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Development, well-being and organisation: perceptions of employees in schools

By Ray Rumsby

Abstract

The thesis explores how employees perceive the meaning and significance of development in schools as organisations, and relative to their well-being at work. It reports how development is negotiated in particular contexts, personally and socially, through time.\ud A review of literatures from different disciplines examines three major themes: wellbeing, development and organisation. For different reasons, these commonplace yet complex ideas are relatively neglected in education scholarship, although used in schools and highly contested in other academic fields. Politicised school improvement literature, assuming deficit models while using inadequate and instrumental ‘growth’ metaphors, misses education’s developmental purpose.\ud Beginning from ontological theory of developmental process throughout human life, the longitudinal research design is consonant with views of socially constructed, experiential adult learning at work and elsewhere. In order to explore the unfamiliarities of superficially familiar ideas, a discursive ethnography is used. It records the perceptions of employees from a wide range of roles - including headteachers - in five English schools committed to staff well-being programmes.\ud The findings are drawn from analysing thematic and narrative data. Participants define development variously, but their accounts from experience are consistent: development is an indeterminate process which involves coming to recognise and understand capabilities, while negotiating and protecting opportunities to realise them individually and organisationally. The thesis offers a critical reconceptualisation of development as a possible basis for praxis and further research.\ud Learning and eudaimonic (self-determining) well-being are associated with, but distinct from, development. These associations work powerfully through the structurational consequences of individuals’ actions in organisationally protected circumstances. Thus development in schools, as with individuals, is natural yet achieved, requiring principled, reflective, communitarian organisation. Such complex interactions and mutualities are central to educative purpose. They deserve more attention, but lack a coherent discourse

Publisher: University of Leicester
Year: 2010
OAI identifier: oai:lra.le.ac.uk:2381/7965

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