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Ambiguities and Intertwinings in Teachers' Work: Existential dimensions in the midst of experience and global trends
Luleå University of Technology, Department of Arts, Communication and Education, Education, Language, and Teaching.
2014 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)Alternative title
Mångtydigheter och sammanflätningar i lärares arbete : Existentiella dimensioner bland erfarenheter och globala trender (Swedish)
Abstract [en]

The purpose of this thesis was set against the background of changed expectations on education and teachers’ work in contemporary Western societies, reflecting global educational trends of standardisation and assessment moving further down the ages. The overall aim of the thesis was to explore and gain understandings of how teachers’ work is constituted. The exploration was based on lived experience and philosophical perspectives, and the main research questions were: i) what is the significance of existential dimensions of teachers’ work, and ii) how can they be understood in the light of a globalised and standardised education? The theoretical and methodological basis of the thesis was mainly the philosophy of the life-world as formulated by Maurice Merleau-Ponty. The studies included employed the following methods: drawings with associated oral comments (study I), written teacher responses and follow-up interviews (study II), visual documentation with associated oral comments (study III), and finally, the study of the relevant philosophical literature (study IV). In total 50 teachers and 112 children participated in study I, ten teachers in study II and eight teachers in study III. In study IV, the data consisted of philosophical literature.The findings show that teachers’ work involves not only teachers’ intellectual capacities and skills, but also their emotional and embodied being, and intertwined relationships as well. Further, teachers’ work it affected not only by the views of children, knowledge and learning held by teachers, policymakers and society that affect teachers’ work, but also by ontological assumptions and existential dimensions in a wider sense. It emerged that teachers’ views of education and their attempt to appreciate the unpredictable beyond dualistic assumptions are holistic, and multidimensional, in comparison to the rather linear and standardised global agenda.The crossover analysis of the findings suggests that teachers’ work is mainly constituted by ambiguities and intertwinings of an ontological character that have epistemological implications. In this thesis ambiguities are used to describe aspects that at first seem contradictory but are in fact more like irreducible uncertainties – as intertwined and reversible aspects of teachers’ work as a whole. Accordingly, existential dimensions of teachers’ work are ubiquitous within these ambiguities and intertwinings, and appear as significant in mainly two ways – firstly, as closely connected dimensions of the life-world and lived experience, referred to as lived time, lived space, lived body and lived other; secondly, as basic notions mainly about the relationships between i) subject and object, ii) mind and body, iii) human, culture and nature, iv) linear and multidimensional temporality. These existential dimensions of teachers work are discussed as Intercorporeal reversibilities (mind and body, subject and object), Intertwinings, chiasm and flesh (human, culture and nature) and A chiasmic be(com)ing (linear and multidimensional temporality). The ambiguous aspects of teachers’ work seem to derive from a general ambiguity of views on education, in which the rationalistic view tends to dominate since it often reflects the management of education. This overall ambiguity demands a reconsideration of the wider aim of education as well as of different relationships within education beyond dualisms and divides. Particularly, intercorporeal and intertwined relationships are essential, encompassing the significant intertwinings of ‘subjectobject’, ‘mindbody’, and ‘humannatureculture’. It is argued that this rethinking needs to be done in order to create conceptual and operational space for diverse and challenging pedagogical relationships. Thereby, a process of a chiasmic be(com)ing for teachers in their work and for children’s learning can be enhancedKey words: teachers’ work; teaching; school; early childhood education; lived experience; existential; pluralistic; Merleau-Ponty

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Luleå: Luleå tekniska universitet, 2014.
Doctoral thesis / Luleå University of Technology 1 jan 1997 → …, ISSN 1402-1544
Keyword [en]
Social sciences - Education
Keyword [sv]
Teacher work, Teaching, School, Early childhood education, Lived experience, Existential, Philosophy of education, Intertwined relations, Socialvetenskap - Pedagogik
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:ltu:diva-17176Local ID: 20b0cc80-7e4c-4a07-878d-4c28140067cbISBN: 978-91-7439-866-3ISBN: 978-91-7439-867-0 (PDF)OAI: diva2:990175
Godkänd; 2014; 20140120 (suswes); Nedanstående person kommer att disputera för avläggande av filosofie doktorsexamen, Namn: Susanne Westman Ämne: Pedagogik / Education Avhandling: Ambiguities and Intertwinings in Teachers’ Work Existential Dimension in the Midst of Experience and Global Trend Opponent: Docent Ulf Blossing Institutionen för pedagogik och specialpedagogik Göteborgs universitet Ordförande: Professor Eva Alerby Avdelningen för pedagogik, språk och ämnesdidaktik Institutionen kont, kommunikation och lärande Luleå Tekniska Universitet Tid: Fredag den 21 mars 2014, kl. 10.00 Plats: D770, Luleå tekniska universitetAvailable from: 2016-09-29 Created: 2016-09-29Bibliographically approved

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