Any Curriculum will do: Structure as a Catalyst for Adult Transformation
Cook, Paul Alexander
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
This thesis employs phenomenological hermeneutic circle analysis, to investigate structure versus agency and adult identity change in lifelong learning. Achieving transformed agency and enhanced identity is argued to be about other ways of doing and other ways of seeing (Mezirow 2000:21). It proceeds by exploring if curricula employed in education can provide structure and/or the catalyst which allows ‘other’ to be revealed, agency to be regained, and to explicate what contribution curricula might make in transforming adult identities. Drawing upon the disciplines of sociology and psychology it provides holistic interpretations of participant accounts in the contemporary competitive world and explores the interstices in the duality of tensions between the utilitarian, and pragmatic adult, who employs education as a developmental pathway of choice. Interviews with six participants tell individual stories to provide holistic data of their erudition and experiences of cognitive and social change. Data are then employed to essentialise similarities, differences, themes, and congruent essences, and to distil factors which exemplify growth in understanding and expectations of the self. Growth in self-assurance and identity change capability is then contrasted with the fragility of adult identity; whereupon, this thesis critically positions fragility causation amongst the instrumental policies and forces of lifelong learning. Mezirow contends that agency is achieved by elaborating existing frames, learning new frames, transforming habits, and transforming points of view. This thesis moves to discuss the connected nature of these developmental factors and ‘glass ceilings’, and how immanent personal potential is (re) revealed to the adult self. Employing an archaeological hermeneutic research tool which suggests reflection is a central and developing feature in adult’s educational development the thesis finally contends that education is important in the personal delivery of agency over structure, and that curricula of any structurally legitimate form make a significant contribution to allowing persons to both flourish and confront a range of ‘other’ life circumstances and dilemmas.
Transformative education as a catalyst
Doctor of Education in Education