Catholic separate schools and the inclusion of non-Catholic students : qualitative findings and implications
Donlevy, James Kent
This dissertation sought to discover the meanings behind the experiences of Catholic students and teachers in relationship with non-Catholic students in four urban Catholic high schools in Western Canada. By employing an interpretivist approach in conjunction with Strauss and Corbin's (1998) objectivist grounded theory, the study used focus groups composed of Catholic students from grades 10, 11, and 12 and one Catholic teacher group from each school as its primary source of data. The findings were emergent, disclosing four major student themes and five major teacher themes. The former themes were that inclusion impacted upon many of the participating students', a) sense of faith, b) understanding of religious diversity, c) sense of faith community within their school, and d) realization that their religious beliefs affect non-Catholic students. The five major teacher themes were, a) an uncertainty regarding whether their school was essentially Christian or Catholic in nature, b) ambiguity respecting the genesis of the Catholic school's mandate, c) the affective nature of their relationships with non-Catholic students as expressed in welcoming, empathizing, appreciating, and protecting, d) the effects of inclusion upon their sense of faith, and e) the effects of inclusion on their school as a faith community. The study generated and revealed that inclusion has at least ten dimensions which together form the matrix of the phenomenon of inclusion: philosophical, pedagogical, social, psychological, racial, cultural, spiritual, political, economic, and legal. The findings suggest directions for the development of meaningful inclusionary policies in the Catholic school faith community.