Exploring the ontological nature of teachers' conversations within a dominant ideology: A hermeneutic phenomenological inquiry

Author: Sharyn Schubert

Schubert, Sharyn, 2017 Exploring the ontological nature of teachers' conversations within a dominant ideology: A hermeneutic phenomenological inquiry, Flinders University, School of Education

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Ideologies operate in and through language to influence change. Conversations change over time and open questions relating to educational policy and practice. While current technocratic conversations associated with professional standards, professional development, strategic plans and performance accountability, are being heard, the ways of being a teacher in this conversation, situated in their day-to-day lived experience, is largely overlooked.

This hermeneutic phenomenological research explores, through teachers’ stories, the ontological nature of teacher’s conversations within a dominant ideology, and their sense of being-involved-with the things of their lifeworld. Everyday lived experiences of being a teacher are described and interpreted against the philosophical writings of Heidegger in particular, with reference to his book, ‘Being and Time’.

This research addresses the question: What is the ontological nature of teachers’ conversations within a dominant ideology? Conversation as dialogue opens ‘something’ living between us. Dialogue has no starting or ending point, only space in-between words allowing us to ‘see’ the other in conversation, not as objects but human beings. The teacher’s way of being involves a sensitivity which is felt beyond the physical, to involve noticing, looking and hearing others. The teacher’s conversation in this space shows itself in support, creativity, hope, inspiration and understanding. This ‘seeing ’ in conversation is beyond what is said; the conversation has a seeing intentionality embodied in being a caring and concerned teacher. This seeing appears in the teacher’s response, where in relationship with others, openness and closeness shows changing conversation. In this translation, teacher’s ways of comporting, leaps in and leaps ahead in conversations showing practical wisdom.

There is a call for seeing, conversation as dialogue, for seeing intentionality as changing conversation, and for seeing the danger inherent in conversation as context, when context moves towards the annihilation of the human spirit, edifying the machine, with its managers and technicians.

This research is consistent with other critical and humanistic approaches that question current educational practices favouring economics over other dimensions of human existence. This ideology of competition and individualism creates negative ways of being, seen in fear, distrust, alienation and felt structural barriers, limiting ways of being human. The research explores whether instrumental business models introduced into educational practice underpinning neoliberal ideology, inspire hopeful ways of being a teacher.

Keywords: conversations, neoliberalism, humanistic approach, education, teaching practice, phenomenology, policy-makers

Subject: Education thesis

Thesis type: Professional Doctorate
Completed: 2017
School: School of Education
Supervisor: Professor David Giles