The impact of institutional controls on teaching as phronesis in social studies: a comparative case study of Alabama secondary teachers

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University of Alabama Libraries

This study investigates the impact of institutional job requirements upon particular practices and understandings of teaching among select secondary social studies teachers in Alabama. Through in-depth qualitative data analysis, findings from participant interviews, classroom observations, and documents were compared to assess how these requirements affected participants' abilities to engage in teaching as phronesis. This philosophical concept is translated as "practical wisdom" and is distinguished from episteme, meaning scientific knowledge, and techne, meaning skill. It is argued that phronesis, with its practical consideration of human values, corresponds to the nature of the social studies content area. However, this study illustrates that institutional job requirements controlled participant teaching practices so that socially valuable aspects of education, in line with phronesis, were limited to ensure production toward institutional objectives. This study also examines how this relationship differed between urban and rural learning environments and between novice and expert teachers. Finally, this study evaluates the case findings in the context of social studies education and broader issues of contemporary educational policy.

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Social sciences education, Education policy, Social research