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Journeying into the heart of schools: Dwelling in time, place and intimacy

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Thesis type
(Thesis) Ph.D.
Date created
Abstract This study describes one principal's journey into the heart of schools, exploring ways to humanize the institution. It develops the notion of schools as landscapes that shape and are shaped by those who inhabit them, dwelling in a mutually nurturing relationship. The study questions how we, in schools, can stay open to the fluidity, the interdependence inherent in a natural landscape. Typically, schools are defined by lines, boxes and boundaries, so unlike the organic interconnectedness of the natural world. As a principal within this institution called school, I wondered how to respond to the bureaucracy, to fulfill my role as the 'administrative officer,' and yet still look to the child, to the relationships I so value. How could I maintain my integrity amidst the relentless press of policies, procedures and standardization that pervade school culture? Bachelard-inspired reverie is at the heart of my methodology. It breathes life into my research. In writing from reverie, I find myself breathing with the world, reminded of the deep interconnectedness of life. It connects and reconnects me to the small, everyday moments that ground and inspire my work. Mine is a living inquiry. It embodies Buber's notion that all real living is meeting. My thinking, indeed my living, is responsive to the many others with whom I am continually engaged. It is through this responsiveness, this attentiveness, that I have come to a deeper understanding of my life practice. My encounters with others—the children, families and teachers with whom I am connected daily, the educational thinkers whose ideas inspire and challenge me, my family, and the landscape of my formative years—are embedded in the process of my work, and woven into my writing. We must imagine a way of being that honours our humanity, our relationships with one other, as the essence of our work in schools.
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Scholarly level
Supervisor or Senior Supervisor
Thesis advisor: Bai, Heesoon
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