By Joel Westheimer
What are instructor groups? What are they after? How do they start? Do they evolve via phases? How alike or diverse are they from each other? and the way are such groups outfitted? This account of an city and a suburban college, the writer makes an attempt to supply solutions to those questions.
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Additional info for Among schoolteachers: community, autonomy, and ideology in teachers' work
Comprising a strange amalgam in American usage, the words individuality and community are used at times to describe similar social arrangements and priorities almost interchangeably. Reconciling ideals of individualism and community while understanding their complexities has been an ongoing project for more than two centuries. Ambiguity is not the only obstacle facing those seeking to use the term community analytically. Though much school reform literature tends to use teacher community in a universally positive way (meaningful relationships among teachers, a sense of collective responsibility for students and for each other), for many, community conjures up particularly negative visions: domination of the individual by the collectivity, religious communities insulated from the larger communities in which they are situated, stiflingly homogenous small towns or highly regimented cults.
The press for conformity in communities has been pointed to again and again as an unresolved danger in both philosophical and practical discourse (Hoffer, 1951; Nisbet, 1953; Peshkin, 1986; Selznick, 1992). In the extreme, one need venture no further than the growing popularity of neofascist groups to recognize the hazard of beliefs that are shared without question. Deciding which beliefs are "worthy" and which are not, however, is a thorny enterprise. This is illustrated in recent debates over a multicultural curriculum.
Meaningful relationships. Interactions reflect a commitment to caring, sustaining relationships. Having mapped the features of community most commonly invoked by those who study and seek to build community among teachers in schools, I now turn to some issues these features raise. Problems in Constructing a Theory of Community I have already noted some of the difficulties encountered when using community as a metaphor and analytic tool for studying schools (vague- Page 18 ness of the term and negative associations with the concept).
Among schoolteachers: community, autonomy, and ideology in teachers' work by Joel Westheimer
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