Exploring the use of the humanities: Towards transformative dialogue on educational issues
This dissertation used an original fable to explore how the humanities might be used to inform readers about educational issues and promote dialogue among groups of educational stakeholders. Along with the fable, The Foal and the Ranch, I have described tools with which to recognize and overcome policy fallacies. Additionally, I have provided evidence to support the events represented in the fable and to further enhance the conversation about justice, fairness, and equity in public education as purported in Saskatchewan public education documents. The purpose of this study was to explore the use of a fable as an instrument of the humanities towards creating personal transformation of understanding and meaningful dialogue on educational issues. For this study, 11 participants were divided into three relatively homogeneous discussion groups. The first group was comprised of three teacher candidates, the second group was made up of five experienced educators who were also doctoral candidates, and the third group consisted of three parents who each had children attending public schools. Participants read the fable individually, completed a pre-discussion survey, engaged in a group discussion, and then completed a post-discussion survey. The findings indicated that perceived individual transformation related to understanding as a result of reading and discussing the fable varied greatly and seemed to be inversely related to the amount of experience that the participants had had with educational systems. Those with vast experience (administrators/teachers) felt they had experienced minor transformation, those with moderate experience (teacher candidates) showed moderate transformation, and those with little experience (parents) indicated considerable transformation. The experienced teachers felt affirmed by the fable, the teacher candidates felt frustrated, and the parents said they simultaneously felt validated, outraged, and overwhelmed. All groups felt that the fable would be beneficial toward engaging stakeholders in productive dialogue concerning educational issues. The dialogue among participants was measured according to Bloom’s Taxonomy for affective learning and all three groups stayed primarily in the lower three levels of affective learning: receiving, responding, and valuing. Research findings corroborated existing theories advocating the usefulness of the humanities to function as both a mirror to see one`s self as well as window through which to view the world. The stakeholders that were included in this study indicated a belief that there is a disconnect between educational policies and practices, implying that informed dialogue is necessary and that constructs such as the fable used in this study may support understanding. Implications relate to the usefulness of the humanities as a tool in supporting change in Education. Further research is necessary in exploring what actual change might transpire as a result of humanities-inspired dialogue.
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
SupervisorWalker, Keith D.
CommitteeBrenna, Bev; Prytula, Michelle; Renihan, Pat; Burgess, David
Copyright DateDecember 2014