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Ecer 2014 busher-students voices

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Ecer 2014 busher-students voices

  1. 1. Listening to Students’ Voices to enhance inclusive schooling Hugh Busher School of Education University of Leicester Presented to NW10 ECER 2014
  2. 2. Pre-amble • Listening to the multiplicity students’ voices helps teachers to tune their teaching and organisational practices to the social and cognitive needs of students • It helps students to have a sense of ownership of their learning and of the school of which they are part. • The paper draws on two studies of student voices carried out in England in Secondary schools between 2006 and 2012 that investigated students’ views of teaching, learning and their school as an organisation. Aug 2014 School of Education, University of Leicester 2
  3. 3. The Two Studies • The two studies varied in size, but used a constructivist perspective (Lave and Wenger, 1991) to investigate students’ views of teaching, learning and their school in its socio-political contexts. Neither had fewer than 30 participants and all used semi-structured interviews with students and teachers, as well as non-participant observation by researchers as the main data collection instruments. The qualitative data was audio-recorded, transcribed and analysed using inductive or open coding (Corbin and Strauss, 2008) that reflected students’ views rather than researchers’ prior conceptions. • Study One was of Year 9 (Y9, 13-14 year old) students of English in a state Secondary school in England (Cremin, Mason and Busher, 2011, Busher and Cremin 2012) serving a mixed multi-cultural catchment area of private and social housing. • Study two was of Y9 Science students (Tas and Busher, 2011, Busher and Tas 2012) in two state Secondary Schools in England, one serving a largely mono-cultural rural area and one an urban multi-cultural but largely economically disadvantaged area. Aug 2014 School of Education, University of Leicester 3
  4. 4. School as a social arena riven with asymmetrical power • Students and teachers have a clear awareness of the contradictions of policy, power and voice (Busher and Cremin, 2012) and of the official and unofficial discourses in a school. These interactions reflect the interactions of agency and structure in particular policy contexts (Paechter 2007), the influence of these on students’ and teachers’ constructions of their school/ work-place identities (Pierce, 2007) and on the construction of their school’s organisational culture (Busher, 2006). • These relationships can be investigated through studying ‘first hand’ what people do or say in particular contexts or cultures (Hammersley, 2006: 4), answering questions about participants’ perspectives on learning, teaching and educational issues (Walford, 2008) in particular social, economic and policy contexts, including the macro, local and organisational-cultural contexts in which people interact. • It can help investigate how people use and experience power in communities and between individuals and understand the relationship of culture to social structures and how participants in particular social situations choose to act (Georgiou & Carspecken, 2002). Aug 2014 School of Education, University of Leicester 4
  5. 5. Discourses of performativity shape schooling • Discourses of performativity that are constructed within educational sites, such as schools, (Jeffrey and Troman, 2012) shape the perspectives of participants such as teachers, school students, head teachers and support staff. • Many national governments, often for claimed economic reasons, construct and police schooling and teachers’ work using performative models of ‘techno-bureaucratic managerialism’ (Apple, 2000). • Education is both a site and a conduit for struggles (Foucault, 1976) through which teachers and students experience the tensions of being and becoming as they (re)construct their identities (Giddens, 1991; Kearney, 2003) in situational contexts. • The pursuit and enactment of self-identity is central to the development of agency (Giddens, 1991) through which people interact with others and with constructed social systems/structures (Giddens, 1984). They are of central importance to students’ and teachers’ development of themselves as learners, community members of a school and citizens. • However, schools often restrict democratic participation by students and teachers in shaping institutional practices, but expect them to adhere to policies (Deakin et.al., 2004). Aug 2014 School of Education, University of Leicester 5
  6. 6. Constructing discourses and voices in schools • The participants in a school include all staff and students and possibly other stakeholders, such as parents, too. Through struggling with national and local discourses on education, people construct their own particular cultures of and within institutions and their identities (voices) in the social, intellectual, emotional and political spaces of society (Bhaba, 1994) or of organisations such as a school. • These struggles are expressed through the cultures teachers and students construct collectively to delineate the values and beliefs that underpin their own practices whether in classrooms, subject areas or schools generally. • Students are subordinates in schools. Metaphorically, their situation is similar to the subordination of native people by colonial regimes as discussed by Bhabha (1994) and Spivak (1985), since students are portrayed as belonging to a caste whose attributes permanently exclude them from joining the ranks of the dominant group in an educational institution, teachers and senior managers. • As in other institutions, especially those of a disciplinary nature, teachers and others in part control their own actions by monitoring them against the norms embedded in dominant discourses that impinge on their bodies in the way, for example, that they are allowed to use time and space (Foucault, 1977). • Teachers who have ascribed authority to lead (Bourdieu and Passeron, 1977) have to sustain a school’s culture to their own subordinates, the students, to maintain order in a less abrasive manner than that of more overt coercion (Lenski, 1986). Aug 2014 School of Education, University of Leicester 6
  7. 7. Social expectations of schools and children • Dominant social discourses in England describe schools as institutions for controlling children and shaping them to become useful adult citizens. • Schools are expected to discipline students to fit these norms through careful monitoring of their actions (surveillance) by adults, through regimentation (e.g. school uniform, school bells), through various manoeuvres (school timetables, examinations) and through punishment (detention, exclusion) which is in inscribed on their bodies, at least metaphorically (loss of time in detention, acting in ways prescribed by school rules) (Foucault, 1977; Paechter, 2007). • Discourses of student voice (Flutter and Rudduck, 2004) and a recognition of the contribution students’ perspectives make to constructing successful schools (DfES, 2008) resonate with wider notions of choice and discipline in education and emphasise students’ needs as individual learners, parents’ vested interest in their children’s education, and to try to reduce student disengagement with schooling. • Democratic participation of students can be fostered through institutional structures such as a school council, but school councils are often dominated by the agenda of senior staff (Fielding, 2004). • Pupil consultation can lead to a transformation of teacher-pupil relationships, to significant improvements in teachers’ practices, and to pupils having a sense of themselves as members of a community of learners (Ruddock and McIntyre, 2007). Aug 2014 School of Education, University of Leicester 7
  8. 8. One student voice or many? • The concept of student voice is problematic. • Some researchers hold that it can only be articulated when teachers authorise it and usually in ways that curtail any critical discussion of prevailing conditions (Ruddock, 2006; Arnot and Reay, 2007). • This implies that students should only be listened to when they speak in the ways expected of subordinates by ruling elites (Spivak in Morton, 2002), in the case of schools, the teachers. • Others assume that student voice is monolingual (Robinson and Taylor, 2007), one student voice. • This denies the multi-faceted nature of student perspectives (Rubin and Silva, 2003) that arise from the intersectionality of gender, social status, ethnicity and faith (Reay, 2006) that shape how students construct their identities and perspectives: not one student voice but many. Aug 2014 School of Education, University of Leicester 8
  9. 9. Students as participants in school communities • Students are experienced participant observers of teachers, teaching and schools (Riley and Rustique-Forrester, 2002). • Many are able to articulate clearly what they consider to be effective and ineffective teaching and support for students (Nabhani, Busher and Bahous, 2012, Busher and Tas, 2012) and these views bear a strong similarity to work on successful classroom practice, for example Kyriacou (2007), Wragg et.al., (2000). • Involving students directly in school decision-making about issues of immediate relevance to their own lives, such as teaching, learning and school organisation, helps to give students a sense of ownership of the learning and institutional process of which they are part (Ruddock, 2004), to develop respectful cultures in schools (Sebba and Robinson, 2011), and raise students general levels of enthusiasm and achievement (Potter, 2002) Aug 2014 School of Education, University of Leicester 9
  10. 10. Students as partners • Accessing students’ perspectives acknowledges students have a right to be heard in the evaluation of schools (Troman et al., 2007) and to influence the shaping of their own learning (Fielding, 2004). It was encouraged by central government in England to promote personalised learning (DfES, 2008) • It recognises that students are citizens, not merely citizens in preparation, whose rights should be respected under the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) (Sebba and Robinson, 2011). • Within the European Union, the development of citizenship by member states is recognised as crucial to the construction of society (Osler and Starkey, 1999). However, there are some distinct national differences in understandings of citizenship, with an emphasis in England on citizens’ duties and responsibilities but on citizen rights (e.g. the right to travel, or to work) in France and Spain (Edye, 2003). • In England it is difficult to promote a genuinely democratic dialogue in schools (Arnot and Reay 2007) because state schools try to optimise their own performance within the disciplinary framework of performative education policy (Troman, et al., 2007). Aug 2014 School of Education, University of Leicester 10
  11. 11. Students as sounding boards: a minimalist position for neo-liberal times • However, student ‘consultation’ may be tokenistic (Byrom et al, 2007) with school council agendas constrained by the views of senior staff (Fielding, 2004) to discussing only matters considered safe for subordinates • Discourses of performativity shape the perspectives and practices of all participants in schools - teachers, school students, head teachers and support staff – that are translated in to school processes and structures (Jeffrey and Troman, 2012, Busher and Cremin, 2012) • Despite the asymmetrical power relationships in schools, listening to student voices helps teachers to reflect more critically on their practices (McIntyre, et al., 2005) to improve the quality of teaching and learning and meet students’ educational needs more successfully (Fielding, 2004). • But teachers find this threatening (McIntyre, et al., 2005; Busher and Cremin, 2012) unless what they hear fits with their existing constructions of knowledge on teaching, learning and the distribution of power in schools • Listening to students can also contribute to the effective management of schools in economically and socially disadvantaged areas to meet students’ educational needs (Mujis et.al., 2005; Lupton, 2007?). Aug 2014 School of Education, University of Leicester 11
  12. 12. What English students like about school (14-15 year old English students) • Teaching: the GCSE grades they get – they were really bad when I came to the school and now they’re getting better – but now they’re getting better (MK) • … other teachers that are quite strict and they want you to do the work – but I s’pose that’s because they want us to get good grades 'cos (AR) • Teachers supervision: the good thing about that is we have teachers that walk around the field to check if anybody is [smoking] (AR) • our area where we hang around … staff are there to keep an eye on you … just in case something does happen (AR) • everyone has a named teacher, or a tutor … if there’s anything you want to talk about, they’ll ask you to see if you’re alright … and then they’ll go to the Deputy Head (AR) • you go to your tutor to get signed in the register and then afterwards, what happens is, that if there’s anything you want to talk about, they’ll ask you to see if you’re alright and if you like school and stuff and then you just talk to them(MR) • School facilities: It’s a big sports hall because apparently we’ve got the choice between sports hall and a swimming pool, but they picked they sports hall because our other two gyms ain’t that nice (CP) • It feels quite safe – no-one’s going to get in and no-one’s going to get out, but … it don’t look nice. All you see is a load of spikes and poles ... It’s more like a prison than a school (CP) Aug 2014 School of Education, University of Leicester 12
  13. 13. What Science students like about school (14-15 year old Science students) • Other students (friends): meet my friends daily; my friends also help me with my work and I help them if they are stuck; I get to talk to my friends in class; • Collaborative learning: leading class sessions is very useful to gain communication skills and a lot of confidence; activities such as netball allows me to think more positively; I work better in a group; you can express your views to other student and visa versa, therefore learn off them; • Interesting topics/ subjects: things I wouldn’t find out about anywhere else; learning new skills; new interesting things; I will listen well in the lessons [that I like] … I learn more; I do like science and cooking but not my cooking teacher; • Extra- curricula: school trips and learn things outside of a classroom; science club; like my family helps me to do well, they motivate me, and help me out • School / classroom culture: the friendly environment makes it easier to develop our learning skills (listening and speaking) [and] also increase our concentration; Because I enjoy school I try and do well; [Science] is a good subject because we’re a specialist science school • Teachers’ styles of teaching: I like learning and discussion; enthusiastic teachers inspire me to learn; hands on practical lessons – helps me study better; • Impact on life outside school: learning new things and how our world works … has a positive impact outside of school; things that can be put into context with everyday life; [get] qualifications I need to get the job/career I want … makes me work harder; Aug 2014 School of Education, University of Leicester 13
  14. 14. What English students like about teachers (14-15 year old English students) • Competence and support: your teachers know what we’re doing … Now the teacher knows that, if [pupils]’re playing games and not do[ing] their work, they can tell them off (AH); they help you … He helped me a lot to get … a level 7 in my mock SATs (AH); I did really well in my Maths test the other day. I was really proud of myself. Miss [name] helping me loads of times; teachers that are quite strict and they want you to do the work – because they want us to get good grades • Empathy/ classroom culture: He’s really funny in lessons … and she’s really funny, so basically we can do our work and have a laugh at the same time (AR) • there’s always a nice atmosphere when you go into that room … she’s always really happy and really nice about things and you (CT) • I do enjoy ICT as well. The teacher’s a bit of a muppet (Laughter) in a good way! He makes you laugh. So it’s quite a nice atmosphere again (CT) • if you get on with all the teachers it makes you easier (CT) • in some lessons you can just chill out and do your work and talk … it helps me concentrate … but in other lessons you’ve got to be quiet and sit still and do your work (RI) • [teachers] let you sit with your friends and get on with your work, and they’re not always telling you off and [like] give you detention for no reason (SY) Aug 2014 School of Education, University of Leicester 14
  15. 15. What Science students like about teachers (14-15 year old Science students) • Enthusiastic teachers: about the subject … always have a positive attitude which encourages me to learn; makes it interesting so I want to learn; [teachers]’ve got to know you[student] in order to be able to meet the[ir] different learning needs • Empathetic teachers: Listen to what you have to say; they can be relaxed but serious when needed; he is funny and I get better grades with him; they make learning fun … which helps us learn more; always try their hardest to help me to learn; if I don’t understand I can always ask them; they believe in us; I think some teachers [cater for learning preferences] better than others • Commitment to students: willing to spend breaks and lunches to help us … pass our grades; she is always there, making time for us whenever needed to help us understand anything that we don't understand; lunch times (clubs) when we can go and ask for help; • Teachers can control the class • Classroom culture: it depends on the teacher and the students … like in science as a whole group we encourage everyone … some classes are mixed and … some disruptive children … sometimes put you down if you get it wrong; we have like fun in our class … a lot of jokes can go around … the teacher can get involved, and because we are still learning, its great Aug 2014 School of Education, University of Leicester 15
  16. 16. English students’ views of successful lessons (14-15 year old English students) • Styles of learning: To have more [like] hands-on things, rather than just listening or watching someone do it - you [like] do it for yourself... in my ICT I’m … making videos. We’ve got to make downloadable tunes advert • Use of resources: So I’m not very keen on it ... I [like] using the interactive boards more, really ... making it more interesting ... Make things really colourful and bright • Relevant to everyday life: Cooking is something you need to know 'cos you can’t just ... order takeaways all the time ... in IT you get to learn a lot about computers, technology, even about what’s happening around the world. • Practical work: I only like Science when we’re, like, doing experiments or, like, when we’re writing out conclusions Aug 2014 School of Education, University of Leicester 16
  17. 17. Science students’ views of successful lessons (14-15 year old Science students) • Teachers’ styles of teaching: the interactive on the board, and quizzes and stuff, I can’t learn from someone lecturing … because I won’t understand it; we get to communicate with each other by doing loads of group activities; I think it’s interesting researching about science because despite the fact that we don’t know it there are so many things that are out there which we can research into; she puts a lot of … resources on … a learning tool on the internet, so we all have our own log ins; • Teachers’ clear explanations: they explain things in detail; easy to understand; they explain things more than once if you don’t understand; they are always trying to help us understand the concepts that we are studying; • Interesting topics: So it’s really interesting how we learn about different people’s viewpoints as well; I just like learning about bacteria and fungus, viruses, trying to find new medicines and help others; like really fascinating to learn like how our world works … you don’t really think about it until you’ve learn about it; • variety of activities: she combines … practicals plus … book work, plus like exam questions, and visual experiments … so that really helps us learn and [wish] other teachers were more like; gets us involved its not just … her speaking and us listening, and she also makes notes on the board so then we can actually copy and she draws diagrams; we do have demonstrations and interactive activities and we also have practicals so if there are hard concepts it allows us to understand it better • Classroom culture: it depends on the teacher and the students … like in science as a whole group we encourage everyone; some classes are mixed and … some disruptive children … sometimes put you down if you get it wrong; we have like fun in our class … a lot of jokes can go around … the teacher can get involved, and because we are still learning, its great; • Gender issues: The boys tend to be more strong mathematically but girls tend to be much more stronger when it comes to understanding the actual concepts; there have been a lot of lessons where my [girl] opinion hasn’t been counted say as well as others … then towards the end of the year they kind of grew to the fact that I’m still there Aug 2014 School of Education, University of Leicester 17
  18. 18. English students’ views of unsuccessful lessons (14-15 year old English students) • Teacher approaches: I like reading and writing too – practising them. In other classes, you can’t. You just have to look straight ahead. You end up having arguments with the teachers (Li); my Science teacher is quite strict … we have to be quiet while we’re doing our work and you just can’t talk or nothing (RI); We just have to sit there and write down everything the teachers tell you to write down – at least 2 pages (AH); : it’s not the actual lessons, it’s just the way that they’re taught ... really boring ... the [teachers] just repeat themselves a and then it just confuses you • Perceived unfairness by teachers: I don’t like DT. The teacher’s a bit moody. Different personalities [like] one day she’ll be alright with me but be a bit sarcastic and stuff like that sometimes (AK); Sometimes a teacher has a go at you as soon as you get in the classroom like “Can’t sit there - Move away from them” and when you’re not even doing anything (JD); Sometimes I get earache. She shouts in my ear. Not at me! At other people and it kills my ear like mad. I like it when … she’s not angry with other people (SP) • Teachers’ perceived lack of respect for students: [Miss] treats you like you’re a bunch of idiots and that you’re stupid … Mr treats you like you’re an idiot, but he does it in a way that is fair … Miss [unclear] shouts a lot … it’s just you don’t like the way they treat you and the way that they teach the class (CT) • Teachers’ perceived incompetence: [teacher] wasn’t around a lot in the DT class … we used to just do random things in our lessons and we didn’t really learn anything. We just went around doing stuff (AH) Aug 2014 School of Education, University of Leicester 18
  19. 19. Science students’ views of unsuccessful lessons (14-15 year old Science students) • Teachers approaches: teachers can talk too much sometimes … a lot of it is off topic; no interactive methods are used to break up the theory then the science lesson can be ineffective; she just makes us copy things off the board which isn’t helping at all; one of my teachers doesn’t explain anything so I don’t understand; sometimes, we get overpowered with information • teacher (in)competence: one of my teachers doesn’t explain anything so I don’t understand; Poor teaching material; teachers are unorganised; When we have supply teachers, they don’t have a clue about what to do, it can be tedious; [teachers] not very good at controlling the class … I end up teaching myself out of a book; • seating plans: you can’t work with the people you want to work with; • too much writing/ book work: when we get worksheet and when we have to copy from the book because it's boring and it doesn't teach us much; I don’t like doing coursework as it takes ages to finish; doing work sheets and writing all lesson because it[is] boring and I end up not paying attention properly; • not enough practicals: not as many practicals as I would like; practical lessons can be fun; I prefer to not do practical work; • Difficult topics: feedback on coursework assignments isn’t always great; Some subjects aren't as interesting as other[s] making them harder to remember facts; I don't thoroughly understand all the topics and this means I have to do more revision; the topics are confusing and very detailed with lots of new words. Aug 2014 School of Education, University of Leicester 19
  20. 20. What English students dislike about schooling (14-15 year old English students) • Perceived unfairness: They’ve just shut off Google … which is quite annoying. We were just told people were misusing Google (CT); I’m a bit worried … in Science I get loads of homework and in Maths I get loads as well. If I don’t get it in I get detention or something … I don’t really like getting detentions (RI) • Teacher coercion: one of the Vice Principals stands at the door, making sure everyone’s in their uniform in the morning … So everybody’s [like] scared of him 'cos if they go to see him they know they’re going to get yelled at, and really badly. And when he shouts, his voice goes right through you so (CT); • Punishment systems: One of my friends, she went in to Stage 5 [detention]– she was wearing jeans (SP); [photo of teacher] A walkie-talkie and a bunch of keys. I think she was trying to sort out a problem … someone might have run away or something – from a lesson or something like that (SY) • Surveillance: [photo CCTV in the staffroom] they don’t even tell us they’ve got CCTV cameras … we could be talking about … something private and stuff. I don’t think that’s fair (NC) • Facilities: [photo of toilets] And they’re always locked, so if you really need to go, then you have to [like] walk all the way over to a place where you can get the key to a toilet (SY) Aug 2014 School of Education, University of Leicester 20
  21. 21. What Science students dislike about schooling (14-15 year old Science students) • Teachers: are a little harsh sometimes and they take it out on the whole class if one person is misbehaving; they can sometimes be very unapproachable if I am worried about something; nobody understands my personal learning needs; teachers being patronising; teachers losing your work; teachers being hypocrites; [teachers] make bad decisions ; teachers judging you because of friends behaviour; • Homework: having to do numerous amounts of homework; homework – not much social time; • Subjects: French; English; I don’t like Maths; don’t enjoy English • Early rising: dislike that we have to be here early; Getting up early; • Workload /Curriculum: overload of homework/coursework can be stressful and other teachers don't understand how much we get; exams and stress; • Uniform: I think the strict uniform rules are unnecessary and pointless • School culture: The pressure of having to do well; how the impression is given that if we don't get A's or A*'s we won't be as successful; lessons and long days; some of the rules; the length of day; gender issues … my friends think its really strange like they went to pick food, and textiles, and they enjoy English, and I’m just there like, no I shall sit and do equations! • Other students: that I get bullied and I miss loads of my PE lesson because of it because I am to scared to go into my lesson; immature students in learning skills; people shouting about stuff they know nothing about; people shouting abuse; • School buildings: its quite old; some of the facilities are in a bad state; the library is too small; Not having lockers to keep our bags and possessions in; Aug 2014 School of Education, University of Leicester 21
  22. 22. Conclusions Students appreciated teachers with particular qualities of trust, care and concern, and who maintained order so that students could work purposefully. Some recognised that teachers had to sustain a school’s system and welcomed their gentle surveillance during recreation times. Such views offer important clues to teachers about what relationships, organisational cultures and practices are likely to help students to engage strongly with schooling. Students’ views on successful lessons offer teachers important perspectives to help them shape their teaching (McIntyre et al, 2005). Students preferred: • collaborative and trustful cultures where people could ‘have fun’ while working purposefully; • pedagogical strategies that facilitated practical work, • learning related to students everyday lives where possible, • work that challenged students’ capabilities but met their own idiosyncratic preferences for learning. • Students also welcomed clear explanations of the work and a clear structure to their work. • Students welcomed support in understanding work when they needed it especially when struggling to understand an aspect of their work Aug 2014 School of Education, University of Leicester 22
  23. 23. Conclusions • Students’ negative perspectives of schooling and lessons … abuses of power… disciplining of their bodies and restriction of their agency … • What students disliked reflected their disengagement from aspects of schooling: certain subjects, other students’ anti-social behaviour, such as bullying or shouting, some teachers’ behaviours which were perceived as unfair or disrespectful of students that ignored students’ agency, and teachers who were perceived as incompetent. • It suggests that the projection of power to enact, emblematise and sustain particular values is an important element in the construction of school cultures (Busher et al., 2007). • It also offer teachers severe warnings on what needs to be eradicated if schools are to improve. The aspects of schooling which students in these studies disliked bear many resemblances to those characteristics related to schools described as ‘stuck’ (Stoll, 2007). Aug 2014 School of Education, University of Leicester 23
  24. 24. Contact Hugh Busher, School of Education, University of Leicester hugh.busher@le.ac.uk Suggested follow up reading: Nabhani, M., Busher, H. and Bahous, R. (2012) Cultures of engagement in challenging circumstances: Four Lebanese Primary Schools in urban Beirut. School Leadership and Management, 32 (1) 37-55 Montgomery, A. and Kehoe, I. (Eds.) Reimagining Schooling. Springer (March 2015) Fielding, M. & Moss, P. (2011) Radical education and the common school: a democratic alternative Abingdon, Routledge. Aug 2014 School of Education, University of Leicester 24

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