Details of Thesis

Title We Grow in the Shade of Each Other: A study of Connectedness, Empowerment and Learning in the Middle Years of Schooling
Author Hamilton, Mauricette Ann
Institution Australian Catholic University
Date 2005
Abstract Learning is enabled in an environment that promotes connectedness. This belief led me to an exploration of connectedness and the discovery that connectedness has more than one connotation in the literature. For some it means making connections within curriculum areas, which is closely associated with the understanding that connectedness means teaching and learning within a community of learners. Another body of literature understands connectedness as a person’s sense of belonging within the family, school and wider community. Embedded in all these understandings of the term is either implicit or explicit reference to empowerment.An exploration of learning necessarily involves an exploration of students and teachers perceptions of effective learning. The exploration of learning focuses on: teacher and students understanding of learning, student expectations and achievements within the classroom, the opportunities for participation and contribution. The various understandings of connectedness, empowerment and learning are linked in the exploration of the following themes within the classroom: Building caring relationships, Setting high and achievable expectations and Providing opportunities for participation and contribution (Bernard, 1991; 1997; MindMatters, 2000). The context is the middle years of schooling as the last 10 years has produced research that delivers findings asking teachers in the middle years to negotiate a curriculum that is based on people. Effective teaching and learning is essential if students are to achieve their potential, should be cooperative and be fostered within a reflective community atmosphere. Relationships are to the fore in all concepts of effective middle schooling and this case study explores relationship as they exist at Garden College in year seven. It is these relationships that promote a sense of belonging to and empowerment within the learning community, thus enabling learning. If schools are to “expedite the development of effective middle schooling” (Schools Council, National Board of Employment, Education and Training, 1993, p. 65), by addressing the issues highlighted above, I believe the concepts of connectedness, empowerment and learning must be fully explored by the community of learners in each school.
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