Relational learning and (well) being Leigh Burrows Learner Wellbeing Professional Learning 12.3.10
Sigmund Freud Education, healing and governing are the three impossible professions. In Britzman, D. (2009). The very thought of education. NY: Suny Press
‘The Claremont Study’ (in Bingham & Sidorkin, 2004) identified the main issues affecting American public education as identified from inside the classroom by students, teachers, parents and administrators as being relationships. ‘Participants feel the crisis in schools is directly linked to human relationships’ (i Bingham & Sidorkin, 2004, p5) Bingham, C & Sidorkin, A (2004) ‘The Pedagogy of Relation: an introduction’ In No education without relation. Peter Lang.
A focus on the opportunities for growth through generating new forms of connectedness that can foster the wellbeing of everyone involved Increating mutually enhancing connections we can transform all the institutions in our lives, from school to workplace to home (p22) A relational paradigm in education?
‘Effective relationships and trust are pivotal in facilitating learning’ (Rogers, 1983, in Bingham & Sidorkin, 2004) ‘ Trusting, personal relationships are the bedrock of academic success (Erickson, 1987 in Bingham & Sidorkin, 2004) Bingham, C & Sidorkin, A (2004) ‘The Pedagogy of Relation: an introduction’ In No education without relation. Peter Lang. Relational learning
‘Teaching is building educational relations’ ( Bingham & Sidorkin, 2004, p6) ‘Educational relation exists to include the student in a wider web of relations beyond the limits of the educational relation’ (p6) ‘Relations are not necessarily good’ (p7) Bingham, C & Sidorkin, A (2004) ‘The Pedagogy of Relation: an introduction’ In No education without relation. Peter Lang.
Sidorkin (2002) argues that students lack an intrinsic motivation for learning in an institutional environment - which is the basic condition of schooling. He sees the only way to get around this obstacle is to either : force students to learn using a host of direct and indirect forms of violence that educators have invented over the centuries build a community where kids will love their teachers and will agree to do the school stuff too (p.128) Intrinsic motivation for learning?
Domestic violence service Holiday and after school care Steiner/waldorf community school HS spec ed and English teacher Learning difficulties support team HREOC cases ENU Learner Wellbeing team- seconded Flinders University consultancy ‘ ‘Relational learning’ topic Aiming to create ‘wellbeing generating contexts’ for vulnerable young people A recurring theme - autism Weaving the connections through relational practice
While there had been a number of positive outcomes from a holistic and relational way of working, that I had developed in the field, at that time I lacked a sophisticated understanding of the theoretical underpinnings ‘ I needed a coherent philosophy to assist me to stay true to my own values and beliefs in the face of the community opposition I at times encountered through advocating a relational approach to autism. PhD & ARC Linkage project. Working relationally?
I felt awed by the power of relationship and connection to make changes, even when there is a total deficit in emotional attachment, as in autism Through my work I had begun to see that many of these young people were slowly able to become what Emmet (2000) calls ‘a little self who is emotionally connected to his family and others’ (p2) with a gradual reduction in their difficulties in relating However, having learned to do something is not the same as understanding why it works (Sidorkin, 2002, p10). Many successful educators often do not realise the reason for their success according to Sidorkin (2002)
Autism is characterised by a deficit in the essence of relating, closeness and connection, limited capacity for imagination and a tendency towards fixation ‘ The culture around young people with autism can also be characterised by difficulties in relating, closeness and connection And perhaps even by a limited capacity for imagination and a tendency towards fixation. Working relationally?
No education without relation There is a very practical need for relational theory that can penetrate the world of practical teachers’ thinking and mainstream policy making (Bingham & Sidorkin, 2004)
A shift from a pedagogy of behaviour to a pedagogy of relation.... If we can get teachers to pay attention to relationships rather than behaviours it will be a step forward (p4) There is a lack of teacher authority in schools which necessitates the development of a pedagogy of relation (p5). sidorkin.net/pdf/towardPR.pdf How do I know if my classroom relationships are of trust, respect and care? Towards a pedagogy of relation
To understand a school one needs to understand its relational field which is unique for each school (Sidorkin, 2002) We need to pay less attention to what we do and more to the relational context in which we do those things (p129). ‘ According to Sidorkin (2004) good schools definitely ‘feel right’ which can be part of what defines a ‘good’ school. ‘Mum’s gut instinct replaced by facts’ …a pedagogy of relation
Assessing relational contexts Jordan (1998) describes ‘dominant anti-relational biases in Western culture: • Aggressive or dismissive attitude towards vulnerability • Tendency to blame the victim • Active devaluing of empathic responsiveness • Objectification of human beings • Creation of judgments about superiority and inferiority around difference
Enough pencils and books for each child. Laptops so we could continue our work outside and at home. Drinking water in every classroom, and fountains of soft drinks in the playground. Clean toilets that lock, with paper and soap, and flushes not chains. Large lockers to store our things. A swimming pool. No grading, so we don't compete against each other, but just do our best. Teachers treat us as individuals, where children and adults can talk freely to each other, and our opinion matters Children on the governing body, class representatives and the chance to vote for the teachers. A school for everybody with boys and girls from all backgrounds and abilities, At the school I’d like, we’d have….. Images of The School I'd Like from Burke and Grosvenor (2003) –
Schools for Sidorkin (2002): comprise a multitude of conflicting interests of teachers, administrators, different groups of students, parents, political and ideological parties etc Sidorkin, A. (2002). Learning Relations, impure education, deschooled schools and dialogue with evil. New York: Peter Lang, p132). Similarly Hargreaves (1992) argues that : School culture is made up of competing groups like loosely connected and often antagonistic city states. (p320) This can often be reflected in the staff room… Hargreaves, A. (1998a) The emotional politics of teaching and teacher development: with implications for educational leadership, International Journal of Leadership in Education, 1, pp. 315–336. School cultures
According to Hargreaves (1998a), teachers’ most extreme and negative feelings appear when they talk about: their colleagues the structures of schooling the effect of changing educational policies upon them Hargreaves, A. (1998a) The emotional politics of teaching and teacher development: with implications for educational leadership, International Journal of Leadership in Education, 1, pp. 315–336. Teacher behaviours directly shape the relational qualities of the classroom (Avenell, 2009) (in Avenell, 2009, Relational Pedagogy. Australian Educational Leader.31 (2). pp31-2. In topic reader Teacher relational wellbeing
For Noddings this has to do with the Western tradition of individualism: An unwillingness to accept that while no individual can escape responsibility for his or her actions, neither can the community that produced him or her escape its part in making him what he or she has become. Noddings, N (nd ) Caring in education. Available at: http://www.infed.org/biblio/noddings_caring_in_education.htm. http:// Also for Noddings it has to do with the widespread notion that ‘teacher knows best’, that teachers are expected to know and to be able to provide answers We do need to know and initiate the young into a community of knowing But we cannot be sure what everyone needs to know...... Why can the relational view be difficult for a number of educators ?
‘Teachers work’ (DECS 2001) Relationships for learning The teacher should develop and maintain working relationships which support a cooperative, collaborative and congenial learning climate and foster links and foster links with the home and community Building positive relationships?
Effective relationships and trust are pivotal in facilitating learning. (Rogers in Bingham & Sidorkin, 2004) ‘ Trusting, personal relationships are the bedrock of academic success (Erickson, in Bingham and Sidorkin, 2004) Relationships for learning and wellbeing
What is a ‘good’ teacher? Mitchell & Weber (2007). That’s funny you don’t look like a teacher’ UK: Taylor & Francis.
educators beginning with the assumption that they know nothing of the internal experience of the student since pre-judgements do little to foster genuine inquiry in the learning relationship the capacity of the educator to have empathy and secondly, to communicate empathy to the student. this means the learner having a sense of the educator’s contactfulness or presence Erskine, R (1997)Theories and methods of integrative transactional analysis in Relational Schools available at : http://www.relationalschools.com/ Getting on the students’ wave lengths
Teachers are more likely to view as problem students – and to discipline them - those whose learning styles are least similar to their own (O’Neil, 1986, in Kise (2007) (O’Neil, 1986, in Kise (2007) Some classroom management problems are due to clashes between teachers and students who are direct opposites- eg perceiving and judging sensing or intuition thinking or feeling (Jungian/Myers Briggs types) Kise, J (2007). Differentiation through personality types. Corwin Press. Student teacher relationships
The focus is on an alternative, relational wellbeing approach that aims to increase the capacity for relatedness and ‘everyday’ wellbeing for vulnerable young people ARC Linkage – Flinders/DECS research – overall topic wellbeing ‘ Case study research – 6/7 teacher assisted to provide a more dynamic and enabling classroom and school environment for ‘Jack’ an 11 year old with Asperger Syndrome who had expressed a deep sense of isolation, loneliness and a craving for friendship. Relational wellbeing: providing school support for young people with Asperger Syndrome
A relational approach to practice and inquiry requires us to be intellectually, spiritually, emotionally and bodily engaged, with flexibility and at a true willingness to listen, see and understand (Finlay & Evans, 2009, p109) ‘ Developing a young person’s capacity for social interaction and understanding alongside supporting the capacity of parents and professionals to find his or her wavelength through participating in mutually enjoyable, meaningful and developmentally tailored activities. (PhD research- case study) Restoring the pathways to relational wellbeing and learning
The future wellbeing of the planet depends significantly on the extent to which we can nourish and protect not only individuals or even groups, but the generative process of relating (Gergen (2009) For Avenell (2009) this means that as educators we all need to model and live out the behaviours for establishing positive relationships (p32). Thank you email@example.com