I do in this study. However, theoreticians work with the language of deductive logic and science, while "practitioners work with narrative knowledge" (Polkinghorne 1988, x). So a problem which evolved from an engagement with practice concerned the two different kinds of language arising from two different ways of organizing reality.

The research sprang from critical reflection on the problematic, political practices of my school and teaching situation. I had taught for one year fulltime in a British grammar school from 1971 to 1972 when the school amalgamated with a secondary modern to form a comprehensive. I followed the political practices and episodes of the amalgamation in relation to their political and educational significance and the ongoing story in order to understand what we were doing and where we were going. It then seemed that the amalgamation resulted in an ineffective and underperforming school as I saw it, and I tried to introduce practical and constructive changes. The most significant effect of the amalgamation may have been the slide from a small school into a large, bureaucratic organization and a situation where the size of the structure dominated the individual. The decisions taken by the authorities seemed to be based on common sense and political expediency rather than critical, educational analysis and strategic choice. Another problem seemed to be the divorce of educational practice from educational theory; another was a weak political public sphere for political communication to promote change. So I critically analyzed the political practices and . . .

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