Pupil and teacher unfolding identities in a newly amalgamated secondary school

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Mulhall, Imelda
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University College Cork
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This research study stemmed from the amalgamation of two secondary schools in the town of Bayview. This brought mammoth change, as the lived school landscape transformed for both teacher and pupil. My research attempts to capture the unfolding identities of teacher and pupil in this space. I explored three guiding themes as a means of unearthing the unfolding identities of both teacher and pupil. I looked at how sport is used as a tool to negotiate identities in new spaces. Secondly, I examined how identities are negotiated through narrative and finally I looked at how identities are negotiated in communities of practice. I believe in the constructivist view that knowledge is socially constructed by people active in the research site. Guba and Lincoln (2005) identify qualitative research methods as the preferred methods for researchers working in the constructivist paradigm. I employed a case study approach, thematic analysis and the methods of semi-structured interviewing, focus groups and diary analysis as the main research methods. The main findings of this study are that sport is a salient identity that both teacher and pupil grow by. The practices that we find meaning in are the practices that we invest our identities in. Identity is formed within multiple contexts which bring social, cultural, political and historical forces to bear on its formation. Identity is formed in relationship with others. Mind is truly social and it is through participation in the situated practices of communities of practice that identities flourish. This research was not designed to advance Socio-Cultural Theory but definitely drew on this theory in a novel way to expose and explicate matters of identity and community building in a secondary school setting. Socio-Cultural Theory underpinned the framework for this study and I feel that the findings unveil the truly social nature of the mind in its cultural settings. The sociocultural understanding of self and mind places the individual within a community, defining consciousness as relational, shared, emergent, mediated and distributed by the world in which we live and those we share it with. In this study, teacher and pupil identities were acquired through the myriad of activities and social interactions which took place in the different communities of practice they participated in. It is through participation in communities of practice that identities flourished and people were made and unmade in the moment-to-moment exchanges. This research has shown that the ordinary everyday ebbs and flows of life do make a difference to the kinds of people that individuals are allowed to become.
Identity , Sociocultural , Community of practice
Mulhall, I. 2018. Pupil and teacher unfolding identities in a newly amalgamated secondary school. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.
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