Community in schools : an exploratory study of meaning and purpose

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Simpson, James E. M.
University of Lethbridge. Faculty of Education
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Lethbridge, Alta. : University of Lethbridge, Faculty of Education, 1997
A large body of research literature connects the concept of community with schools and other educational organizations. This study: 1. Drew from that educational literature: (a) a typology of the different senses in which the term community is conceptualized; (b) guiding principles for building community. 2. Interviewed thirteen educators from Calgary (Alberta, Canada) Public Board of Education to ascertain: (a) how these educators conceptualize the concept of community; (b) their views on how the concept of community could be operationalized in schools. 3. Analyzed how (1) and (2) do and do not complement each other. 4. Drew conclusions and made recommendations for future study, policy and action which will allow the idea of community in schools to become more attainable. The concept of community, as applied to schools, identifies two types of realtionships: territorial and relational. However, an optimal sense of community will not be experienced until people within territorial stuctures begin to interact with and relate to one another. Such an enlarged notion of community would speak to the caring and trust that exists between people; individuals' faith in process; and a sense of ownership in, commitment to, and shared responsibility for, what occurs between people within lateral structures. Another element would be the valuing of all people; valuing their place in the community, their growth as learners, and the qualities they bring and contributions they make to the community. Finally,larger connections would be made which extend beyond the smaller territorial structures, into the larger school community and beyond into larger communities outside the school. This study may also serve as an heuristic springboard for future research in at least five major areas: 1. How value systems are developed by educators and educational leaders. 2. How educators and eduactional leaders come to value shared leadership and shared responsibility in lateral structures. 3. The potential for one type of community serving as a foundation for others. 4. How currently vague and abstract concepts of community may be expressed in language that is clear, precise and practical. 5. Longitudinal studies of educators and educational leaders addressing the assumptions of what learning communities and communities of leaders are and should be.
xi, 137 leaves ; 28 cm.
Schools -- Alberta -- Sociological aspects , School environment -- Alberta , Educational sociology -- Alberta , Dissertations, Academic