Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The colonized child: Love, community, and wholeness as necessary elements of education
by Pulice, Stacy Warnock, Ph.D., Pacifica Graduate Institute, 2013, 228; 3600863
Abstract (Summary)

Key concepts in liberation psychology describe the treatment and regard for children in public school: oppression, colonization, hegemony. This study asked whether public education is experienced as oppressive, creating students who are colonized. Through a frame of liberation psychology and a depth psychological perspective, the study examines whether children are systematically "civilized" by the dominant adult population. Is the indigenous child—the child born with unique intelligence, knowledge, and desire to learn—systematically stifled within the existing educational paradigm?

Findings revealed that several practices at the Middle School enhanced learning, personal empowerment, self-esteem, and happiness, and were termed Liberatory. Most significant was whole-child value, where nonacademic strengths, intrinsic worth, and creativity were valued. Mutual, positive, connected relationship between teacher and student was primary, enhanced by trips outside of school with faculty, emphasizing character and life lessons. Acceptance permeated the peer environment.

Practices at the public High School, referred to as Oppressive, contributed to alienation, separation, fear, boredom, and disincentive to learning. Focus on right answers on tests encouraged memorization/forgetting, paradoxically described as "academic" by students, and creativity was not valued. Students cited teacher overwhelm as the main reason for the absence of connected relationship between educators and students. Judgment permeated the peer environment.

Participants were 10 females between 18 and 20 years old who attended a private middle school that practiced humanistic, whole-child learning, and a public high school in Santa Barbara, CA. A Likert survey asked 25 identical questions regarding experience of both schools, followed by in-depth interview highlighting the difference between the subject's experiences of both schools. Using hermeneutic data evaluation, Findings fell into 4 strong themes at 2 poles of experience and practice: Liberatory and Oppressive.

There was 1 significant exception to the clear pattern in Findings: a teacher within the Oppressive system used Liberatory practices effectively. Simple changes like respect, care, listening, and personal connection could increase learning and happiness in school.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Kipnis, Aaron
Commitee: Freed, Jennifer, Heywood, Wil
School: Pacifica Graduate Institute
Department: Depth Psychology
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-B 75/02(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Social psychology, Educational psychology, Psychology
Keywords: Attachment, Community, Indigenous child, Love, Motivation in classroom, Personal connection, Teacher-student relationship, Whole-child education
Publication Number: 3600863
ISBN: 978-1-303-51199-8
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