Unpacking the meaning of community
Hicks, Barbara Elizabeth Pallas
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The goal of this study is to unpack elementary school teachers’ conceptualization of community or community building in school, and to examine the teachers’ “folk psychology and folk pedagogy” (Bruner, 1996) reflected in their discourse on community or community building in school. This case study is framed by cultural psychology. Because community is such a complex notion, it can best be understood by evaluating the context in which this term is used and shared. Toward a better understanding of the cultural meanings of constructs, such as community and community building, discourse analysis was used to analyze participant interviews in one local school context. The primary data comprised of four elementary school teachers’ discourse from three individual interviews and from a focus group interview. Findings suggested that there are situated meanings and cultural models of teaching at play in this local context. Some of the teachers’ folk pedagogies enhance their ability to build community in schools while others inhibit their ability to create a sense of community with students and families.