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The dynamics of individual teacher autonomy : a case study of teachers’ work in a Queensland secondary… Nicoll, Carol Patricia 1996

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T H E DYNAMICS OF INDIVIDUAL T E A C H E R A U T O N O M Y :  A CASE STUDY OF T E A C H E R S ' W O R K IN A QUEENSLAND SECONDARY SCHOOL  by Carol Patricia Nicoll  B .A. University of Queensland, 1979 LL.B. University of Queensland, 1982 Dip.Ed. University of Queensland, 1983 M.Ed Admin. University of Queensland, 1992  A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY  in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES Department of Educational Studies  We accept this thesis as confonmng to the required standard  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA November, 1996  ©Carol Patricia Nicoll, 1996  In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the. University of: British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. 1 further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly, purposes may be granted by the head of my department  or by his or  her  representatives.. It , is understood  that copying or  publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission.  Department of The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada Date  DE-6 (2/88)  11 ABSTRACT  The emphasis on collegiality and collaboration in the literature on teachers' work and school reform has tended to underplay the significance of teacher autonomy. This thesis explores the dynamics of teachers' understandings and experiences of individual teacher autonomy (as contrasted with collective autonomy) in an independent school in Queensland which promoted itself as a 'teachers' school' with a strong commitment to individual teacher autonomy. The research was a case study which drew on methodological signposts from critical, feminist and traditional ethnography. Intensive fieldwork in the school over five months incorporated the ethnographic techniques of observation, interviews and document analysis. Teachers at Thornton College understood their experience of individual autonomy at three interrelated levels - in terms of their work in the classroom, their working life in the school, and their voice in the decision-making processes of the school. They felt that they experienced a great deal of individual autonomy at each of these three levels. These understandings and experiences of autonomy were encumbered or enabled by a range of internal and external stakeholder groups. There were also a number of structural influences (community perceptions, market forces, school size, time and bureaucracy) emerging from the economic, social and political structures in Australian society which influenced the experience of autonomy by teachers. The experience of individual teacher autonomy was constantly shifting, but there were some emergent patterns. Consensus on educational goals and vision, and strong expressions of trust and respect between teachers and stakeholders in the school, characterised the contexts in which teachers felt they experienced high levels of autonomy in their work. The demand for accountability and desire for relatedness motivated stakeholders and structural forces to influence teacher autonomy. Some significant gaps emerged between the rhetoric of a commitment to individual teacher autonomy and decision-making practices in the school, that gave ultimate power to the co-principals. Despite the rhetoric and promotion of non-hierarchical structures and collaborative decision-making processes, many teachers perceived that their experience of individual autonomy remained subject to the exercise of'partial democracy' by school leaders.  Ul T A B L E O F  CONTENTS  Abstract  ii  Table of Contents  iii  List of Tables and Figures  vi  Acknowledgement  vii  INTRODUCTION Chapter One  1 Teacher Autonomy  1. Autonomy as an occupational construct 2. Autonomy in teaching Chapter T w o  Chapter Three  Methodological Framework  1. Understandings of ethnography 2. Who am I? 3. Focus questions 4. Selection and access issues 5. Field work 6. Analysis of data 7. Reciprocity and respondent feedback  22 29 32 33 44 69 71  T h o r n t o n College  1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.  Chapter Four  6 13  The founding of Thornton A walk through the school Profile of Thornton's teachers A teachers' school 'The Thornton way' Philosophy in practice (i) Enrolment policy and fees (ii) Anglican School (iii) Coeducational (iv) Noncompetitive sport (v) Outdoor education (vi) Student leadership  80 85 91 100 104 128 130 133 134 138 140  Teacher Understandings of A u t o n o m y  1. Work in the classroom (i) Control of subject content (ii) Teaching approach (iii) Discipline of students (iv) Budgetary control  144 145 150 153 157  IV  Chapter Five  Chapter Six  Chapter Seven  Chapter Eight  2. Life in the school (i) Choice of school (ii) Dress (iii) Freedom of movement in and out of school (iv) Leave provisions (v) Availability of a staff creche (vi) Part-time teachers (vii) Professional development opportunities (viii) Freedom to be yourself  161 163 166 168 171 177 181 187  3. Voice in decision-making processes (i) Individual consultation (ii) Teacher Meetings (iii) Collegial Groups (iv) Committees (v) School Council (vi) Professional journal  191 197 204 213 218 227  Internal Stakeholder Influences 1. School leaders (i) Senior administrators (ii) Middle management 2. Colleagues 3. Students 4. Parents  232 259 262 266 268  External Stakeholder Influences 1. Board of Senior Secondary School Studies 2. The Union 3. Occupational stakeholders  279 284 290  Structural Influences  1. Community perceptions of teachers 2. Market forces 3. School size 4. Time 5. Bureaucracy  296 299 303 307 316  The Dynamics of Individual Teacher Autonomy 1. Foundations for teacher autonomy 2. Motivational factors 3. Locations of power  321 324 331  Notes  338  References  345  Appendix A  The Queensland Educational Context  Appendix B  Introductory Letter to Thornton Staff  LIST OF TABLES Table 1 Profile of Thornton teaching staff, 1995 LIST OF FIGURES Figure 1 Dynamics of Individual Teacher Autonomy  Vll  ACKNOWLEDGEMENT In choosing to pursue doctoral studies at a Canadian university rather than an Australian one, I was faced with the challenges of settling into a new country as well as a new graduate program and new city. I owe thanks to the many friends I made in Vancouver who made me feel welcome and sustained me through the good and the difficult days - in particular, Kandis McLaughlin, Meira Shem Tov, Gwen Chapman and M.E. Kish. I was encouraged to venture overseas by Gwenna Moss and Marie Dunn, whose regular phone calls of support and friendship during my time at UBC, gave me a sense that I really had 'family' quite close by, even if they were ringing from Saskatoon. I wish to thank my committee - Jane Gaskell, Deirdre Kelly and Leslie Roman - for their warmth, expertise and preparedness to sharefromtheir extensive experience and knowledge. I particularly thank Jane Gaskell for her generous supervision of my work, her confidence in my ability to finish an ocean away, and her special aptitude for supervision via email. To the administrators and other staff at Thornton College, I owe much gratitude for sharing their school and their lives with such openness and honesty. Their generosity of time and spirit made the collection of data a much easier task than it might have been. I thank my family and friends for their support. In particular, my grandmothers - Dorothy and Elizabeth, aunts May and Ann, my friends Andrea Webb and Glenice Watson, and my unfailingly loving and supportive parents, Dorothy and Peter. To Georgina - thanks for everything.  1 INTRODUCTION This is a single case study of an independent co-educational school in Brisbane, Queensland, which explored teachers' understandings and experiences of individual autonomy in their work.  Thornton College* presented a context situated in specific historical, social and economic conditions, and proved to be a fertile research site for exploring teacher autonomy. This school is unique in the Australian educational context for many reasons, not the least of which is that it was identified by its founders as a 'teachers' school'. It was established in 1987 by a group of experienced teachers who organised their school around clear philosophical principles. Included among these foundation principles was a belief that an effective education for students would only be created in a school community that valued and respected teachers and their work. Numerous implications arise from this basic premise in terms of the organisation and culture of the school, and teachers' understandings and experience of individual autonomy.  The study's focus on teacher autonomy grew out of an interest in the sociology of teachers, and in particular, the ways in which teachers' roles and responsibilities are positioned within shifting ideological and discursive frameworks. Teachers' perceptions of their own work are integral to developing understandings of these frameworks and the particular sets of power relations that circulate within and around schools. Thus, this study draws heavily on the  * The school's administrators reserved the right to decide whether the school's real name would be used. After reading a draft they chose to have a pseudonym used throughout the study.  2 voices of teachers and their own explanations of the particular context and conditions in which they work, but I then critically position these explanations within the relations of power I observed in the school.  It emerged that teachers at Thornton understood their experience of individual autonomy at three levels - in terms of their work in the classroom, their working life in the school, and their voice in the decision-making processes of the school. These understandings and experiences of autonomy were encumbered or enabled by a number of influences. There were influences exerted by a range of internal and external stakeholder groups. There were also a number of structural influences that were not exercised by individuals, groups of people or organisations, but by forces that circulate as a result of the economic and social structures of Australian society or the particular structures of the school. The exercise of influence by these various stakeholders or forces was found to result from two motivating factors - the demand for accountability and the desire for relatedness. In some cases both factors contributed to the exercise of influences over teacher autonomy. The perception of strong experiences of individual autonomy by teachers at Thornton was connected to a consensus on the educational vision of the school, and the development of relationships in the school community based on trust and respect.  The study begins with an exploration of notions of occupational autonomy as they have been understood in the sociological literature about professions and teaching. I reject the exclusivity of autonomy as the preserve of the traditional professions and argue that some degree of occupational autonomy is a necessary and worthwhile characteristic of all work.  3 Autonomy in teaching has been long linked to the pursuit of professional status for the occupation. I argue that such a rationale for occupational autonomy is spurious, and look to broader notions of autonomy in work as a framework for its justification in the work of teachers.  Chapter 2 outlines the methodological framework adopted in this study. Ethnographic approaches were used to explore the ways in which teachers at Thornton understood and experienced autonomy in their working lives. The purely descriptive tendencies of much ethnographic work were rejected in favour of the methodological signposts provided by critical and feminist ethnography. I trace the ethnographic process as I experienced it, and reflect on a number of methodological issues that emerged from the field work.  Chapter 3 positions Thornton College as a school operating within a particular historical, social and philosophical context. Background to Thornton's position as an independent school in Queensland is provided in Appendix A, which outlines the broader Queensland educational context. I begin in Chapter 3 with a description of the school as I experienced it on a walk around the buildings and grounds. An outline of the origins of the school follows. A profile of Thornton's teachers positions them as a group within a broader occupational context. Thornton's development as a 'teachers' school', and the strength of a notion of the  Thornton  way of doing things, are then explored, to develop understandings of teachers as workers in this particular school context. The philosophical principles on which the school was founded are discussed, as is a selection of the policies and practices that enact these commitments. Chapter 4 maps teacher understandings of individual autonomy. What emerges is that teachers  4 understand individual autonomy at three levels - in terms of their work in the classroom; their working life in the school; and their capacity to have a voice in the decision-making processes in the school. The rich data that emerged supports the conclusion that this was a school where teachers perceived that they experienced a relatively high level of individual autonomy. Critical analysis reveals that they did not play out these experiences without tensions and contestation.  The teachers' experiences  of individual autonomy were influenced by a number of  stakeholders in the educational community in which Thornton is positioned. Chapter 5 explores the nature of the influence of internal stakeholders such as school leaders, colleagues, students and parents, upon individual teacher autonomy at Thornton. Chapter 6 frames teacher autonomy at Thornton within the influence of a number of external stakeholders, including the Board of Senior Secondary School Studies and the union. Chapter 7 discusses the nature of the influence exerted by a number of structural forces upon teacher autonomy. Included in this discussion are the influence of the social and political climate, market forces, the size of the school, time and the size of the bureaucracy in the school.  The final chapter examines the dynamics of the framework of influences on individual teacher autonomy. A consensus of educational vision, and trust and respect between stakeholders, are shown to underpin relationships within the school community that fostered individual teacher autonomy. Two reasons emerged as motivations for the exercise of the range of influences upon individual teacher autonomy. These factors were a demand for accountability from teachers, and/or a desire for relatedness with teachers. They are shown to operate both  5 independently and in combination, as motivations for the exercise of enabling or encumbering influence upon individual teacher autonomy. A critical analysis of the relationships of power embedded in teachers' experiences of individual autonomy at Thornton concludes the study.  6  CHAPTER ONE  TEACHER AUTONOMY  The concept of autonomy has been explored in a range of scholarly discourses, including philosophical considerations about human nature and rights, political theory about state and ethnic sovereignty and the sociology of occupations and work. This chapter will position autonomy as a sociological concept in work and occupations, with a particular focus on teaching.  1. Autonomy as an occupational construct Autonomy: Right of self government; personal freedom; freedom of the will (in Kantian doctrine); a self-governing community. (Concise Oxford Dictionary, 1964)  Autonomy as a notion of personal freedom, has been heralded by classical and liberal philosophers as a positive attribute or quality, one which is worth striving for and worth protecting when achieved. Within this framework, autonomy has been reified to become a core defining characteristic of 'the individual' and an integral element of the conception of human nature (see for example Kant (in Mulhall & Swift, 1992), Rawls, 1972). The centrality of autonomy has been and remains contested territory, however, as communitarian philosophers (Mulhall & Swift, 1992; Norman, 1995, Raz, 1986), feminist theorists (Gilligan, 1982; Jaggar, 1988; Jones, 1993) and postmodernists (Child et al, 1995; Levinas, 1987) have challenged the priority and universality attributed to individual freedom. Notions of dependence, interdependence, the importance of the 'common good' and the significance of disruptions and disturbances in constructions of autonomy, emerge from these critiques in attempts to refashion the significance and role of individual autonomy.  7 The tension between the individual's right to exercise control over her or his own life and the community's need to exercise control over the individual is played out in the degree of autonomy enjoyed by an individual as a worker. Autonomy has come to be seen as a valued and worthwhile goal in most occupations, although arguably in different degrees depending upon the occupation. The extent to which a worker can control the terms and conditions of his or her work is used as an indication of the level of individual autonomy awarded to that worker, and often as an indication of the social status ascribed to that occupation (greater autonomy being equated with greater occupational status). The degree to which an occupational group can control entry to their occupation and the development of and vision for that occupation, is seen as a measure of the collective autonomy enjoyed by the occupation, and again often flags occupational status. In this sense, autonomy can be seen as a central dynamic of all occupations, and a fundamental influence on the way any worker will understand her or his work.  Autonomy for a worker can not be viewed or analysed as a simply quantifiable construct. It is rather a relative and fluid characteristic which is woven into a complex web of influences on and around the worker, including gender, class, race, ethnicity, age or sexuality. Nash (1966) notes that "the drive towards autonomy is complicated further by the fact that it is rarely a "pure" drive but is more usually part of an ambivalent mixture of feelings of dependence and independence" (p. 148). Constructions of autonomy and associated concepts such as accountability, authority, independence, control and power, are clearly fraught with the complexity of conflicting power relations within particular institutional contexts. Just as occupational autonomy is not a simple, absolute construct, neither is teacher autonomy. It is a concept which is framed within shifting ideological and material contexts, as-will be shown in this case study.  \  8 As suggested earlier, there are two ways in which autonomy has been construed in a work context - in an individual sense, pertaining to the individual worker, and in a manifestation for the group or the occupation as a collective. In the case of teaching, the individual teacher's autonomy may be studied in classroom and school interactions. Autonomy for the classroom teacher can be couched in terms of independence or control with respect to a number of areas of teachers' work, for example: in the way teachers are allocated to teach particular subjects in designated schools; in the design and implementation of curriculum; in the discipline of students; in the adoption of particular pedagogical approaches; and in the way that evaluation of teacher performance is conducted. The way teachers experience these constructs of their work will be crucial to their perception of autonomy and it is these understandings and experiences of occupational autonomy which are the focus of this case study.  Notions of 'collective autonomy' refer to the level of control an occupation may exercise over their work and occupation as a group in terms of regulation, entry, and training. Teachers have historically lacked the collective autonomy enjoyed by professions such as law, medicine, or engineering and their representative bodies. Such professions are conventionally portrayed as possessing a high level of collective autonomy, and enjoy a freedom from external interference in matters concerning professional regulation (although there have been significant challenges to this: See Dreeben, 1970, p.68; Goss, 1961, p.49; Mills, 1953). The College of Teachers in British Columbia is possibly one of the only attempts to "put control of teacher certification, discipline and professional development in the hands of the profession" (Sheehan & Wilson, 1994, p. 13), although the Board of Teacher Registration in Queensland goes some way toward meeting those goals.  9 Collective autonomy can also refer to the broader control workers in an occupation have over policy and practice in their occupational area. Dale (1981) calls this a "strong" conception of autonomy, meaning in relation to teachers, the "creation...and execution of educational programmes...on the basis that teachers are the experts about education and that they alone, or they best, can decide what should be taught as well as how to teach it" (p. 313). Evidence of teachers' collective influence upon educational policy in the state of Queensland or nationally would satisfy Dale's 'stronger' conception of autonomy. The various collective manifestations of occupational autonomy are not the focus of this case study and they will only be mentioned briefly in chapter 6.  As an attribute of a worker or an occupation, autonomy was once most commonly associated with the 'professions'. In Bledstein's (1976) historical study of the "the culture of professionalism" in nineteenth century  American society,  he develops a definition of  professionalism which includes a notion of autonomy. He traces such autonomy as a manifestation of American democratic idealism. He argues that the culture of professionalism "emancipated the active ego of a sovereign person as he [sic] performed organized activities within comprehensive spaces" (p.87). This self-governing person operated to "achieve a level of autonomous individualism, a position of unchallenged authority heretofore unknown in American life" (p.87).  Etzioni explains in his introduction to The semi-professions and their organizations (1969), that the occupations described as "semi-professions" (which included teaching) had less autonomy than "real" professions: ...professional work here has less autonomy; that is, it is more controlled by those higher in ranks and less subject to the discretion of the professional than in full-fledged  10 professional organizations, though it is still characterized by greater autonomy than blueor white-collar work, (p.xiii) In a study of British teachers, Leigh (1979) nominates a number of traits in his definition of a profession, two of which relate to autonomy. The first is a focus on the individual, where "a professional worker is occupationally autonomous and completely responsible for all matters arising from his [sic] professional judgement" (p.33). The second trait identifies a notion of collective autonomy, whereby "a professional occupational group is occupationally autonomous" (p.33).  A large part of the claim for the distinctiveness and exclusivity of the professions, has been based on the presumption that the professional worker has the right to control his or her own work. Freidson (1971)^ argues that autonomous self-control is the defining characteristic of a profession. In part, these claims rest on the specialised knowledge seen to be possessed by a member of a profession, and the corresponding right to independence from the intervention of those who do not possess such a body of knowledge.  Occupational autonomy is no longer the exclusive 'right' of members of the traditional professions. A number of challenges have been made to the exclusive claims of members of the so-called professions to autonomy in their work. Firstly, the portrayal of professionals as workers enjoying a high level of autonomy is somewhat questionable in light of the realities of greater accountability and external surveillance of all workers in the community. As so many professionals in the Australian context are in fact employees of the state, rather than selfemployed, the claim to greater autonomy than that available to other state employees is also debatable (seeDreeben, 1970, p. 19; Glazer, 1991).  11 Feminist challenges to notions of profession and professionalism add to the argument that occupational autonomy should be no longer the sacred preserve of the professions. A growing body of feminist literature has posited challenges to masculinist constructions of connected concepts such as profession, professionalism, authority, control, power, independence and autonomy (Acker, 1990b; Biklen, 1987; Laird, 1988; Murray, 1992; Noddings, 1990; Tabakin & Densmore, 1986). Glazer (1991) notes in her review of feminist perspectives in the sociology of the professions, that "although professionals can no longer be characterized as autonomous practitioners in a free market society, the continued vigour of the professions can be attributed to a belief system rooted in masculine concepts of status, exclusivity, individualism and power" (p.324). Glazer concludes that from a feminist perspective the pursuit of professionalism produces an inevitable conflict between autonomy and hierarchy, which she sees as incompatible concepts. She calls for a policy agenda which restructures "the public and private spheres of human existence to be more responsive to women's concerns  and to build nonbureaucratic,  nonhierarchical systems" (p.338).  A strong case can also be put for the argument that popular notions of profession and professional, have changed so significantly in western societies in the latter part of this century, that they have rendered claims for exclusivity by the traditional professions meaningless. A brief survey of magazines or television advertisements will reveal that 'profession' and 'professional' are used today in reference to workers in almost every occupation.  In its broadest common usage, professionalism has come to mean simply 'doing a good job'. This point was made in an editorial in the Australian educational journal,  Unicorn (1982):  12 'Professional' is often used, in a popular sense to signify being good at one's job, whatever that job may be, and this is as useful a meaning for teaching as any. This could signify that teachers are well educated and well trained, that they keep up to date, that they are conscientious and effective in their work, and that they like young people and have a sense of responsibility to them and their parents, and that they are ready to cooperate with other teachers to make schools into effective institutions. This view is borne out by a closer analysis of the popular usages of the terms profession and professional. Whether these words are being used in relation to a salesperson, hairdresser or doctor, they are being associated with characteristics such as efficient and caring service for clients, appropriate levels of training or preparation for the service provider, and the provision of products or service with some degree of guarantee or accountability from the provider. These characteristics are no longer treated as the hallowed territory of the traditional professions. They are now considered worthy goals for all workers.  The corollary of this conclusion is that many of the occupational qualities once confined to the traditional professions are no longer theirs alone. The drive for 'credentialism' in all occupations and the establishment of occupational associations devoted to development and advancement of individuals and the occupation, are features that now form the foundation of many occupations in Australian society, not merely the professions. The repositioning of autonomy as a broad-based occupational value has been supported by claims in much of the popular management literature of the past two decades. Peters and Waterman (1984), for example, argue in their book In Search of Excellence,  that where a worker is given "even a modicum of apparent control over his or her  destiny", the result is a high commitment to work and high productivity levels (p.xxiii). They provide examples of successful companies which encourage their workers to develop autonomy and entrepreneurship in their working lives as administrators "push" some level of decisionmaking down to the shop floor (p.200).  13 These trends can not be read, however, as an indication that all workers now enjoy high levels of autonomy in their work. There is evidence, for example, that the impact of automation and new technologies has resulted in a 'deskilling' of many workers, particularly women, minority groups and people in lower paid jobs, with a concomitant reduction in working conditions and relative pay rates (Braverman, 1974, Pringle, 1988). This perspective will be discussed in the next section in relation to the 'proletarianisation' of teachers.  Occupational autonomy, in both its manifestations at the individual and collective level, is clearly no longer the exclusive right of members of traditional professions. It has become a characteristic of work which should be experienced to some degree by all workers.  2. Autonomy in teaching Occupational autonomy for teachers is a concept which has become linked to a continuing preoccupation with the 'professionalisation' of teaching. Autonomy is an important concept for teachers, but I resist the claim that such autonomy should derive from teaching's status as a profession. Some background to the debate about teaching as a profession is necessary to substantiate this rejection.  Teachers are an occupational group which has been much troubled by pursuit of status as a profession. As long ago as 1932, Willard Waller was speculating about the reasons for what he described as the "low social standing of the teaching profession" and the push by some educators at that time to turn teaching into a "real profession" (p.64). Waller rejected such a call, recommending instead that teachers should leave teaching for a period and "mingle with his  14 fellow men [sic] as an equal" so that they could broaden their "narrow social and intellectual training" (p.64).  The debate has continued with some scholars arguing that teachers are professionals (Boyer, 1983, p. 185; Langford, 1978, p.53), and others supporting the more common interpretation which is that teaching is not a profession according to the structural functionalist definitions or ideal-types (Hughes, 1971; Mills, 1953; Parsons, 1954). Teaching, like nursing and several other traditionally female dominated occupations, has been relegated to status as a 'wannabe' in the stakes for recognition as a profession (Etzioni, 1969; Hughes, 1971; Leggatt, 1970; Leigh, 1979). Berg (1983) highlights the ambiguous 'professionalism' of teachers in his observation that there is "fairly general consensus that teachers cannot be regarded as professionals in the sense that, for instance, doctors and lawyers can. However, most writers believe that teaching involves some elements of professionalism" (p. 177).  Teaching has been perceived to fail to measure up to the criteria for a profession on several grounds. Almost thirty years ago, Etzioni (1969) summarised teaching's apparent 'shortcomings': Their training is shorter, their status is less legitimated, their right to privileged communication is less established, there is less of a specialized body of knowledge, and they have less autonomy from supervision or societal control than "the" professions, (p.v) Whereas most of these claims would now be challenged, the question of the existence of a shared body of specialised knowledge in teaching has continued to attract scholarly attention. A number of writers who have supported the notion of teaching as a profession have concluded that teachers have yet to develop such a theoretical foundation for their work (Cohn & Kottkamp, 1993, p. 155; Darling-Hammond, 1986; Dreeben, 1970, p.207; Goodlad, 1984, p.269; Langford,  15 1978, p.9; Lortie, 1975, p.58).  Some educators  have circumvented their perceptions of teaching's  'shortcomings' as a  profession, by constructing the occupation as a "semi-profession" (Etzioni, 1969) and "quasiprofession" (Hughes, 1971). These perspectives serve to position teachers within a deficit framework. Such interpretations force teachers to play 'catch up' to the mores and values of other occupations, when a more productive effort could be invested in positively framing teachers' occupational reflections within the realities of their own experiences and work context.  To advocate such a framework is not to dismiss the reality of teachers' material working conditions which may mitigate against  developing a more contextualised  and positive  occupational identity. Dale (1981), for example, argues that teacher autonomy is "situated", in that their freedom to carry out their work in their own way is relative, restricted to their own classrooms, and likely to vary from school to school (p. 312) (see also Hatton, 1985). Pursuing a similar theme  is Nias (1989), who observes  that teachers possess  only a "bounded  professionalism", without the full complement of rights or conditions of work which professionalism traditionally denotes.  Teaching's lack of status as a profession has been a recurring concern amongst educational scholars over the past fifty years, but the concern reached fever pitch during the scrutiny of the occupation by numerous educational reform reports published in the United States in the early 1980s. Reports such as A Nation  at Risk (1983), the Report of the Reagan Administration's  National Cornmission on Excellence in Education; the Carnegie Forum on Education's report, A  16 Nation Prepared: Teachers for the Twenty-First Century (1986); and the Holmes Group report, Tomorrow's Teachers (1986); struck up cries of an alleged 'crisis in teaching' and pointed much of the blame at teachers and the occupation's lack of professional status. In Australia, a similar rash of reports in the late eighties and early nineties heralded renewed interest in the problems teaching faced as an occupation (Board of Teacher Education, Queensland, 1987; Crowther, 1991; Dawkins, 1988; Schools Council, 1989 & 1990).  In addition to these formal reports were a number of studies conducted by individuals and small groups of academics into the state of education in the United States. These studies ultimately spawned a virtual education industry which has come to be known as the 'effective schools' literature. These studies highlighted the symbiotic relationship between effective schools and teachers and the presence of high levels of teacher autonomy. In her study of the "good high school", part of which was included in the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching study of secondary education in the United States, Sara Lawrence Lightfoot (1983) observes that: ...we also discover that good high schools offer teachers the opportunity for autonomous expression, a wide angle on organizational participation and responsibility, and a degree of protection from the distorted social stereotypes that plague their profession, (p.25) She posits the notion of "autonomous expression" as a positive and enriching opportunity for teachers. In other publications emerging from the Carnegie study, Boyer (1983) and Perrone et al (1985) focused on teaching as a profession. Boyer recommended that it was necessary to "strengthen the profession of teaching in America" (p.7); and Perrone et al (1985) argued that "teachers need a stronger sense of professionalism" (p.655). In his study of American high schools, Sizer (1985) discusses the "crisis" in confidence among American teachers and arrives at an analysis which equates autonomy with professionalism:  17 Our culture signals respect in at least three ways. We give people autonomy: we say, We trust you enough to solve this problem not only for yourself, but for us all. In the world of work, we dub this autonomy 'professionalism', (p. 183) These scholars identified autonomy as one essential step toward a sort of 'holy grail' for teachers - their pursuit of status and respect in the community.  Challenges to the claims and responses of the reform reports flooded the educational literature, as scholars from a variety of ideological standpoints in both North America and Australia, critiqued the diagnosis and cures posited by these educational reformers. Powell, Farrar and Cohen (1985) argue that in many respects the proposals emanating from these reform reports were "profoundly misdirected" (p.302) and would merely reinforce many of the limitations of the existing system of education. Freedman (1990) criticises the underlying assumptions of the education reform reports produced in the United States during the 1980s. She has a particular concern with their use of the concept of autonomy and argues that "autonomy, uncritically defined in these reports as positive, is mythologized as a natural attribute of professionalism" (p.252). This is a presumption which she strongly rejects. Cohn and Kottkamp (1993) write of a "rhetoric of crisis" being generated by these reports, and criticise the way in which teachers had been: ...treated more like uninformed hired hands than professionals to whom we entrust our most precious asset...Their voices have not and still do not inform the actions taken to rectify what reformers believe to be the matter with education in the United States, (p.xvi)  Many of the critics of the reform reports have taken exception to the values and meanings embedded in the moves to 'professionalize' teachers' work, and have challenged the imperatives from these reports driving teaching to become a profession. An alternative prognosis of the state of the occupation emerges from the deliberations of these critics in both North America and Australia. They argue that teachers are being deprofessionalized, deskilled or proletariatized as an  18 occupational group (Apple, 1986; Aronowitz & Giroux, 1985; Casey, 1993; Connors, 1989; Fawns, 1994; Harris, 1990; Hargreaves, 1994; Lawn & Grace, 1987; Ozga & Lawn, 1981; Smyth, 1991). Lawn & Grace (1987) summarise these critiques by arguing that "professionalism is not an innocent, non-political occupational concept. It is deeply implicated in the politics of teachers' work and in the wider politics of teacher-state relations" (p.x).  Somewhat paradoxically, the recommended solutions offered by many of the reports and studies, when translated into state policy, appear to have moved teachers further away from the norms and mores of the traditional professions. State authorities across the United States responded to diagnoses of a deep-seated  malaise in the teaching occupation by introducing stricter  accountability measures such as standardized testing, and strategies to achieve closer supervision of the work of teachers.  Michael Apple's (1986) critique of the reform reports focused on their "proposals to rationalize and standardize the work of teachers and the curriculum", which he interpreted as part of the longer history of the "state's attempt to control the labor process not just of its workers in general but tacitly of women workers in particular" (p. 144). In the preface to Kathleen Casey's life histories of women teachers, Apple targets the lack of teacher voice on the report committees: Even though many of the recent spate of national reports on education in the United States had a few teacher representatives involved, by and large the voices of teachers have been largely silenced. Even more difficult to hear have been the voices of politically active teachers. (Apple in Casey, 1993, p.xii) These concerns have also been articulated in 'intensification theory', which points to such an increase in the intensification of the work of teachers, that they are losing control of their working lives. Hargreaves (1994) writes of a:  19 ...bureaucratically driven escalation of pressures, expectations and controls concerning what teachers do and how much they should do within the school day. Much of that somewhat self-defeating process of intensification comes from the discrepant time perspectives and understandings that are embodied in the sharp and widening divisions between administration and teaching, planning and execution, development and implementation, (p. 108) Cohn and Kottkamp (1993) argue that teachers are experiencing "structural shock" as a result of a diminution of authority and autonomy in their work (p. 142). They suggest that although teachers have acquired some of the "accoutrements  of professional status", they have  simultaneously lost some of the "traditionally high level of authority and autonomy they have exercised in classroom decision-making" (p. 142).  The continuing tension between those who argue that teachers should look to the attributes and status of a 'profession' as their ideal and those who reject such moves, should not be used to reject autonomy as a valuable characteristic of teaching as an occupation. There are strong arguments from both sides of the debate which support high levels of teacher autonomy, whether it be construed as a necessary prerequisite for professional status, or as I would prefer to position it, as an appropriate and worthy goal for teachers as workers. Calls for the latter are hardly new, as evidenced by a speech given by Margaret Haly, a labor leader from the United States, early this century. In her impassioned speech to the General Session of the National Education Association in 1904, she implored teachers to organize to improve their working conditions, arguing that: The teacher [is] an automaton, a mere factory hand, whose duty it is to carry out mechanically and unquestioningly the ideas and orders of those clothed with the authority of position... The individuality of the teacher and her power of initiative are thus destroyed, and the result is courses of study, regulations, and equipment which the teachers have had no voice in selecting, which often have no relation to the children's needs, and which prove a hindrance instead of a help in teaching. (Hoffman, 1981, p. 214)  20 A variety of practices showing the "individuality of the teacher" and the power of her or his initiative are shown in this study of Thornton College.  This case study aims to fill several gaps in the literature about teacher autonomy. Firstly, although numerous studies make mention of teacher autonomy, it is usually as a peripheral issue addressed in the course of the examination of other foci, for example, as one element of a broader examination of teachers' work (Cohn & Kottkamp, 1993; Lortie, 1975); or as part of a study with an emphasis on educational administration and organization (Johnson, 1992; Street, 1989; Welch, 1991). This case study focuses directly on teacher understandings of their individual autonomy. Secondly, the existing literature has been largely founded on studies in North American or British schools and as Huberman (1993, p.34) points out, cultural differences in schooling may play an important part in understanding teachers' meanings for particular elements of their role and identity.  Finally, several studies have found that it is in their classrooms that teachers experience the highest degree of autonomy in their working lives (Dreeben, 1970, p.47; Sclan, 1993). In his study of 38 schools and 1,350 teachers across the United States, Goodlad (1984) concluded that "the teacher is virtually autonomous with respect to classroom decisions - selecting materials, determining class organization, choosing instructional procedures, and so on" (p. 123). I sought to explore whether teachers in a Queensland school enjoyed such high levels of autonomy in their classrooms, and whether their understandings of autonomy were similarly focused upon their work in the classroom.  21 Chapter summary Occupational autonomy for individual workers has come to be generally applauded. Some feminist scholars, do however, express reservations about concepts of autonomy for workers, in particular in relation to the impact of autonomy on collaborative and collegial work practices. In both its collective and individual forms, autonomy has traditionally been preserved as a characteristic of the work of members of the traditional professions, but this exclusivity has been eroded by popular notions of professionalism and demands for increased accountability from all workers, including those in the traditional professions. For teachers, autonomy has been most usually linked with the struggle for professional status. It is, however, more appropriately framed by an inclusive understanding of occupational autonomy, which extends to the work of all people. Teachers' understandings and experience of individual autonomy are contextual and limited, as this study will show.  22 CHAPTER TWO  METHODOLOGICAL FRAMEWORK  1. Understandings of ethnography This case study of a Queensland independent school focuses on teacher autonomy, using as a methodological framework the ethnographic techniques of observation, interviews, and document analysis.  In the lengthy process leading up to entry to a field site, I drew on a broad range of literature to position my research. Three theoretical frameworks which are interconnected in their theoretical roots and practical applications, particularly influenced the way I ultimately designed and conducted the research - ethnography, critical ethnography and feminist theory and practice. The methodological approach which I adopted is therefore a hybrid in nature, with particular aspects of each of these traditions being drawn upon at different times, to allow an inquiry which was contextualised and constantly evolving.  I came to my research with a philosophical and political commitment as a feminist. The theoretical and practical implications of this commitment are difficult to isolate because they permeate my work at every level. Some may argue that my research is not 'feminist research' because although it is research by a woman, it is not exclusively on women and I do not see it as being especially for women. I did not choose a research question which dealt with 'obvious' feminist issues, although where I perceived it to be relevant and appropriate during the research, I followed a course of inquiry and analysis which could be described as feminist. I did not pursue an ethnographic approach because of a belief that it was "particularly appropriate to feminist  23 research" (Stacey, 1988, p. 112). Like Stacey, I was wary of the potential for intrusion and manipulation by the researcher in ethnographic work, whether she espoused a feminist consciousness or not (p.l 13). Ultimately, I concur with Stacey's conclusion that it is not possible to have a "fully feminist ethnography (but) there can be...ethnographies that are partially feminist, accounts of culture enhanced by the application of feminist perspectives" (p. 117). My goal was for this study to be such an account.  In understanding the ethnographic approach I have taken in this study, it is necessary to delineate 'traditional' or 'naturalistic'  ethnography from the more recently evolving 'critical' or  'postmodern' or 'poststructuralist' approaches to ethnography. Operating from firmly within the naturalistic framework, Malinowski (1922) posited the ultimate goal of the ethnographer as to "grasp the native's point of view, his [sic] relation to life, to realize his vision of his world"(p.25). Lederman (1990) described ethnography as aiming to "enable one's audience to understand something of interest about a corner of the world they have not experienced directly themselves; to share that to which one's field experience has given one access" (p.82). Ottenberg (1990) sought to "understand another people and to write about them" (p. 151). These and other definitions of traditional ethnography focus upon the descriptive and immersive qualities of the research approach. I find these definitions of ethnographic work limiting, particularly in their lack of a reform agenda, and thus I prefer to position my work within the approaches to research espoused by those known as critical ethnographers.  Critical ethnographers have been engaged in a process of negotiation towards different emphases and goals for ethnographic work than those chosen by their predecessors in the field. Apple  24 (1986) frames the critical ethnographer's work within a set of questions: The politics of the researcher, how one's 'subjects' are constructed in the act of research, who the research is actually for, the role of the institution one is studying in the larger society, what that larger society looks like - these are often the driving questions that lie behind nearly all critically aware ethnographies, (p.7) Anderson (1989) applies such understandings to the use of critical ethnography in educational contexts, and argues that the critical ethnographer's concern is with "unmasking dorninant social constructions and the interests they represent, studying society with the goal of transforming it, and freeing individuals from sources of domination and repression" (p.354). Such researchers have largely rejected the claims to objectivity and value-neutrality which are the hallmarks of the empiricist approach. In acknowledging what is considered to be humanly implausible, that is, research without a value position, critical ethnographers have attempted to come up with alternative frameworks of validity.  Common to most of these emerging frameworks is the acknowledgement or inclusion of some form of 'transformation' in the research design. As a direct descendent of critical theory it is no surprise that critical ethnography retains an interest in the advancement of theory which is emancipatory, empowering or transformative. Angus (1986) argues that the interpretivist tradition of ethnography is limited by its failure to acknowledge the role of power in analyses of the structural location of'human actors' (p.62). He argues that the use of critical ethnography in the study of schools is a preferred alternative and advocates a critical ethnography which would "attempt to expose the contradictions, located in time and space, that allow for the possibility for organisational and ultimately of social transformation" (p.66).  Simon and Dippo (1986) explore the implications of critical ethnography and offer three  25 "fundamental conditions" for warranting such a label. The second of these conditions is that "the work must be situated, in part, within a public sphere that allows it to become the starting point for the critique and transformation of the conditions of oppressive and inequitable moral and social regulation" (p. 197). Quantz (1992) defends the theoretical tradition of critical ethnography and argues that "by exploring the concrete particulars of cultures located in historical material relations with theoretical commitments to democratic transformation, critical ethnography has contributed much to our present discourse" (p.497). Carspecken and Apple (1992) contend that a critical field study is one which is "aimed not only at making an empirical-descriptive contribution but also a theoretical contribution - deepening our understanding of core social-theoretical concepts such as 'action', 'structure', 'culture', and 'power'" (p.511).  Critical research therefore seeks to do more than merely 'paint a picture' or 'represent' social relations; it seeks also to challenge and change the status quo which maintains inequitable power relations based on class, gender, race, ethnicity, age, or sexuality. The goal of emancipation of those oppressed by such power relations, thus emerges as a central element of the critical research agenda. This goal is replete with problematics. McRobbie (1982) articulates a number of valuable questions about the 'researcher/researched' relationship, which are of particular significance to those seeking a critical approach to ethnographic inquiry. She asks: ...why should we assume that we can actually do anything for them? Is this not an immensely patronizing stance? How can we assume they need anything done for them in the first place? Or conversely that we have anything real to offer them? (p.52) McRobbie highlights the inherent arrogance of such presumptions, a concern which is shared by those scholars engaged in a parallel critique of critical and feminist pedagogy (Ellsworth, 1989; Gore, 1992; Luke, 1992).  26 This study attempted to meet the transformative or emancipatory element of critical ethnography in several ways, attempting to avoid some of the traps flowing from uncritical assumptions. The definition of emancipatory goals was a fluid process rather than something which I specified at the beginning of research and adhered to rigidly through to the conclusion of the study. As Roman (1993) notes: Exactly what constitutes emancipatory ends and means - as well as the justificatory grounds for research - would have to be deliberated at the outset and re-negotiated continually in light of what is known about the specific configurations of power relations between the researcher and the research subjects, (p.308) With a focus on teachers and the construction and contexts of individual occupational autonomy for teachers, I had the opportunity to make a contribution to the theoretical understanding of the power relations which exist in all schools, and thus fulfil the transformative function suggested by Carspecken and Apple (1992) and Quantz (1992). Such theoretical insights as I have generated may have some impact on policy in a number of areas, but most specifically, on policy about teaching as an occupation, teachers' effectiveness in schools and their broader contribution to the education process.  My study also provided an opportunity for some level of transformation for the teachers who volunteered to take part. By creating an opportunity for teachers to critically reflect on their professional identity, I tried to engage them in a process of personal and professional development. But such a goal was coloured by the ultimately interventionist role that I played as a researcher in the school (McRobbie, 1982; Stacey, 1988). As Lightfoot (1983) acknowledges, "whether people are energized, enhanced, disoriented, or made more critical because of the researcher's presence and inquiry, it is important to be cognizant of the interventionist quality of this work and assume responsibility for establishing the boundaries of interaction and exchange"  27 (p.372). It is not possible for me to predict how such personal and professional development may have an impact upon the individual or power relations embedded within the school, the education system or society.  The administrators of the school clearly hoped that my study would provide them with a type of report card on the school, which they could then act upon. The deputy principal, Adele Mathews, commented that there is going to be some important feedback for us, I think, because our way of  seeing it may not be the way that it is (A1.1026) . 1  One of the co-principals, Richard Simpson,  made the point several times that the best thing I could "offer" the school was an outsider's interpretation of what they were about. He implied that this would give the administrators something to work from if changes needed to be made in the school. Ultimately, although I would like to think that I attained some level of the transformative goal of critical ethnography, I will be happy to have achieved as little as that aimed for by Whyte (1943/1970) in his naturalistic study of Cornerville: They helped me, in part, because they thought my book might help Cornerville. That is perhaps too much to expect, but at least I hope that it will not bring harm to them or to any of the people of Cornerville. (p.ix) My understanding of the evolving tradition of critical ethnography includes an acceptance that my interpretation and portrait of the school is what Clifford (1986) calls "inevitably partial" (p.7). Rather than seeking the objectivist, reified 'truth' of the world I experienced at this school, I sought "rigorous partiality" (Clifford, 1986, p. 25), whereby I acknowledged my position as the interpreter of all I 'saw', but attempted to frame my picture in the mind maps of those who worked in the school. In his novel Even cowgirls get the blues (1976), Tom Robbins excuses his failure to keep his tale in chronological order on the basis that literature can not mirror reality. He  28 believes that: A book no more contains reality than a clock contains time. A book may measure socalled reality as a clock measures so-called time; a book may create an illusion of reality as a clock creates an illusion of time; a book may be real, just as a clock is real (both more real, perhaps, than those ideas to which they allude); but let's not kid ourselves- all a clock contains is wheels and springs and all a book contains is sentences, (p. 124) A study such as this has no more claim on portraying reality than do the books or clocks referred to by Robbins.  Ethnography has traditionally been based on an acceptance of the generation of 'thick description'. The most oft cited reference to thick description is to the anthropologist Clifford Geertz (1973) and his claim for ethnography to create a rich portrayal of the research site (p. 6). In borrowing this term from the philosopher Gilbert Ryle, Geertz variously uses it to mean intelligible description (p. 14), densely textured description (p.28) and description resulting from long-term observation of a micro-environment (p.23). He argues that the anthropologist's material is most significant where it is generated from "long-term, mainly (though not exclusively) qualitative, highly participative, and almost obsessively fine-comb field study in confined contexts" (p.23).  A blind acceptance of Geertz's notion of thick description risks an emphasis on description at the risk of critical analysis. In a reflection on the role of field notes, Clifford (1990) argues convincingly, that "by associating ethnographic construction with description, however thick or problematic, Geertz limits a possibly far-reaching critique. For description inevitably suggests a specular, representational relation to culture" (p. 68). I, therefore, sought to go beyond thick description, to produce an analysis which incorporates both micro and macro levels of analysis  29 and critique. I did this by situating responses from teachers within a framework consisting of my own interpretations of the social relations in action in the school, and understandings taken from the research literature to inform such perspectives.  2. W h o a m I? In his prison notebooks, Antonio Gramsci (1971) reflected on the process of critical analysis in philosophy and looked to Socratic philosophy for some insights. He concluded that the "starting point of critical elaboration is the consciousness of what one really is, and is 'knowing thyself as a product of the historical process to date, which has deposited in you an infinity of traces, without leaving an inventory" (p.324). The declaration of the "traces" and the values which emerge from the researcher's understanding of her or his position in society, are closely linked to the advocacy of reflexivity by critical ethnographers (Quantz, 1992, p.475; Simon & Dippo, 1986, p.200; Van Maanen, 1988; p.73; Wolf, 1992, p.3). Sanjek (1990) argues that "our theoretical and ethnographic productions are, at last, subordinate to the social, political, symbolic, and economic issues that move and motivate us" and that these "never permit escape" (p.255). Some attempt at acknowledging these issues and forces is appropriate. I agree, however, with Gaskell (1992) who argues that political self-consciousness need not mean personal confession, but: ...rather a serious conceptual analysis of the frameworks that are being used, and an argument for their usefulness. Politically situating the research in this way can help the research have an impact, while at the same time improving the conceptual logic and academic value of the study, (p.32) I do see a role for positioning myself as an individual in the research and attempting to declare my own value perspectives (Quantz, 1992, p.471). My interest in teachers' work stems from over a decade's experience as a teacher in a number of secondary schools and a university in Queensland. I taught briefly in a state secondary school  30 early in my teaching career, but the main part of my seven years of teaching experience in schools has been in two independent schools. Both of these schools were girls' only, one being nonsystemic Catholic and the other owned by the Presbyterian and Methodist Schools Association. I held a position as a head of a department in a secondary school for a number of years and this experience of middle management left me with sympathy and empathy for teachers in similar roles. I was particularly niindrul of this as an influence on my field observations and analysis.  My understandings of teachers' work are coloured by the experience of serving on the union council for teachers in independent schools (Queensland Association of Teachers in Independent Schools (QATIS) which is discussed in some detail in chapter 6.2), where I dealt with a wide range of educational and labour relations issues. Many of the industrial disputes which came before this union related to issues about the boundaries of teachers' roles, responsibilities, and to questions of teachers' autonomy as an occupational group. I struggled at times with my role as a teacher advocate and the sometimes contradictory belief that teachers did need to be accountable to employers, students, parents and the rest of the occupation, for their actions.  Before beginning doctoral studies, I spent two years working in a staff development unit in a large metropolitan university in Queensland. This experience included consultations with individual academic staff on aspects of their teaching, and the presentation or teaching of workshops and courses on a range of subjects related to tertiary learning and teaching. My interest in professional development has been maintained, particularly as it intersects with understandings of the roles and responsibilities of teachers, whether they be at a tertiary or school-level.  31 These experiences informed the theoretical frameworks on which I drew both explicitly and implicitly. My fieldwork and analysis were premised on the assumption that the Australian education system is characterized by unequal power relations and oppressive conditions for many teachers. O f particular interest to me were the power relations which reflect male domination of women and the gender constructs which result from the pervasiveness of this inequitable distribution and exercise of power. The goal of transforming such power relations and challenging the hegemonic discourse which pervades education, is therefore an express aim of my research.  Such a commitment to understanding power relations in educational contexts naturally led me to an interest in the control that teachers may and may not have over their working lives and environments. I entered the field with a belief based on experience and intuition, that there is a strong connection between high levels of teacher autonomy and effective schools and teaching. I was interested to see whether and how this connection played out in a school with a declared commitment to teacher autonomy.  My own biases, ambitions and ideals were tested and prodded as I spent time in the school and began the process of analysing the data. I 'read' Thornton, the teachers and all my interactions and observations through my own experiences as a teacher, a unionist, a subject co-ordinator and a student. I brought to this research both an insider's and outsider's understanding of teachers' work. The colours and textures of 'the Thornton' I present in this study are therefore very clearly influenced by my own teaching and life experiences.  32 3. Focus Questions In contrast to the relatively open-ended ethnographic studies conducted by many researchers (Acker, 1990a; Wolcott, 1973), this study was framed by a particular set of what Miles and Huberman (1994) call "orienting ideas" (p. 17). These centred on the fairly obvious hypothesis that an individual school context is instrumental in positioning and influencing teachers' perceptions about their work, in particular, their understandings of the level of autonomy they enjoy in their working lives. My focus during the interviews and observations was therefore on those features  of the Thornton school context which appeared to influence teachers'  understandings of their control over their working life and environment.  I was interested in exploring how teachers understood and experienced individual autonomy. The literature on sociology of work and occupations identifies autonomy as an important construct of all occupations but it is a relatively under-researched concept in relation to teachers. Ozga (in Ball, 1993) calls for researchers to "bring together structural, macro-level analysis of education systems and education policies and micro level investigation, especially that which takes account of people's perception and experiences" (p. 10). This study integrates an exploration of the macro influences on the autonomy of teachers at Thornton with a micro perspective of teachers in action, gleaned from field work in the school.  My interest in autonomy was overt to the school community, since the letter of introduction I provided to all participants included a synopsis of my research focus. It stated that I was interested in "exploring the dynamics of teacher autonomy as may exist within a particular school context". I entered each interview with a framework which included questions about autonomy.  33  Sometimes I introduced the topic with direct questions - Do you feel that you have autonomy as a teacher in this school? Autonomy from what or whom? What do you understand by the term autonomy? How important is it to you as a teacher to have autonomy? Some people did not require a prompt question, but led me indirectly into the area, for example, by mentioning professionalism or their perception of teaching as a profession. Such comments allowed me to raise questions about an individual's perceived levels of autonomy more incidentally during the course of the interview.  4. Selection and access issues How did I make a decision about which school to approach as a possible research site? Sampling is not a notion which is restricted to the territorial ambit of quantitative research. There is the challenge of what Glaser and Strauss (1967) describe as "theoretical sampling" in qualitative research, whereby researchers sample to identify the properties of theoretical categories rather than to achieve a broad representative sample of a particular population. As a case study, the sampling in this study was refined to an issue of the selection of one field site. So, why did I choose Thornton College? Selection was ultimately serendipitous, opportunistic and subjective, but it was framed by an initial rationale and process of choice.  Single case studies such as this run the risk of being challenged on grounds of their lack of representativeness and, thus goes the argument, the inability of any accompanying analysis to be generalisable. This argument is framed by the criteria of quantitative research and an essential ignorance of the possible 'truth' claims made by ethnographic studies. Griffin (1991) dismisses this criticism on the grounds that "field research is less obsessed with representativeness, and  34 more concerned with examining the processes through which social and cultural dynamics operate" (p. 117). Miles and Huberman (1994) make the point that within a single case study lie many other strata. They argue that "much qualitative research examines a single 'case,' some phenomenon embedded in a single social setting. But settings have subsettings (schools have classrooms, classrooms have cliques, cliques have individuals), so deciding where to look is not easy" (p.27).  I began with a desire to study an independent school, and further reduced that to independent schools which were not connected to one of the non-secular education systems operating in the state (e.g. the Brisbane Catholic Education Office). My interest in basing my field work in an independent school stemmed from a number of factors. Firstly, I am interested in a general sense in independent schooling, the operation and organisation of such schools and their educational offerings. A n increasing number of parents in Australia are opting to pay for an education for their children by sending them to schools in the expanding independent sector (see Appendix A). I would argue that the burgeoning interest in such schools demands a level of public critical insight into them as educational institutions, which may to some extent run at odds with their designation and character as 'private' institutions. My own background in education as both as a student and teacher in independent schools in Brisbane, fostered this academic interest. I was also interested to see how individual teacher autonomy was understood by teachers in an independent school and what factors influenced their experience of autonomy. Some of these factors may emerge as having resonance with schools of both sectors, but some would undoubtedly be particular to the school and the non-government schooling sector.  35 In making a decision to study an independent school I was also rather naively attempting to avoid what I anticipated would be a lengthy access negotiation with the State Department of Education to conduct a study in one of their schools. For the same reason I narrowed the options within independent schools to those which were not Catholic systemic schools, under the auspices of the Brisbane Catholic Education Office. I thought that access may have been easier where I only had to negotiate with the principal and Board and not a central bureaucracy as well. In retrospect, this reasoning may have been misguided.  A further criterion was also a personal and pragmatic one (accepting Van Maanen's (1991) call for the field worker to "recognize as legitimate the personal matters that lead one into a project" (p.33)). I felt that proximity to my home was worth considering when I anticipated spending an intense period of fieldwork at the school. So the first school I contacted was close to where I lived. I realized after two rebuffs that proximity was a luxury I could not afford, and my third choice of school was on the other side of the city from where I was living.  In choosing the first two schools I approached, I was mindful that I had some personal knowledge of the school or professional connections with them. The first school was chosen because it was well known to me as an independent school, and quite similar to the school at which I had most recently taught for six years. I thought my case might be helped by the fact that I was known by a number of staff in the school and that although I did not personally know the principal, I knew of her by reputation, as I am sure she did me. The second school was chosen because it was again an independent school, and I had worked there many years before in a non-teaching capacity; the principal knew of me, and the deputy principal knew me quite well.  36 Failure to negotiate access to either of those schools made me discard personal or professional knowledge, and I approached Thornton College. It was independent and geographically removed from me. I did not know anyone at the school, and I had no idea if I was known to staff at the school. The school had a reputation for innovative approaches to education and apart from my interest in what I understood staff were doing, I thought that commitment to 'progressive' practice might make the school open to a researcher.  I believe that my research was particularly enriched by the 'lucky' selection of Thornton as a field site. I would ultimately, however, endorse Wolcott's (1973) conclusion when he ascribes his 'selection' of Edward Bell, the elementary school principal he shadowed over a two year period, down to "good fortune" rather than any systematic process ( p i ) .  Two stages of the research process stand out as particularly fraught with frustration and angst. The first was gaining access to a school and the second was the transcribing process which will be discussed later in this chapter. It took me five months to negotiate access once I returned to Australia from Canada, and somewhat longer if I date negotiations from thefirstletter of contact (June, 1994) I sent to a school. Reading of similar experiences of other researchers provided only fleeting comfort. Linda Valli (1986, p.216) took five months to negotiate access to a school and teacher for herfieldworkin the United States. Paul Atkinson's (1981) study of a Scottish medical school took over a year to negotiate.  I returned from Canada to Brisbane in late August 1994. Shortly before my departure from Vancouver I received a letter from the principal of the first school I approached, saying that she  37 would be very interested in talking to me about my research project on my return to Brisbane. I rather foolishly and optimistically interpreted this to mean that I was 'on my way' in terms of negotiating access to this particular school. On my return I made several phone calls to the principal's secretary and I was eventually informed that the principal had "consulted the staff and that they had said they were too busy" and thus I would not be able to do my field work at that school. I was philosophical about this setback at the time, although obviously disappointed. My frustration came some weeks later whilst attending a dinner party, when one of the other guests disclosed that the staff had never been consulted, neither had heads of departments and the change in the principal's response to my request appeared attributable to undisclosed reasons. I approached a second school, which after some weeks also denied access on the grounds that they were all "too busy" and that a school review was planned for 1995 and would be taking up a lot of additional staff time.  I sent a letter of contact to the third school in early November and then followed up with a phone call two weeks later. I spoke with the person on the reception desk at Thornton. She said that Richard Simpson, one of the co-principals would get back to me but that it was a very busy time for the school. Having heard nothing, I rang back a week later and sent a second copy of the original letter outlining my research intentions. The summer school holidays intervened, which in Australia come over a six week period at Christmas time, and from early December to late January the school was essentially closed, with no opportunity to follow up my initial attempts at contact.  I recontacted the school in late January and within days Richard Simpson rang back, most  38 apologetic about the length of time he had taken to get back to me. He said he was very interested in having me at the school, particularly because they had made a special effort to encourage teacher professionalism in the way they had not structured the school. He said they would appreciate feedback about how successful they had been in strengthening teachers' sense of professionalism.  He spoke with great enthusiasm about a trip he had made to the United States and Canada in 1993 to visit a number of schools. We briefly discussed schooling in North America, and my experiences in Canada. He arranged to ring me back within the week to confirm a time for me to meet with the rest of the administration team, namely Paul Browning, the other co-principal, and Adele Mathews, the deputy principal. In the call confirming that meeting he said that the administration team had sent out a memo to all staff outlining my research, asking anyone for problems with it to reply to the administration team within a few days. He felt that such a process was a formality but that it was necessary to consult with the whole staff before committing the school to the research. Later in an interview, Adele Mathews revealed the importance of this step: We at one stage agreed to some people coming in to do research. Because we thought it  was really good we got them to come to the teachers' meeting to speak. Now in hindsight,  they 're a bit of a captive audience, and maybe that isn't fair. So for your request, we pu a note on the noticeboard and explained what you would be doing and if anyone's got  any problems, will you come into the teachers' meeting to talk about it please...I thin you learn. A 1.965 Richard Simpson rang again to report on the staff reaction to the research proposal. He said that everything was fine but that some staff were concerned about the time implications of my study  39 for them. He said that he was aware of Bob Connell's research and it seemed that my approach was going to be similar to that. He also discussed his experience at the Harvard Graduate School of Education where he had done a short course for principals during his sabbatical in 1993. He occasionally received a newsletter from them which had recently included an interview with Sara Lawrence Lightfoot. We discussed the similarities between my research and that conducted by Lightfoot in The Good High School (1983). I was immediately struck by his familiarity with such educational research and his readiness to integrate it so naturally into his conversation. I got the feeling that this was not merely for my benefit but something which he did as a matter of course.  My first visit to the school was on the 16th of February when I met with the co-principals, Richard Simpson and Paul Browning, the deputy principal being sick that day. They turned the agenda of the meeting over to me, so I briefly explained what I wanted to do and they seemed generally agreeable to the tenor of my approach. They raised a number of issues during the course of this meeting which are important to acknowledge because they were an initial frame for my entry to the school.  Mindful of avoiding any direction or manipulation of my research, they asked if they could highlight a number of aspects of the school which they felt could be overlooked. The pivotal nature of outdoor education to the curriculum of the school was one of these. This did not surprise me, as during my wait in the foyer I had noticed a number of prominently placed photographs of students engaged in abseiling, kayaking, rockclimbing and other outdoor activities. They were eager for me to understand the totality of what they called the Thornton  experience.  40 They discussed the unique administration structure adopted at Thornton. Simple structural processes had been implemented to aid in the sharing of leadership in the school, including the rotation of administration meetings through their three adjoining offices, and a rotational chairing of staff meetings by the administration team: They also mentioned that they did not have special car parks allocated to them, and as a result they sometimes missed out on a space in the car park in the school grounds!  Some time was devoted to the best way of introducing the research to the staff. Richard was concerned that a staff meeting might not be the most appropriate time because of problems experienced by other speakers at staff meetings. In addition, it became clear that someone had attempted to conduct doctoral research at the school some years ago, and that his/her approach antagonised the staff to such a degree that there was some resistance to allowing someone else in to "study their school". I was, however, keen to speak to the staff as a whole, so that I was introduced to everyone at once, and that consequently people would not speculate about the unknown woman wandering about the school. It was decided that I would write to all members of staff outhning my research and that I would speak briefly at a staff meeting.  Staff meetings at Thornton are significantly called 'teacher meetings'. This nomenclature underlines the oft made presumption that teachers are the only 'staff in a school. In this way, Thornton acknowledges that there are other workers in the school other than teachers, who are also credited with the title - staff. I spoke at the teachers' meeting on the 20 February 1995. Richard introduced me and I gave a ten minute overview of my research, and spelt out the particular commitment I was asking for from teachers. I handed out the letter I had prepared (see  41 Appendix B) and then invited questions. There were none, and I observed for the remainder of the teachers' meeting. Thus, the following day, some five months after my return from Canada, I commenced myfieldworkin the school.  The official sanction of access to a field site is clearly not the end of the negotiation process. Gaining access is something which is ongoing throughout a study (Burgess,  1991,  p.43;  Delamont, 1992, p. 102; Shaffir & Stebbins, 1991, p.25). I 're-requested' access to a number of events which I felt were a little out of the range of the normal school routine and where my presence might cause some difficulty for the participants. For example, I approached the union representatives for permission to observe an enterprise bargaining meeting of staff one lunch hour in the final weeks of my fieldwork; and I approached the principals for permission to attend a professional development day at the beginning of Term Two which focused on industrial issues connected with the enterprise bargaining agreement. The only request I made which was denied was to attend a Council meeting. Richard Simpson thought that there may be delicate topics discussed at such a meeting and that it would be better if I did not attend.  The negotiation of access to a field site was a valuable although frustrating learning experience. A significant learning outcome was that research involvingfieldworkis not only labour intensive but also time intensive, and that the best, most strategic planning can not overcome the simple need for time. M y experience of the process also provoked a number of other insights into this stage of the research.  The individual in a school with the power to make a decision about research is the principal. Yet I  42 discovered that it is very difficult to get direct access to the principal of a school if you are an outsider,  particularly someone  seeking permission to conduct  research.  The notion of  'gatekeepers' is a common thread to discussions of access in qualitative research projects (Broadhead & Rist, 1976; Burgess, 1991; Hammersley & Atkinson, 1983; Wax, 1980), and in the school context, my experience was that it can be very difficult to get beyond the receptionist or principal's secretary.  I only managed to get through to the secretary of the first school I contacted, and the deputy principal of the second school (because she had taught me at school and knew me quite well). I never spoke directly with either principal, despite requesting an interview in writing and on the telephone. At Thornton, my initial contact was with the school receptionist, but after several calls I got through to one of the co-principals. The notion of secretary as gate-keeper is clearly well and truly entrenched in schools.  I selected the first two schools I approached, in part because I felt that I had a personal connection of some sort with them. Admittedly, the experience of approaching two schools for access is very limited, but I am not so sure that being 'known' is necessarily an advantage to gaining access. The issue of how or for what one is known is also significant in gaining access. In the first two schools I contacted I was known slightly by the principals and known well by numerous other members of staff. (See Hammersley & Atkinson (1983, p.53) for their discussion of the benefits of being known.) I was well known in the teaching community of both of the schools, but this did not assist me in getting access. It is conceivable that being known worked against me. In the school I eventually got access to, I had no close connections, although I knew  43 of several people who taught there through other colleagues or friends.  One of the greatest challenges for a researcher is balancing the need to be assertive and 'pushy' with the need to respect others' rights to deny access. If a school chooses to say no to a researcher, surely it is entitled to do so. In my third letter, I changed the format slightly to include a concluding sentence which said that I would ring by a certain date to discuss the letter with the principal. I made this change to overcome the delay I encountered with the second school, when some four weeks passed between sending the letter and my follow-up phone call, at a point when no-one had contacted me. The lesson was clear, people in schools are very busy and if you seek a prompt decision, it is necessary to take the initiative yourself and make a follow-up call shortly after they should have received the initial letter of contact.  Burgess (1991) points to the "politics of social investigation" as an important dimension to access considerations in qualitative research. It is clear that the nature of the focus of research looms as a significant factor in such politics, particularly in terms of gaining access. A particularly controversial topic may well intimidate gatekeepers at potential research sites. A colleague (who is not a teacher) read my letter of contact after I had secured access to a school and she felt that the topic of my thesis would have scared her off from allowing me entry. She said that the notion of teacher autonomy "screamed at her" as having the potential to stir all sorts of conflict up in a school. That may be so, but the ethical dilemma of being open and honest with people countered any temptation I had to temper the topic so as to make it 'more acceptable'.  Particular research questions may reward the researcher with quicker entry than others, depending  44 on the politics of the question and approach adopted. For example, the Exemplary Schools Project (1995) in Canada, which was premised on a positive perspective for prospective schools in terms of their 'exemplary nature', posed relatively few problems in terms of access. As noted by Shaffir and Stebbins (1991) in their discussion of the problems of gaining access in qualitative research, "the chances of getting permission to undertake the research are increased when the researcher's interests appear to coincide with those of the subjects. Gatekeepers of formal organizations may believe that the research will report favourably on an issue they wish publicized" (p.26).  My research interest was independent schools which have apparently limited public accountability (although this point is debatable and is further discussed throughout the study), nor do they need to account to a central office's demands to be part of a research project. Their very independence meant that I could approach each school directly through the principal rather than through a central Education Department Research Department (the process for seeking permission to do research in a state school), but it also meant that the principal was in the position to say yes or no, independent of any external pressure. Independent schools are private organisations, and as such, reflect similar problems of entry that researchers 'studying up' have encountered, where they have sought access to institutions that would prefer to remain private.  5. Field work If cultural anthropology is any guide, an ethnographic account of a particular site can potentially take many years. In contrast, some researchers utilising ethnographic methods spend only a brief time in the field. Delamont (1992) concludes that the 'usual' ethnographic research period ranges  45 from at least six weeks to a year (p. 150). The intensity of time spent in the field over the total period offieldworkmust also be factored in. For example, a day a week over two years may not represent the same sort of experience as intense and continuous observation over one or two months.  There is clearly no rule about the appropriate length of time to spend in the field. Walker (1988) spent five years working on his ethnography of a public high school in Sydney. Peshkin (1986) devoted four semesters tofieldworkin a fundamentalist Christian school. In his ethnography as an 'insider' from a position as a member of the teaching staff, Bullivant (1978) spent fifteen months studying Lubavitcher School, one the few fulltime Jewish schools in the state of Victoria, Australia. Everhart (1977) devoted two years to a study of student life in a junior high school in the United States.  In contrast to these quite lengthy periods in the field, are the brief intervals spent in the field by researchers in the Carnegie Foundation's study of American high schools in the 1980s. Observers in that project spent a minimum of twenty days at each school site, although some spent more time. Perrone et al (1985) noted that: Although twenty days were not enough for a rigorous ethnographic study, they allowed, as it turned out, sufficient time for experienced observers to gain a significant understanding of the schools, their principal motifs, and the issues that confronted them. The observers were able to capture in important ways the life of the schools; they came away in every case, with powerful impressions, vivid vignettes, and poignant personal statements, (p.2) Sarah Lawrence Lightfoot includes her contribution to the Carnegie project, a case study of Brookline High School, in her study of six secondary schools, The Good High School (1983). Although her interviews and observations were conducted over three years, they were based on  46 very short periods at each of the six schools. She makes no claims for her "portraits" as ethnographies, but she used ethnographic strategies in painting her pictures of the schools.  My time spent in the field fell between these two positions. Deciding on the span of a school term was in part an acknowledgement that schools may not welcome a researcher for an extended period, whereas a term seemed to be an arbitrary but controlled time frame. In addition, I paid heed to the cautionary advice proffered by Hammersley and Atkinson (1983): It may be possible to undertake the occasional period of extendedfieldwork,but these are hard to sustain....In any event, long uninterrupted periods offieldworkare not always to be encouraged. The production of decent field notes, the indexing and filing of material, writing memoranda and reflexive notes are all time-consuming and demanding activities. Very long periods of observation will thus become quite unmanageable, (p.48)  I attempted to gain entry to the school for the start of the 1995 school year (the Australian academic year beginning in late January and ending in early to mid December for the summer vacation). Due to the lengthy access negotiations, I did not begin until two weeks into Term One. I spent the remainder of Term One and about a month into Term Two in the field. For much of that term I spent four days a week in the school, and attempted to leave one day for working on field notes at the computer. In order to accommodate staff needs for convenient times for interviews, Ifrequentlyspent five days a week in the school.  I was disappointed that I had not managed to see the school in the opening weeks of the new school year, well aware that as Delamont (1992) suggests, "the opening days of a new academic year are especially productive for researchers" (p. 86). Capturing some sense of the school at that time of the year would also have fulfilled the cyclical or holistic perspective sought by ethnographers. As Wolcott (1973) notes, "anthropologists embarking upon an ethnographic  47 inquiry usually attend to the range of activities that comprise a complete cycle of activities among their subjects" (p. 178). Delamont's concern related to the importance of the beginning of the school year for studying student groups, but it is just as significant for studying the work cycles of teachers. The orientation for new staff, the first staff meeting for the year and other rituals of the teacher's life can be seen as vital for her or his socialization within a particular school culture.  The question of when to leave the site was partly determined by completion of the schedule of interviews and observations that I had developed during the fieldwork. Whyte (1943/1970) highlights the need to draw the line somewhere, because the reality is that "in a sense, the study of a community or an organization has no logical end point. The more you learn, the more you see that there is to learn" (p.325). The notion of leaving the field at the point of theoretical saturation (Glaser and Strauss, 1967), or when you have achieved what Fine (1983, p.252) describes as the point of "diminishing analytical returns" remain arbitrary signposts, despite attempts by some to quantify them. I adopted Delamont's (1992) more intuitive approach which was to "stay long enough to appreciate the depth of the material" (p. 141).  No doubt further developments took place in relation to all of the significant threads I was attempting to observe during one term's fieldwork, but I drew the line in mid May. I had originally planned to stay for one term in the school, based on intensivefieldworkover that time. By the end of Term One 1995, a very long school term, I had almost completed the 63 interviews I had scheduled, but I felt the need to include some more formal observation of teachers in their daily routine. I returned to the school in Term Two, and spent a further three weeks doing the final interviews and most of the formal observations. I felt that the interviews and the informal  48 observations I had made in the previous term were sufficient, but that the formal shadowing periods would give additional support for some claims. This also gave me an opportunity for observation of the commencement of a new term, if not a new year.  Data were collected through a combination of semi-structured interviews, observations of the everyday routine of the school's life, shadowing of teachers, and examination of documents such as school magazines and archival materials (the latter being very scarce at Thornton). Traditional ethnographic work has often progressed on a developmental and incremental model with data collection strategies evolving over time. This is acknowledged by Ball (1984) in describing his fieldwork at Beachside Comprehensive: None of my reading on research methods seemed to turn up a model offieldworkpractice which I could translate straightforwardly into a structured routine of data collection at my school. I was left very much to my own devices to arrive at a set of working methods which, as I refined them over time, began systematically to build up various sets and categories of data, (p.71) I entered the field with a clear research strategy in mind. I was prepared to make changes and accommodations to the plan, but it gave me considerable comfort during the initial stages of fieldwork to have some sense of what to do next. My knowledge of schools and previous experience doing similar research undoubtedly assisted in framing a strategy which I felt was appropriate for the particular context.  I decided that I would attempt to interview all members of the Thornton staff - teachers and support staff - who were prepared to accede to my request. I felt that a random or selective sampling of staff for interviews in a case study of this kind could too easily leave out an important piece of evidence. I did not, however, extend my interview schedule to include students or  49 parents. I felt justified in this decision on the basis that my focus was on teachers' perceptions of an aspect of their working lives, and that although interviews with students and parents would yield insights into the operation of the school, they would be unlikely to add to an understanding of the research question. I felt, however, that the support staff in the school could provide insights into teachers' work in the school from a different perspective, and I therefore included them in the interview schedule. I ultimately interviewed all 57 of the teaching, administrative, and support staff. I conducted 63 interviews, speaking with some people more than once.  No member of staff refused to be interviewed. One member of staff I approached early in my time at the school, had recently experienced a family problem and he asked to be excused at that time, but when I asked him again some weeks later, he was very happy to be interviewed. I was pleasantly surprised that my experience did not support Delamont's (1992) prediction that "most researchers find one or more staff who refuse access or are deeply uncomfortable at an outsider's presence" (p.88).  Informed written consent was obtained from each person who agreed to be interviewed or shadowed. The meaning of 'informed consent' is somewhat problematic, but I proceeded on an understanding of the term as consent which is "knowledgeable, exercised in a situation of voluntary choice, made by individuals who are competent or able to choose freely" (Thorne, 1980, p.285). I concur with Wax (1980) in his analysis of the paradoxes inherent in obtaining consent in fieldwork, that "consent is not contractual, but developmental; it is a process, not a single event" (p.282). I therefore did not frame consent within the one-time assent given by the co-principals to my research, but continued to renegotiate the conditions for consent with each  50 participant.  There were several opportunities for renegotiation of consent with individuals during the research process. I gave people time to read the consent form before the interview began, and although they had signed the consent form which included details of the taping process, I always reiterated the question as to whether they minded having the interview taped. As mentioned earlier, I also renegotiated access to several events which I considered to be potentially controversial, out of a concern that my presence as observer may have an effect on the proceedings.  In the consent form, and at the beginning of each interview, I made assurances to staff that their responses would be cited anonymously and that I would attempt to maintain that anonymity in the way I used their responses. I was however, well aware of the difficulty of assuring such anonymity in such a small community, and I made that clear to people in discussions about anonymity. I invited teachers and support staff to choose their own pseudonym, selecting a name they would easily remember, so that they could track any comments taken from their interview. Some people chose a name which is more commonly used by the opposite gender. Despite the problems I envisaged with this in the analysis, I allowed these selections because it meant that people felt less identifiable in particular contexts where a name associated with a particular gender would clearly identify the speaker. Thus when comments are identified by name in the text, the gender of the speaker cannot be presumed by the name used. When analysing responses I took care to look for gender patterns before I used the comments as supporting evidence, and this is acknowledged in the analysis. In some sections which may be perceived as controversial for the school, I have left out the pseudonym and identification number because there is a possibility that  51 the identity of speakers could be deduced from the context. I chose the pseudonyms for the administrators because the decision to withdraw the school's name was made at a very late stage. After an initial reading of a draft the administrators agreed to my using the school's name, but after threats by one member of staff to take legal action over one section of the draft, the administrators decided to withdraw permission and the pseudonym of Thornton was adopted.  I avoided using techniques such as composite voices (Connell et aL 1982; Sizer, 1985) because I feel that it is important to reflect the integrity of the voice of each individual. I agree with Wolcott (1973) that: To present the material in such a way that even the people central to the study are 'fooled' by it is to risk removing those very aspects that make it vital, unique, believable, and at times painfully personal. I have instead tried to keep the real actors in mind in every sentence I have written, attempting constantly to anticipate whether those actually involved in the interaction recorded here would accept the account as I have rendered it. (P-4) I found that as I was writing up the project I had no difficulty in 'bringing up' a picture in my mind of the individual I was citing, her/his role in the school and even the look on her/his face during the interview. The real actors were therefore always in my mind as I wrote and reflected on the data.  Most of the interviews lasted a teaching period, approximately forty-five minutes. They were generally conducted at a table in an enclosed courtyard area adjoining the staff common room. A number of people referred to this table as 'Carol's office', and it became a space in which I felt quite comfortable and at which I could readily be found. It was sufficiently private to give people a feeling that no-one else could hear what they were saying, but it was also sufficiently public to give me a profile in the school for the time I was there.  52 All interviews were taped and transcribed verbatim. The consent form I used indicated that interviews would be taped, but in addition I verbally asked people at the beginning of the interview whether they would object to the taping. Only one person hesitated, and at the conclusion of the interview she asked whether she could take the tape home that night to check what she had said. I agreed and she returned the tape the next day, seemingly happy with the outcome.  Some ethnographers and biographers have indicated a degree of reluctance about the use of tape recorders for interviews because of the impact their presence has on the interviewee and the effort that is involved in transcribing them (Malcolm, 1994, p. 183; Wolcott, 1973, p.9). Wolcott (1973) observed that "only the remarkable frankness which the staff exhibited during interview sessions [made him feel] that the time and effort invested in the tapes were warranted"(p. 10). As I lumbered through the process of transcribing 63 tapes of at least 40 minutes each, there were moments when I shared Wolcott's hesitance. But in the end, I knew that had I been consumed with the activity of writing notes throughout the interviews, I would not have made the connections that I feel I did make with staff, and I would not have engaged with them as successfully.  In interviewing Edward Bell, the "man in the Principal's office", Wolcott became aware of things other than the subject on the tape, including a persistent squeak in the Principal's chair (p.9). My interviews were often held in an outside venue, and during the transcribing process I became aware of the vibrant and plentiful birdlife at Thornton, as very noisy crows at times overwhelmed human voices. A neighbouring school used an electronic bell which rang through very clearly on  53  the tapes, and reinforced the positive impact of the absence of bells at Thornton.  I began the mterviewing process with an interview schedule comprised of a number of questions or areas which I wished to explore. I rarely referred to this schedule, preferring to allow the issues I was interested in to flow out of individual responses. In asking questions I made a point of beginning with familiar territory for people -1 asked about their history in the school, what they had done before coming to Thornton - things which they could answer easily. I then led into questions which were, in a sense, more difficult. These questions asked people to evaluate particular structures and features of the school. I attempted to end by inviting people to suggest changes or improvements to the school, which was a way of providing a sense of closure to the interview.  Despite their daily routine of speaking to a 'public' audience, many teachers initially found the interview context confronting and uncomfortable. This was a sharp reminder to me of the very artifice of the interview, even in a culture where the media interview is a daily part of our viewing and listening experience. An interview remains an event which is orchestrated and not a 'naturally' arising situation for either the interviewer or the interviewee. It is clearly not only people from cultures other than one's own who find the interview threatening or alienating (Briggs, 1986).  The inherent 'politics' of the interview have been acknowledged by many researchers (Johnson & Johnson, 1990; Patai, 1988; Oakley, 1981; Sanjek, 1990). Briggs (1986) argues persuasively in his exploration of the interview as a "communicative event" that the interview itself must be the  54 subject of critical reflection. He claims that the interview is a "collectively created portrait of 'the real world' which is produced with our goals as a researcher firmly framing it" (p. 120). By imposing our own expectations of the communicative event, the interview, on our interviewees, we are committing "communicative hegemony" (p. 121).  Janet Malcolm (1994) observes in her reflections on the process of researching and writing biography, that: In most interviews, both subject and interviewer give more than is necessary. They are always being seduced and distracted by the encounter's outward resemblance to an ordinary friendly meeting. The meal that is often thrown around it like a cloth, to soften the edges; the habits of chat and banter; the conversational reflexes, whereby questions are obediently answered and silences too quickly filled - all these inexorably pull the interlocutors away from their respective desires and goals, (p. 173) In her study of the lives of lesbian teachers, Khayatt (1990) acknowledged the limitations of the interviews she conducted with eighteen women. She notes that despite the detail of the interviews, they are incomplete pictures of the women's lives because the women were: ...bound by my questions, by the context of how I organized my framework, and by the narrowness of my interest in their lives. Since I caught them, for the most part, on one specific day in one particular mood, what has been captured is this moment, bracketed and analysed, a moment in their lives as well as in my own. (p.241) In response to the temporality of the "bracketed moment" of the interview, at the end of each interview I invited teachers to write down further ideas after the interview and to pass their reflections on to me. This was also an attempt to give teachers the opportunity Lather (1991) writes of in her espousal of emancipatory approaches to research - "to encourage self-reflection and deeper understanding on the part of the researched at least as much as ... to generate empirically grounded theoretical knowledge" (p.60). No-one offered me a follow-up written reflection.  55 The use of transcribed interviews as data has been recognised by a number of scholars as problematic. Tripp (1983) recognises the inherent problems of the transcribed interview as data in his comment that "transcription must be recognized for what it is: a method of analysis which, like all such procedures, exposes, discloses, obscures, and deletes certain information" (p.35). There are also the limitations which Laslett and Rapoport (1975) note: Even when an interview is recorded, an incomplete record of the interaction between the interviewer and respondent is obtained. Much that occurs at the beginning and end of the interview is lost, and many interviewers find that these moments may provide crucial information, (p.972) The non-verbal communication that flavours conversation is also lost in the transcript of the interview. The transcribed interview is, as suggested by Dorothy Smith (1987), an "edited version" of the actual interaction between two people, because "the editorial function of the tape recorder has reduced the totality of the interview process to the verbal sequence defining the interview as such" (p. 187). I think these observations are valid, particularly where transcribed interviews are analysed by researchers who have not conducted the original interviews. But as mentioned earlier, I had a surprisingly clear recollection of each interview I conducted, which was aided by accompanying field notes made after each interview. I was thus able to recreate more of the "totality" of the process than would have been produced by a transcript alone.  As I suggested earlier, the transcribing process was quite simply a nightmare. The cost of having professional transcribers work on the tapes was prohibitive. It took me several months to transcribe all 63 interviews despite being a quite proficient typist. I found, however, that although it was an incredibly time consuming activity there was real value in doing it myself. Listening to the interviews as I typed them meant that I was revisiting and immersing myself in the 'spoken' voice of the people I talked with, not merely their 'written' voice on a page. I refined the coding  56 scheme (which slowly evolved during the fieldwork) as I worked through the transcribing process. I suspect that as a result, the coding was much more comprehensive than it would have been had I produced it from merely reading over the transcripts. Even so, I had to continually remind myself that transcribing was an essential stage in the research process, rather than an inconvenient and seemingly endless chore eating into precious time. As noted by Richards and Richards (1987), there is a quite stark contrast between "the low status of messy clerical tasks" and "the glamour of field research" in the minds of many qualitative researchers (p.24), and transcribing is too easily dismissed as such a menial task.  The ethnographic approach I adopted included both formal and informal observations. The importance of complementing interviews with observation has been recognised by a number of researchers. Sanjek (1990) argues that too often with interview-based research, "the 'field' is approached indirectly or even shut out (Powdermaker 1966:22). Ethnographers need to see as much of their informants' turf as they can" (p. 188). In an illuminating account of her ethnographic methodology, Lareau (1989) observes that it was very important for her to "supplement the interviews with classroom observation which improved the interviews and enabled [her] to 'triangulate' in a way that would have been impossible with interviews alone" (p.217). Cohn and Kottkamp (1993) argue that one of the drawbacks of their replication of Lortie's work was the absence of observations. They did not corroborate their data from teacher self-perceptions with observations of classroom or other behaviour (p.294). I was conscious of the limitations of observations in generating insights into teachers' perceptions of their working world. Jackson (1968/1990) reminds the researcher that the behaviour of the teacher in their classroom does not always reveal what we want to know:  57 Occupational attitudes, the feelings of satisfaction and of disappointment accompanying success and failure, the reasoning that lies behind action - these and many other aspects of a craft are scarcely visible except through conversations with a person who has experienced them. (p. 115)  Formal observations included the 'shadowing' of six teachers for a day each, following them through their daily routine. I also observed a number of events or meetings that contributed to the life of the school during the term, including the Leadership Ceremony, the Easter Service, a parent information evening, a bomb hoax, teacher meetings, subject co-ordinator meetings, collegial group meetings, a professional development day and a union meeting. I generally sat at the rear of a room for such observations and took notes during the proceedings. I found the Staff Noticeboard an interesting focus for continuing observation, and took regular note of postings on it over the weeks that I was in the school.  More informal observations took place during casual conversations, meetings in the school grounds, or lunch. These opportunities for observation were seldom planned, but proved to be invaluable. As Delamont (1992) notes, "informal interviewing in the field setting is the main way that hypotheses can be tested" (p. 110). I did not take notes at lunch or morning tea, but I often jotted down observations afterwards, although only impressions or the general direction of conversations, nothing verbatim. At one formal meeting I felt compelled not to take notes because I misread the room dynamics and ended up sitting beside the person chairing the meeting. The meeting was to discuss employer enterprise bargaining proposals and I felt that my note taking may be misinterpreted and potentially inhibit the discussion.  Each evening I transcribed my field notes to the computer and filled out further details which I  58 had not been able to record at the time. I made analytical memos in spaces between the observation notes and transcribed them into separate computer files which were cross-referenced to the field note files. A close friend in Canada had given me a blank book as a parting gift, in which she inscribed the wish for a successful ethnographic journey. During myfieldworkI wrote about impressions and concerns in this book.  I foraged for and collected any written documents I could locate during my time in the school. These included the school prospectus, policies, teachers' handbook, school magazines, action plans from teachers' meetings and school newsletters. The search for archival material proved rather fruitless, partly because the school has not yet arrived at a point where it perceives itself as an historical entity. This was despite a call in a review of the school done in 1992, for maintenance of records and archives so that "the history of the school is reported for future reference"  (Thornton Evaluation Report, 1992, p. 100). There were several collections of  photographs in the school library, but little other material to which I was given access.  My first day of fieldwork at Thornton was February 20, 1995. Stacey (1988) argues that "ethnographic writing is not cultural reportage,  but cultural construction, and always a  construction of self as well as of the other" (p. 115). I was very conscious of the importance of positioning myself in the school in a particular way, but the nuances of that position are quite difficult to articulate.  At a superficial level there was the question of what I wore. Delamont (1992) argues that "it is important to record what is worn, and why, and to think carefully about what is being conveyed  59 to potential respondents by clothing and other bodily signs" (p. 85). I would neither choose nor was I capable of adopting, the "researcher as kewpie doll" persona, as described by Griffin (1991) in her ethnographic study of the transition of young working class women from education to work in England. She had consciously worked towards constructing a "suitably respectable feminine appearance" (p.l 13), but was in hindsight critical of the outcomes of this positioning.  On my first visit to the school I took careful note of the 'dress code' adopted by teachers. I was keen to attempt to dress in a similar way to teachers in the school, so as to make myself as visually unobtrusive as possible in the field. In contrast to my observations at other independent schools, including those where I had taught, the dress standards I noted on my first visit to Thornton were very casual and informal (as will be discussed in chapter 4.2(H)).  At my first meeting with the co-principals, they were wearing good casual clothes, certainly not the suit and tie attire that is the common dress of many male principals in similar schools. At the teachers' meeting which was my first formal meeting with the staff, there were women and men in shorts, a couple in jeans, a number in the then fashionable outdoor boot, and some in runners. I therefore adopted a casual form of dress, although I only wore jeans on one day when I was interviewing one of the co-principals and was spending no extended time in the school grounds.  My field notes from the second day of fieldwork read "Today is my first 'real' day...I was nervous, uneasy, apprehensive...I have to be assertive and just approach teachers. I think they are just waiting to be asked" (Field notes, 21.2.95). By the Wednesday of my first week in the school, I was clearly more comfortable in the school as my field notes indicated - "I did feel more  60 comfortable in the school. I made myself sit with people at lunch and morning tea. After morning tea, I managed to line up most of my interviews for next week...Everybody has been very friendly...I'm enjoying the process of discovery" (Field notes, 22.2.95).  The desire to establish rapport with people in the field is a recognised fundamental of ethnographic approaches. It is difficult to measure or quantify the level of rapport that I may or may not have achieved with the staff at Thornton. I can make the claim that I established a good rapport with the staff, and that there is evidence to substantiate the claim, but there remains a question about whether that could be put down to my attributes as an individual and researcher, or the school community's openness and willingness to accept me as a temporary member. It is surely somewhere in the middle of that spectrum of causality.  There were a number of conscious strategies I adopted in order to build trust and rapport with the Thornton staff. The first of these was to make it clear that I was a teacher, with previous experience teaching in independent schools. In a previous research project in Canada involving ethnographic work in a school I had found it to be an invaluable asset that I could claim to be a teacher. I had rather consciously played up this feature of my past because it seemed to help the teachers accept me as 'one of them', when my Australian accent very definitely indicated that I was not 'one of them', that is a Canadian. I had framed this identification with them in the way I asked questions, referring to teachers as we/us/our. I adopted a similar approach at Thornton.  This conscious attempt to identify with informants has been well documented in other ethnographic studies. McDonald (1987) emphasized her heritage as a Celt in her study of Breton  61 language activists, in order to make a real connection with those she was studying. Wolcott (1973) and Beynon (1983) similarly played great store by their status as former teachers. My success in establishing myself as a colleague with similar interests and background to the teaching staff was evident in the way some teachers responded during the interviews or lunchtime discussions. Several people made comments acknowledging that they knew I was a teacher, such as well, you know what schools are like (Julian T13.5).  Knowing the language of teaching, particularly the language of teaching in secondary schools in Queensland, was a valuable entree card to lunchtime discussions on a variety of topics (Wolcott, 1973, p. 12). The importance of making an effort to learn the language of the group being studied is acknowledged by Whyte (1943/1970) in his early study of Italian slum life in urban United States. He wrote that his efforts to "learn the language probably did more to establish the sincerity of my interest in the people than anything I could have told them of myself and my work. How could a researcher be planning to 'criticize our people' if he went to the lengths of learning the language?" (p.296).  Coming to terms with the language of teachers may be considered less of a challenge than learning Italian, but the particularities of the Queensland educational context demand some study in order to maintain an informality that is appropriate to lunchtime discourse. I therefore went into my fieldwork conscious of the advantages of 'speaking the language'. I was, however, concerned not to go too far and risk over identifying with the teachers as workers, but certainly in the initial stages of interviewing I used my identity as a teacher as a valuable pathway towards securing people's trust and confidence.  62 The benefits accruing from being familiar with the language and workplace of teachers are to some extent mitigated by problems which may occur when studying a familiar field site. In his discussion of methodological issues arising from fieldwork in a junior high school, Everhart (1977) argues that it is "extremely difficult to maintain the perspective of a "stranger" because the field worker is likely to have been socialized into the society or sub-society he intends to study" (p.2). It is possible for such a researcher to lose some of the critical eye necessary to document the commonplace and unquestioned.  The role of the researcher as a peripheral, marginal, transient, even 'alien' character in a school community or any research site has been well documented in the literature (Jackson, 1968/1990, p.xiv; Shaffir & Stebbins, 1991; Van Maanen, 1991, p.31). Freilich's (1970) description of the role of the anthropologist successfully elaborates this point, despite its phallocentric perspective: Irrespective of what role he assumes, the anthropologist remains a marginal man [sic] in the community, an outsider. No matter how skilled he is in the native tongue, how nimble in handling strange social relationships, how artistic in performing social and religious rituals, and how attached he is to local beliefs, goals and values, the anthropologist rarely deludes himself into thinking that many community members really regard him as one of them, (p.2)  Framed by the caveat that an ethnographic researcher can never be completely assimilated or accepted within a studied community, I believe that there was considerable evidence that I did successfully build a rapport and connection with the staff at Thornton. Some of the signs of this were superficial, but nonetheless significant, and others were more organic. It is not possible to establish whether the rapport was the result of my approach or whether it was a reflection of what Wolcott (1973, p. 12) calls 'institutional cordiality', where any newcomer is made to feel welcome.  63 The openness and warmth the staff showed me gave me the confidence to take part in staffroom conversation, and enabled me to feel quite comfortable walking around the school grounds, where I was greeted by name by most members of staff I encountered. Delamont (1992, p. 142) describes being incorporated into jokes as being a sign of achieving good rapport in the field. As I mentioned earlier, the table I interviewed from in the staff courtyard was referred to jovially by several people as 'Carol's office', and I felt this was a sign of inclusion in the community.  There was considerable interest shown in my research and I read this as a sign of my acceptance in the community. It may well have been out of politeness, but when I sat down at a break time, someone would inevitably ask me how it was going, or someone would ask questions about why I was doing my doctorate in Canada, or about some aspect of the research. A conversational approach to one's research may well have a positive influence on the establishment of rapport, as Lareau (1989) notes in her methodological appendix to her ethnographic study of home - school relationships. She found that such an approach was likely to "save many awkward moments, increase rapport with people in the field, and help prevent the problem of respondents feeling particularly 'on stage' when they begin to engage in the activities in which they know that you are interested" (p. 194).  Toward the end of the field work, a number of people asked me about whether themes were emerging from the interviews and observations. I was quite open with people, and said yes, some significant themes had emerged, and I would select some of them and discuss them briefly. Wolcott (1973) experienced a similar interest in his work from his subject Edward Bell, and his response to this was to point out "some facets of what I had observed that might interest him (for  64 example, the use of space in the meeting, circumstances under which a meeting might or might not occur, and limitations placed by external factors" (p.6).  Attempts were made by a number of teachers to include me in a number of staff social activities. I was invited by one group to Friday afternoon drinks and a party one Friday night. Another member of staff asked for my phone number so that we could maintain contact. Although superficial, these incidents substantiate a picture that I was to some extent accepted by many staff members and that my presence was not overly intrusive or obtrusive.  I was quickly drawn to several teachers as friends. I am sure they felt the pull of potential friendship as well, as evidenced by the social invitations I received to dinners or after school gettogethers. I was very tempted to accept these invitations, but I felt rightly or wrongly, that I should not become too friendly with the staff. The ethnographer must balance the building of rapport and establishing relationships with individuals in the field, with the need to retain a critical perspective. Powdermaker (1966) uses the words "stranger" and "friend" to describe this complex relationship (see also Everhart, 1977). The ethnographic taboo against 'going native' is testimony to the delicateness of involvement in the community being studied. I felt truly challenged by this aspect of my fieldwork, particularly with regards to opportunities to build friendships with individuals at the school.  Other ethnographers have documented their discomfort with 'friendship in the field'. Whyte (1943/1970) struggled with his position and decided that "while I sought to avoid influencing individuals or groups, I tried to be helpful in the way a friend is expected to help in Cornerville"  65 (p.305). In his study of a school principal, Wolcott (1973) wrote that he was "conscious that 'friendship' could present another nagging problem.::.My conscious goal was to establish a role as a warm, sympathetic observer without making all the commitments of a long-term friend" (p.6).  Yet fieldwork should not necessarily be a barrier to the development of friendships, as acknowledged by Shaffir and Stebbins (1991), in their claim that "fieldwork, its rigors notwithstanding, offers many rewarding personal experiences. Among them are the often warm relations to be had with subjects and the challenges of understanding a new culture and overcoming anxieties" (p.4). Burgess (1991) argues that thefriendshipshe developed during his time at Bishop McGregor School actually opened up situations for him as a researcher, as opposed to closing access to social situations (p.51). Oakley (1981) cites the long-term friendships she made with some of the women she interviewed, as examples of her establishment of rapport and achievement of reciprocity in the interviewer-interviewee relationship (p.46). Everhart (1977) mounts a convincing argument for buildingfriendshipsin the field, in the interest of collecting "data which are qualitatively different than those obtained as a stranger" (p. 13).  In retrospect, I think my reluctance to enter more deeply intofriendshipswas based on a notion that I needed to separate myselffromthe staff so that I could see them as critically as possible. I think that ultimately it was recognition of the particularities of my own personality, in particular a tendency to enter friendships rather wholeheartedly, that prevented me from following up invitations to make more long-term connections with individuals at Thornton. Could I personally critically analyse what was happening at Thornton if I had become especially friendly with some members of the school community? The answer may well have been yes, but I felt more  66 comfortable in my role as researcher with the decision not to become involved in social activities outside of the school day.  Perhaps the strongest, and most important evidence of my success in establishing rapport with staff was the way people responded during interviews. Staff were firstly, very happy to be involved in the research, and when they came to the interview, almost all staff spoke with what I would interpret as great openness and willingness. There were also several instances where people asked my advice during interviews, which could be interpreted as a sign that I had built sufficient rapport and trust with the teachers that they sought my advice. I was, however, deeply troubled by two of these instances as the teachers were seeking advice about a problem in the school. I felt that I had crossed an ethical line by pausing, stopping the tape recorder and suggesting some strategies that these teachers could use in addressing the problem. My field notes read: "I am very aware of the difficulties of walking that tightrope between digging for data and laying the foundations for getting such data, and not getting too involved or manipulating the situation" (Field notes, 28.3.95).  Oakley (1981) offers some assistance in this regard with her acknowledgement that "an attitude of refusing to answer questions or offer any kind of personal feedback was not helpful in terms of the traditional goal of promoting rapport" (p.49). Griffin (1985) similarly notes that she was not a "passive recorder" in her study of young women, because the young women in her study "used" her as a source of information and as someone "to moan to" (p. 108). In his study of students in a junior high school, Everhart (1977) encountered a similar situation to mine, and he justified the offering of advice to students as a "natural consequence of long term fieldwork" (p.9). He  67 observed that "people expect you to have opinions, they want to know how you think" (p.9). I attempted to rationalise my response as appropriate for an ethnographer with an interest in challenging inequitable power relations and maintaining rapport, but I remain cautious about the role of the researcher in such circumstances.  Whereas I detected little hesitance by teachers to be interviewed, I did sense a reluctance to allow me to observe in classrooms. The reluctance of teachers to admit outsiders into their classrooms points to constructions of teachers' work as private and intimate, and reinforces the sense shared by teachers at Thornton that autonomy in their work in classrooms was very important to them (as will be discussed in chapter 4.1). This reluctance also raises allegations of isolation which will be explored in chapter 5.2. On the day after my initial presentation at the teachers' meeting, and thus my first day in the field, I was approached by a teacher as I sat in the library looking through school magazines. She volunteered to be shadowed and interviewed and commended me on the way I had spoken at the teachers' meeting, saying how nice it was to hear from someone who appeared to know what they were talking about. I later discovered that this comment had to be seen in relation to a previous researcher who had worked in the school and who had not been particularly successful in creating rapport with the staff. I arranged to shadow the teacher the following week. I decided to wait until I was better established in the school before approaching anyone else to be shadowed. p Cynicism expressed by teachers towards researchers or outside 'experts' is not unusual. Hammersley (1984) describes the teachers in an English school as having an "ambivalent attitude towards research and researchers. They were very dismissive of all 'experts', and there were  68 comments within my earshot about the irrelevance of theory and the importance of practice and experience" (p.49). Siskin (1994) found that some of the teachers in the three schools she was studying "had painful experiences with other research projects (and) many questioned their value" (p.41). The sanctity of the classroom will be discussed in more detail in chapter 4.2, but it is sufficient at this stage to flag the cherished nature of the privacy of classroom teaching and the possible barriers this poses for researchers in schools:  Leaving the school was difficult. Before the Easter holiday period I had been tired and rather glad to come close to the end of my fieldwork, experiencing the fieldwork fatigue others have documented (Everhart, 1977, p. 13). But on returning after a week's break I felt quite refreshed and quite happy to spend more time in the field. I had reached a point at which it was natural to conclude, although as many have found, I could easily have justified - just one more week of observation, just one more follow-up interview, etc.  On the day I finished myfieldwork,I must admit that I virtually 'slunk' out of the school. I had run into Richard Simpson earlier in the day and had chatted to him about his cold, his interest in playing piano for a big band, and the fact that this was my final day in the school. I said goodbye to him in a very casual way, and made no other formal goodbyes at the school. This was partly because of my nature -1 am not very good at saying goodbye to anyone, but also because I felt that I was not actually saying goodbye in a final sense. I was returning to the school later to seek their feedback to my work and I felt that there was no point in saying goodbye at this stage. I did, however, send the school staff a card to say thank you for 'having me'. It read as follows: To the staff of Thornton, Many thanks for the warmth and openness you have shown me in the past months. I am  69 very grateful for the willingness you have all shown, to share your collective and individual knowledge and understandings of education. I conclude myfieldworkwith some sense of loss - as you have made me feel very welcome in the Thornton community. I look forward to sharing my 'findings' with you all, and to your feedback on my work, later this year. Best wishes.  6. Analysis of data In his novel, The Telling of Lies (1987), the Canadian novelist Timothy Findley writes of the essential idiosyncrasy of the process of interpretation: The order of events - with all its obvious importance - depends on witnesses; on testimony. I testify according to my witness. Whatever happens to me creates my personal sense of order. Whatever happens next to someone else will, necessarily, create a different sense of order and, therefore, a different sequence of events, (p. 131) As I stated in the introductory section which addressed my understandings of critical ethnography, the process of interpretation and analysis of the dramas in the field is similarly subjective and conditional. No matter how well I support analysis with evidence drawn from interviews, school documents or observations, the view of the school remains mine. As Grumet (1988) concludes, "our work, no matter what its form, is not the seeing itself but a picture of the seeing" (p.61).  I began the fieldwork with a number of questions about teacher autonomy and related issues. I did not, therefore, enter the field as a tabula rasa, but rather began with a package of "orienting ideas" which were structured and did influence the collection of data (Miles & Huberman, 1994, p. 17). These ideas and questions directed the research to an extent, but I would still argue that the themes and analysis documented in this study 'emerged', and that my approach was largely inductive rather than deductive (Glaser & Strauss, 1967). There were themes and codes which emerged in relation to the original questions which I did not predict, and I did not attempt to  70 force any preconceptions on to the emergent data.  I used a software package for qualitative data analysis developed at LaTrobe University in Melbourne, which is called NUD-IST (1995), an acronym for 'nonnumerical, unstructured data in qualitative research through indexing, searching and theorising'. I entered all the interview transcripts and field notes as raw files into NUD-IST. I created a coding schema during the fieldwork and refined it during the transcription process. Like Wolcott (1973) I engaged in a "a long gestation period for reading, discussing, mulling, and weighing alternative ways to excerpt and catalogue the notes" (p. 11) that had begun during the fieldwork. Armed with large sheets of blank paper I experimented with a number of code trees to find patterns or relationships in the codes that had emerged, before coding interviews and field notes in the NUD-IST program. There were ultimately 243 nodes or themes or codes in the tree for this project. Only a few of these were eliminated during the process of close analysis after leaving the field, and I think this was in part due to the opportunity provided during transcription, for refinement of the codes. After coding all the data, I printed out the entries at every node or code, which were also crossreferenced in directories in my word processing program, which I set up to store literature and ideas relevant to the emerging nodes. These printouts were filed in manila folders according to "parent nodes" and were stored in a portable filing box for easy access.  There is resistance and disquiet amongst some qualitative researchers in respect to the use of computer software such as NUD-IST for data analysis (Dey, 1993; Richards & Richards, 1987, p.28). Fears that qualitative research will be submerged in mechanistic strategies, whereby "the roles of creativity, intuition and insight in analysis are eclipsed in favour of a routine and  71 mechanical processing of data" (Dey, 1993, p.61) have been canvassed. Smith (1992) asks the question - "Does the increasing use of technology in analysis enhance scientific rigor, or does it inhibit intellectual and craft creativity?" (p.461). I think the caution expressed in this query is fair, but it also reflects a degree of conservatism of ethnographers, in the face of the opportunity to use tools such as NUD-IST to real advantage; and in a creative way. Ultimately, the computer is merely an instrument and the researcher is the artist.  By using NUD-IST I was freed from the overwhelming paper war that is inevitable with noncomputer based coding approaches. It would have been impossible to achieve any degree of consistency in coding at 243 nodes or themes without the aid of the program. I have a suspicion that had I been coding 'by hand', I would have attempted to reduce the number of themes to a more manageable number, and thus risked losing some of the perspective in my portrait of the school. I was also comforted by the fact that my data existed in several forms and in different places - the original tapes, wordprocessor files, NUD-IST, and hard copy printouts, because the fear of losing it was quite daunting. By the conclusion of the study, I felt that the program had allowed me to focus on the analysis and writing up of data rather than spending time searching and checking for data, because all the materials were sorted and easily accessible.  7. Reciprocity and respondent feedback I entered the negotiations with the school with the idea that I would like to offer the staff something in return for allowing me to conduct my research in their school. Reciprocity has long been acknowledged as a pragmatic way of achieving rapport (Everhart, 1977; Wax, 1952), but it is only more recently that it has attracted attention as a more idealistic goal for emancipatory and  72 critical researchers (Carr-Hill, 1984, p.281; Oakley, 1981, p.49; Lather, 1986b, p.263; Roman, 1992, p.581; Tripp, 1983, p.32).  The dilemma for the researcher with a commitment to reciprocity is finding a 'coinage' of real meaning to the research participants. Van Maanen (1991) argues that field workers must recognise that they cannot offer very much of obvious value to those who are studied (p.34). Deyhle et al (1992) argue that reciprocity may occur in a number of forms, but "one of the most important commodities exchanged involves the sharing of mutually beneficial bits of information" (p.627). Lightfoot (1983) implies a level of reciprocal 'usefulness' in her acknowledgement that one of the principals of the schools in her study, used her findings as the basis for a staff development day (p.376).  In my initial letter of contact, in subsequent phone calls to the school secretary, in a fax to the coprincipal and in phone conversations with him, I made reference to the fact that I was eager to offer something to the school in return for allowing me to do research there. I explained that I would be happy to do something quite tangible for the school, beyond sharing my research findings with them. I had in mind the possibility of doing some supply/relief teaching for them at no charge, or some other work I could offer professionally.  In my first phone conversation with Richard Simpson, he assured me that they did not expect me to do anything for them and that the sharing of thefindingswould be all the school would  expect  of me. He repeated this in the first two phone conversations we had to discuss the research project. His expectations of our 'research bargain' were therefore limited to an expectation of  73 exchange of my findings. I made an offer to the deputy principal that I would be happy to step in and do some supply teaching for 'free' if they could use me. I repeated this offer to the teacher who takes responsibility for supervisions ih the school, but at no time was I asked to fulfil my offer.  It was my intention to include member checks of myfindingsand analyses in this study. This goal was included as part of the research methodology on several grounds. Firstly, I felt that the real limitations of confidentiality and consent mean that participants should have the opportunity to withdraw their contribution to the study if they feel apprehensive. Secondly, checking back with participants is a significant way of achieving some level of correspondence between my interpretation of events and that of the participants. Finally, such checks are essential in a study which seeks to offer the 'researched' more of a voice in the process andfindingsof research (Ball in Burgess, 1984, p.90; Lather, 1991, p.64; Shaffir & Stebbins, 1991, p. 16).  There is, however, a danger in allowing respondents to 'control' or veto the interpretations of their comments that I offer as a researcher. I was mindful of the observations of Lightfoot (1983) and Borland (1991) on this issue. In her portraits of schools, Lightfoot cites a letter she wrote to one of the principals in her study about the role of member checks: The work loses its power and honesty, I feel, if it becomes a consensus document. If a collection of people other than the author, have veto power, it loses the edge of criticism (in its best sense) that makes it useful to you and your colleagues, to researchers, and to other schools that may be coping with many of the same complex issues, (p. 3 75) Similarly, in her work with women's life histories, Borland (1991) encountered a respondent who challenged her analysis of the interviewee's responses. Borland was concerned not to appropriate the narratives of others by interpreting the original authorial intentions of particular comments.  74 But she concludes that as feminists we must not restrict our interpretations to those offered by our "subjects", and that we must "attend to the multiple and sometimes conflicting meanings generated by our framing or contextualising df their oral narratives in new ways" (p.73).  I sought to give teachers at Thornton the opportunity to read selections from my study, in order to give some validation of my account, but also to acknowledge their role in the research process as something more than informants or subjects. I did not, however, agree that I would change any of my analysis were they not to endorse my findings. In acknowledging their feedback, but not resiling from my own analysis, I am in agreement with Delamont (1992) that "respondents' knowledge is different from ethnographers' knowledge, but not superior to it" (p. 159) (See also Lareau, 1989, p.213). To the end of seeking respondent feedback, I sent the senior administration team at Thornton a draft of the chapters of the study which focused on the school in the middle of September 1996.1 then met with Richard Simpson, Paul Browning and Adele Mathews on November 1 to discuss their feedback.  Despite the fact that the following discussion preempts the analysis located within succeeding chapters of the thesis, I will briefly outline the respondent feedback I received. The three administrators were generally supportive of my analysis and conclusions. Richard Simpson led with a summary of their response, which was to say that the work was enlightening, perceptive,  insightful and very well-written. He felt that it reflects a lot of what we would have seen here around us and that they had found it very useful to have an outsider's critical analysis of the school. He felt, however, that I brought a particular philosophical approach to the analysis that  75 they would not apply themselves, one that was Neo-Marxist and feminist and that seemed to emphasise conflict rather than harmony. They felt that their essentially optimistic view of human  beings, and their attempts to develop a school in which people's basic needs for belonging and shared vision could be met, did not come through strongly enough in the study. Richard emphasised that they were working from a conviction that if you merge certain human needs with the needs of an institution, like a school, you have a very powerful guiding perspective. He perceived that this thread did not emerge in my analysis.  They each offered corrections to a number of errors I had made in the detail of my description of the school, and then sought to clarify several issues. They began with discussion of the role of Adele in the senior administration team, and Richard expressed some concern that I had interpreted her position in the school to be less significant than the male co-principals. Richard felt that she was probably a more powerful deputy than most deputy principals in other schools, and that on some occasions she was in fact acting as a principal. In light of my observation that none of the senior administrators had postgraduate qualifications in education, Richard felt that I should note that he was now studying for a masters degree in education.  There were two major issues of concern to them arising out of the draft they read. The first was my representation of what I have called the 'grooming incident' (see chapter 5. l(i)). They felt that there was additional information that they had not given me at the time that they would like to have recorded, although they appreciated it would be unlikely to change my analysis. They explained that the grooming policy had been a very difficult decision for them, and was now one which they revisited each year. They had conducted considerable research into the 'uniform  76 policies' of other organisations in Brisbane, and discovered that no-one had arrived at a satisfactory resolution of gender equity and uniform consistency. Their decision was framed by a context of community expectations about school uniforms, in particular, parent expectations. They felt that they had strong support from the Thornton parents on this issue. Richard identified this issue as an example of the postmodern considerations facing school decision-makers in their struggle to reconcile so many arguably irreconcilable interests and concerns. Whilst they strove to be honest and open with students about the reasons for the policy, they had to cope with the challenge of 'serving' two client groups in this and so many other instances - students and parents.  The second issue of concern was their perception that a particular section of the analysis would have a damaging impact upon one individual in the school and possibly damage staff relations. I agreed to provide this person with the relevant section before giving the whole staff access to the document. I rang the individual concerned and explained that I had left the section at the front desk for him to read and respond to. Three days later I was notified by one of the co-principals that the individual felt that the section was defamatory and was considering taking legal action against me were I to include it. I agreed to meet with the administration team and the individual the following day.  As a result of the meeting I agreed to withdraw the section causing offence, although I expressed concern about doing so. Richard Simpson explained that he saw the issue as involving two competing, irreconcilable interests - my academic freedom and independence as a researcher, and the individual's professional reputation. I argued that there were other interests involved as well,  77 namely those of the teachers whose stories were to be removed. The administrators felt that some of those teachers might now, some eighteen months later, choose to change their comments, but it was felt that showing them the section would cause too many problems and harm in the school. There was clearly no possibility of a compromise position for the person concerned, so I agreed to remove the entire section. It was after this meeting that the administrators decided to change their minds about the use of the school's name in the study. The following week I took a copy of the research to the school so that staff could also respond, but did not receive any responses from teachers in the school.  I learned much from this final contact with the school, including further insights into the dynamics of collaborative research. I had attempted to engage with the school and teachers in an open and collaborative manner, building in the opportunity for respondent feedback as a major stage in the research process. I had made it very clear to teachers and the administrators that whilst I would acknowledge and include their feedback in my research, I would not necessarily change any of my analysis. This foundation for a researcher-respondent relationship had apparently been accepted and reciprocated by administrators and teachers at the school. Despite my best efforts to communicate the nature and role of respondent feedback in this study, at least one respondent felt that his feedback functioned as.an ultimate veto of the analysis. This difference in perception remains one of the great dilemmas of collaborative research approaches, because no matter how explicit the researcher may be about methodological agreements, a respondent may still object and seek recourse through some other channel, such as the legal system.  The threat of legal action by one of the teachers repositioned the researcher-respondent  78 relationship. My contact with personnel in the school prior to the final meeting had been characterised by a high degree offriendliness,collegiality and openness. Suddenly the dynamics of the relationship were refashioned in terms of threats, legalities and accusations about who was really the 'expert' in this situation (the respondent claimed to have sought legal advice and advice from a number of academics over night to support his case). The researcher-respondent relationship was reduced to a contestation about who was best positioned to wield the power in the relationship, whereas previously it had been a relationship between different but equal parties.  I was struck by the irony of the administrators' decisionriotto allow teachers to see the offending section. This was a school which had been established and was promoted as a 'teachers' school', yet the administrators were not prepared to allow teachers to make their own judgements about my analysis of the stories they had told me. Even though the concerned teacher had acknowledged the veracity of the stories I had been told, the teachers' stories were to be removed.  It is also difficult to overcome the inevitable time lag that besets most research. The data analysis and writing up are produced in a final form some time after the initial data collection. Much can have changed at the research site and participants' recollections of past events may become shaded or they may even reconstitute the past. In this study the process of respondent feedback began some 18 months after the initial data collection. Clearly, many changes had taken place in the school in that time. Administrators and the concerned respondent wished to deny the past, adopting what may be described as an 'anti-historical' stance, in preference for a present which they argued was quite different from that described in my study. Clearly, the researcher-  79 respondent relationship may be challenged by understandings of the nature and role of respondent feedback in the research process.  Chapter summary The methodological approach adopted in this case study was a hybrid, drawing on insights, theory and practice from the scholarly literature in ethnography, critical ethnography and feminism. The ethnographic techniques of observation, interviews and document analysis were used for data collection.  80 CHAPTER THREE  THORNTON COLLEGE  This chapter positions Thornton College within a particular historical, social, philosophical and educational context. It begins with the background to the founding of the school. I then 'take a walk' around the school grounds. I build a profile of the teaching staff in relation to other teachers in Australia and explore the significance of Thornton as a school started by teachers. The school was founded on the basis of a clear philosophical framework and the tenets of its educational philosophy are discussed in light of practices and social relations I observed in 1995.  1. The founding of Thornton College A frequent conversation starter in teachers' staffrooms across the globe goes like this - 'What we should do is start our own school'. It is an evocation that manifests itself out of a range of dissatisfactions, frustrations and ambitions, but it is one which is normally in the nature of rhetoric or fantasy, and is seldom acted upon. In the early 1980s, however, three teachers - Richard Simpson, Paul Browning and Bob Clancy, were working in a large, independent, boys' school in Brisbane, and they acted upon their talk and set up their own school - Thornton College .  Bob Clancy saw his motivation arising out of a case of put up or shut up, after criticising a variety of policy and practice in his school. For Richard Simpson, his involvement was, as he describes it, the result ot a midlife crisis. He explains:  Zf was time to do something new and exciting. Bob Clancy had been Chaplain at [school name deletedJwAew I went there in 1972. He left a few years after that to go and do other things...but during that time he, and I and Paul and others, had talked about education a fair bit. We were young and idealistic and talked about the sorts of things we felt a school ought to have, as I think a lot of young teachers do. But in 1984, Bob had been away for quite awhile. He phoned, pretty much out of the blue and he said - do you want  81 to have a go at this, I'd like to have a go, I want to get together and try to set up that school we were talking about. So in 1984, we got together and started to talk about it and plan it and it really wentfromthere. A2.43  Richard, Bob and Paul, were joined as founders of the school by Richard's wife, Rosemary Simpson, and Paul's wife, Fran Browning. Rosemary describes her motivation for becoming so involved in the Thornton project as wanting a place for our own girls. She was not comfortable with the choices available for her daughters' education, particularly the scarcity of coeducational independent schools in Brisbane. The commitment and energy necessary to establish a school was all encompassing, as reflected in Richard's comment that / don't think any of us would do it again because it consumed our lives (A2.63).  The group was committed to a collaborative, consultative model of operation for the prospective school, but it quickly became clear that one or two individuals would have to take on the responsibility for certain legal and bureaucratic responsibilities. Paul Browning explains that:  ...it became clear very soon that there really needed to be somewhere where the bu stopped There needed to be some person or persons for whom there was ultimate responsibility. Certain work had to be done, had to be followed up, people had to sign papers, and take some role and responsibility in putting their signatures on document And at that stage...both Richard and I were willing to give a commitment to the project...and say come hell or high water, we would stick with it as long as it was possible, as long as it was a viable project, and to give it 10 years or thereabouts to get it set up and running. A3.5 Paul took on the role of the principal, and Richard became the headmaster. Richard felt that this division occurred because it had been thought that Paul's role would be more demanding than his own, but he expressed concern about the sexist connotations of his title and the problems which arose from the difference in titles. As a result, after a few years the two senior adrninistrators became known as co-principals.  82 Adele Mathews was the successful applicant for a position which was originally called the senior assistant. It had been felt that because she was the deputy or assistant to both the headmaster and the principal, it was inappropriate for her to be called a deputy principal. Adele expressed dissatisfaction with her title as senior assistant, because it was open to interpretation as a clerical administrative position, and people outside the school had difficulties understanding her role in the school. Consequently, when Paul and Richard became co-principals, Adele became the deputy principal.  In 1984, the group became aware of a vacant property which had been the Anglican Boy's Home. Negotiations with the Anglican church followed for the purchase of the property - a 9.5 acre/40,000m  2  block with a small cluster of twenty year old buildings. They were set beside  playing fields owned by the Brisbane City Council, on the flood plain of a local water course. A loan from the Brisbane Anglican Diocese was negotiated for the purchase of the property, on what Bob Clancy described as a commercial contract on favourable conditions.  The group approached the Anglican Church because they thought that association with the church would assist their quest to establish a school. Negotiations with the Anglican church were, however, difficult. As Richard Simpson revealed:  ...it was a very political kind of process. We had to firstly come against the Anglican church to support us, that was much harder than we thought it would be...when w approached the Anglican church, we thought they would welcome us with open arms, b in fact there was a lot of suspicion. Especially among the clergy. You see the Anglican church's governing body is the Diocesesan Council. It's a fairly large group and I think it can be a bit unwieldy. Certainly there was a few there, [who thought] that Anglican private schools are elitist and catering for the very top stratum of the socio-economic range, and that they preserve inequities in Australian society...there was a lot of ill feeling...So we lobbied..we worked pretty hard on that and got some rebuffs...but ultimately gained support. A2.87  83  The support of the Anglican church was only the first step. For a new non-government school to receive funding from the Commonwealth government, a rigorous process as to viability of the prospective school, must be satisfied . A detailed rationale must be submitted, at that time to the 1  body called the Commonwealth Schools Commission (which was abolished in 1988 and replaced by the  Schools Council). The States'  Grants  (Schools  Assistance)  Amendment  Act  (1985),  stipulated that 'new' schools submit a proposal estabhshing the possible impact of their school on existing schools in the geographic area.  It was difficult for the founders of Thornton to prove that their proposed school would not affect community support for established schools, because the area was assessed to be a 'non-growth area' and already well-serviced by both state and non-government schools. The founders originally envisaged the school as having both primary and secondary levels, but the Commonwealth refused accreditation of a primary component because the area's population was not growing. The school's submission to the Commonwealth Government supported their establishment as a regional secondary school, on the basis of drawing students from growth areas outside the immediate feeder area, via the existing transportation links (a major rail/bus interchange) with more removed but rapidly developing suburbs.  The school was granted level 10 status on the Education Resource Indicator in 1986, which provided a recurrent grant of $1,258 per pupil {Thornton  Evaluation  Report , 1  1992, p.93). This  was originally on the basis of an enrolment 410 students, but in 1989 the school succeeded in gaining Commonwealth approval and funding for an increase to 524 students. As noted in a School Council report in the school magazine in 1993, the school "received significant funding so  84 that fees paid constitute two-fifths of the total cost of educating each student" (Reflections 7, 1993, p.8).  The founding group possessed or developed acute lobbying skills, becoming strong advocates for their own cause, and convincing other influential players of the merits of their case. They enlisted the support of the then Archbishop of Brisbane and a member of the Anglican Schools' Commission, who were clearly instrumental in paving the way for the group's eventual success. The Archbishop's letter of support for the school concluded with the commendation that "I am impressed by the quality and value of the people who are putting the project together and I hope their ambition to make a significant contribution to the education patterns in this country can be fulfilled" {Thornton Evaluation Report, 1992, p. 144).  Negotiations with the Anglican Church, the Schools' Commission and the Catholic Education Commission (who had expressed initial concern that Thornton might take students from their proximate schools), were only part of the establishment process. The founders also embarked upon a community campaign to convince prospective parents to enrol their children at their new school:  ...we organised public meetings at a number ofplaces in those growth areas that we wer targeting, on a Sunday morning. And went out there and we got write-ups in the local newspapers about our new school - a proposed new school was a good story. We got front page stories and went out there on Sunday mornings and hoped that people woul turn up...And they did Richard A2.553 The first public meeting was held in June 1985, at a local Anglican church. A steering committee was formed and two more public meetings Were held to develop and gauge interest for the school in the region.  85 On 31 May 1986, some two years after beginning negotiations for the school, the Anglican Primate of Australia, Archbishop John Grindrod, K B E and Lady Grindrod, symbolically established the school, with the planting of a fig tree on the grounds of the property. The school took its first students in January 1987, with 90 Year 8s enrolling at the school, drawn from over forty primary schools throughout the greater Brisbane area (Reflections 6, 1992, p.4). The school began with a staff of four full-time and five part-time teachers. Thornton College became a full secondary school in 1991, with the first Year 12s graduating at the end of that year.  2. A walk through the school The first thing I noted in my field notes about Thornton was the pleasing aesthetic effect of the school architecture and grounds (Field notes, 16.2.95). The entrance area to the school has a well-kept garden of Australian natives, and ample shaded seating along the school frontage. The low brick fence at the front of the school and the profusion of greenery combine to create an open and inviting facade. The school name is displayed on a large piece of hewn timber set up on posts, and is a surprising contrast to the traditional brass plaque greeting the visitor to many other independent schools in Brisbane.  The main administration building faces the street and is framed by a landscaped garden featuring several magnificent Jacaranda trees. The building is dark brown brick in Queensland Federation style with dark green and cream trim. I thought it must have been one of the original buildings of the old orphanage but I later discovered that it was in fact a relatively recent addition to the school, designed to meld in with the existing buildings.  86 The housing surrounding Thornton is not particularly affluent and is fairly untypical of Brisbane's suburban housing. There is a prevalence of small red brick cottages of similar construction, in varying states of maintenance, which may have been constructed as Army homes at some point after World War Two. The Australian Army has a strong presence in the area because of the local location of a large army barracks, although few army children attend Thornton.  Neighbours to the east of the school, include a day-care centre, a parochial Catholic primary school and one campus of a Catholic coeducational secondary school. To the west of the school is a Scout Hall which backs on to a Memorial Park, a large area incorporating playingfields,which spill across a creek, and are owned and maintained by the Brisbane City Council.  The design of the school and the process to develop the design, have attempted to reflect the philosophy of the school's founders. The priority of the building program was in the classroom and curriculum facilities, and as such, the administration building, which has become the hub of the school, was one of the last buildings erected. The administrators' report in the school magazine for 1992 describes the desired effect of that building: We believe that this building and the accompanying landscape are welcoming and warm: a genuine combination of dignity and informality where people can meet, and student displays can capture something of the spirit of the school for visitors. (Reflections 6, 1992, p.5) It successfully lives up to those expectations. The foyer of the building is cross-like in design, with a thoroughfare feeding through from the entrance to the rest of the school. The administrators' offices are situated off one arm, and staff and meeting rooms open off* the opposite arm. It is an open and airy area with a floor of terracotta tiles and walls painted in a light, fresh green. It features high ceilings and two stained glass windows at the apex.  87 On the occasion of my first visit to the school, photographs of students engaged in a range of outdoor activities, including abseiling, rockclimbing and canoeing, were prominently displayed in the foyer. A large painting by a Canadian First Nations artist dominates one wall, a gift from Richard and Rosemary Simpson on their return from sabbatical in 1992.  A life-size sculpture of  four people extending their arms to the sky is positioned centrally, and pedestrian traffic dances around the piece. It bears a plaque with the title "Reaching for success" and is the work of a sculptor by the name of Richard Meredith who was sculptor-in-residence in the school in 1990. There is also artwork by a number of students in the foyer. The Year 12s of 1993 chose a unique parting gift to the school, in a large silver sword which is mounted in the foyer with a plaque, which reads - "We leave our mark. The Excalibur sword - a symbol of integrity, justice, equality."  The main staff room is large and opens on to a small courtyard at the back. Staff each have a desk in small preparation rooms scattered throughout the school, so the staff common room has been established as a 'work-free' space. It is an area for socialising, eating, relaxing, and occasional meetings. There are two large refrigerators, a microwave, sinks, and two hot water urns along the western wall. Six large wooden tables are arranged in the room. Several French doors open out on to the courtyard at the rear of the staff room. It is a small, walled space furnished with green plastic chairs and several tables. It is only partially covered, and market umbrellas provide additional shelter. The few smokers on staff use this area.  A large staff noticeboard lines one wall of the common room, and it is here that much interaction between staff takes place. Supervisions are posted here, so all teaching staff check the board at the beginning of the day to see if they have a supervision for any period that day. I monitored the  88 staff noticeboard weekly during myfieldworkand found it a valuable source for insights into the school's operation. At right angles to the noticeboard is a wall of staff pigeonholes. A phone for staff use is squeezed into a corner cubicle between the staff noticeboard and pigeonholes. There is also a photocopy machine in this corner, although most multiple copying is done in a small support centre elsewhere in the school.  The overall visual impact of the school is that it is low-level, although there are a number of twostorey buildings on the campus. This was a conscious design effect, as it was noted in the school evaluation that "the natural slope of the land has been utilised to give the school visual effect of a single storey complex" (Thornton Evaluation Report, 1992, p.87). Most buildings are linked by covered walkways, useful to facilitate continued movement on those days when sudden torrential downpours hit Brisbane. There are a few areas around the school which are in urgent need of landscaping, as students have forged temporary thoroughfares over eroding slopes because they are the shortest distance between some buildings.  In observing teachers in classrooms, I was somewhat surprised by the scarcity of adornment in many classrooms. There were few displays of student work or posters in classrooms. I wondered whether this was a result of having most teachers move from room to room, lesson after lesson, rather than having each teacher in a home room for most of his or her teaching day.  Classrooms, chairs and desks were largely graffiti free. I was in the school for the first term of the school year, and I thought it was possible that the scarcity df graffiti was the result of earnest cleaning over the school vacation. A teacher, however, shared the observation that there was little  89 graffiti in the school, and when she noted the appearance of a four-letter word on a desk she said it was an aberration and a very rare sight in the school (Field notes, 3.4.95). Thornton, however, has not been immune from graffiti as successive action sheets from teachers' meetings indicate that it has been a concern. Teachers are urged to remove graffiti immediately and use the perpetrators to do the cleaning (Teachers' meeting action sheet, 13.9.93). I also thought that the school grounds were relatively litter free, although a frequent topic of conversation in the staff common room was the ongoing problem with rubbish around the school. The school evaluation also indicated that tidiness and rubbish had been a problem identified by some people interviewed  (Thornton Evaluation Report, 1992, p. 85).  Bells are not used at Thornton, so the immediate sound scape is dominated by very loud crows and other birds, rather than the periodic electronic prod. But the sounds of bells from neighbouring schools can be heard, as can the arrival of trains as they slow to a stop at the local station. Also absent was the invasion of the classroom by a public address system (Bennett & LeCompte, 1990, p.135; Grant, 1988, p.140; Jackson, 1968/1990, p.16); what Sizer (1985) calls the "most malevolent intruder into the thinking taking place in public school classrooms" (1985, p. 173).  The impact of the physical environment of a school on its culture cannot be underplayed or forgotten. In numerous studies of schools during the past twenty years, researchers have been most critical of the built environment of schools, particularly in the United States. Of the sample of American schools in his study, Goodlad (1984) observes that "only a few of the schools were architecturally pleasing - and then usually more by contrast with the ugliness of others than by  90 virtue of their own merits" (p.240). He asks the question - "Why should the workplace of teachers, children and youth be so sterile, and why do those in this workplace do so little about its aesthetic qualities?" (p.227). Sizer (1985; p.25) writes of schools in his study which were "predictable, airplane-hangar-modern, set among lawns and asphalt parking lots". Perrone (1985, p.646) notes that it appears that little "care was taken to create attractively aesthetic settings or to display curriculum imaginatively" in the schools he studied.  Thornton is not such a school. It has been deliberately designed with clear aesthetic and utilitarian goals and with a recognition of the importance of the built environment, as the following comment from the school evaluation indicates: In a school where staff, parents and students have all had meaningful input into its development, the organisational and built environment are not merely a backdrop for the school's activities; they are in a very real sense, an expression of the priorities, attitudes and beliefs of the school community (Thornton Evaluation Report, 1992, p.74). Testimony to the effectiveness of the physical environment of the school are the many comments from staff which identify the grounds and buildings as positive attributes of the school: It is a nice physical environment. It has pleasant surroundings. Alison S2.71 It is a pleasant atmosphere, a nice feel about it. The gardens are beautiful...but the concept of the actual design of the school is really nice, with the federation buildings and the gardens. They've all been designed to attract a lot of birds. Megan S3.70 When I first came to my interview, I was just really blown out by the grounds. I think more than any thing. From the main road, it's a pretty attractive and welcoming sight think...It was just really welcoming and it was green and it looked as though it would be a nice place. Max T 16.36 I love the campus - I really enjoy working in this environment...The buildings and grounds are pleasant to the eye. Harry TI 9.599  As a visitor to Thornton, I too found the physical environment to be friendly and inviting. The  91 carefully considered balance of buildings and 'natural' landscape work well to 'deinstitutionalise' the environment. I was always aware that this was a school because of the students and teachers milling around the grounds, but I was not overwhelmed by the functionalism of the campus.  3. Profile of Thornton's teachers There were 45 teachers teaching at Thornton in the first semester of 1995, not including the three members of the senior administration team. O f these, 16 (36%) were men and 29 (64%) were women. Some 17 (38%) of the teaching staff were part-timers, one of whom was male. With such a large proportion of teachers working on a part-time basis, the interests and needs of part-timers are a significant issue in the school. A profile of the teaching staff at Thornton is represented in Table 1.  Table 1: Profile of Thornton teaching staff, 1995 Senior Admin  Subject Coordinator *  Teacher  Part-time  Full-time  Total Teaching Staff - Gender (inc.Snr Admin)  Females  1  12  17  16  14  30  Males  2  13  3  1  17  18  TOTAL  3  25  20  17  31  48  * Subject coordinators have responsibility for a subject or subjects and I have included the positions called Student Advisor and Special Needs Advisor in this category as well.  The gender profile of the teaching staff has been the source of some comment on staff, and a number of male teachers made comments in their interviews pointing to what they saw as a  92 gender imbalance on staff favouring female representation: We have to get more good male staff, and that is starting to happen. Bob T 11.487 I feel that there is a distinct lack of young male staff on the staff...you 're limiting role models for students. Max T16.123 I think the people - I think first of all, it is predominantly a female staff. I was a bit surprised at that, but I have to say I think that is part of the dedication of the staff. Monte T26.172 There are certainly fewer male teachers on staff than women, but the distribution of positions of administrative or added responsibility indicates that any imbalance which may exist, is to this point, favouring men. The two positions of principal are held by men, with a woman in the position of deputy principal. Subject co-ordinator positions were held by 25 members of the teaching staff - over half of the teachers, but the 36% of teachers who are men, held 52% (13) of these positions.  A gender breakdown of the teaching force in Australia shows that women make up 65% of the 202 400 teachers recorded in the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) figures (ABS, 1996, p.9). In Queensland non-government schools, almost 61% of teachers were female. These data do not, however, provide a gender breakdown that distinguishes between primary and secondary schools. Historically women have dominated primary teaching in Australia, whereas there has been more of a gender balance in the secondary. This representation of women in teaching is not maintained in the number of men and women holding positions of educational administration or management. In Queensland, women continue to be under-represented in such positions, compared to their representation in the total teaching force, and at one stage this decade their numbers in senior educational positions in schools were actually in decline (Limerick, 1991). The fact that men are over-represented in positions of management at Thornton, is, in light of the  93 greater context in Australia, perhaps unsurprising. What is surprising is that such an imbalance exists in a school which represents itself as avoiding traditional hierarchies, including gender hierarchies. This point will be further developed in chapter 5.1 and chapter 8.  In terms of an age profile of the teaching staff at Thornton, I have no accurate data because I did not ask teachers their age. Based on a superficial assessment of age, over 80% of Thornton's teachers were between 30 and 50. There were only three people whom I judged to be under 30.1 judged approximately 20 people to be between 30 and 40, and 18 people to be between 40 and 50. Less than 10 of the teaching staff would have been over 50 years of age. This rough profile of Thornton's teachers indicates that they are clustered in the middle years of their working lives, with comparatively few very young teachers. This relatively aging teacher profile may have some bearing on the question of teachers' perception of autonomy, as will be discussed in chapter 4.  Thornton was the first and only school for eight teachers on staff. Two of those teachers were founding staff who had been recruited by Richard and Paul as first year teachers in the first year of the school's existence. A sizable proportion of the teaching staff (18) had come to Thornton with no other teaching experience in a non-government school. There were, however, nine teachers who had come to Thornton with only teaching experience in the non-government sector. A further seven teachers had teaching experience in both state and non-government secondary schools.  There has been a very low turnover of staff at the school in its first decade. Staff rarely move on once they accept a position at Thornton. Staff numbers have increased steadily over the past 10  94 years as the school has grown. Of the 45 teaching staff, 35 (78%) have been at the school for three or more years, and 30 (67%) have been at the school five or more years. In the profile of Australian teachers commissioned by the Australian College of Education in 1989, Logan et al (1990) found that "teachers who had served at their current school for less than five years accounted for 60% of the responses, with government schools recording higher staff turnover (62.7%) than either of the other two employing authorities (54.58%, 55.72%)" (p.12). Teaching staff who had been at Thornton less than five years only accounted for 29% of the total teaching staff, clear evidence of a very low staff turnover in the school. The question of staff stability is somewhat vexed, however, as there is some evidence to sustain the view that too much stability may result in complacency and stagnancy on a staff (Logan et al, 1990, p. 15).  It is interesting to note a distinct networking pattern in the recruitment of teachers at Thornton. A significant number of teachers were recruited to the school from three particular schools in Brisbane. Perhaps unsurprisingly, there are eight teachers, including the three founders, who had previous teaching experience at the same independent Anglican boys' school. Recruitment by the founders of teachers from this school could be anticipated because they had some first-hand knowledge of teachers from that school. A second smaller group of three teaching staff had experience at an independent Anglican girls' school, a 'sister' school to the boys' school, and therefore again, a not unanticipated connection to Thornton and its Anglican network.  Most  interesting, was a grouping of staff drawn from a government secondary school in Brisbane's northern suburbs. Some six teachers at Thornton had previous teaching experience at this school. The influence of the first teacher from this school to take up an offer of a position at Thornton, drew other teachers to apply for positions at Thornton as the school grew. His favourable  95 commendation of them to the co-principals undoubtedly played some part in their successful applications.  A number of the teaching staff came to teaching after successful careers in areas other than education. One teacher had been a plumber, one a publicity officer for a large charity, one a builder and manager. Logan et al (1990) report that almost half of the teaching force in Australia (45.6%) had experience working in occupations other than teaching, the most common occupational area being in professional and technical work. This goes some way to dispelling the frequently aired public conception that teachers know no working world but 'cloistered' educational institutions.  The study by Logan et al (1990) included an examination of teacher involvement in professional development, including award courses. They found that teachers in non-Catholic non-government schools had a higher percentage of honours and masters degrees than their Catholic  school  counterparts. I was quite struck when first browsing through Thornton school magazines, at the scarcity of postgraduate qualifications among the teaching staff - particularly at a masters level. In the school magazine for 1994, two teachers are shown as possessing master degrees in education. One teacher has a doctorate in nuclear physics, and the two clergymen on staff have Master of Arts degrees. No member of the senior administration team has a higher degree in education (although in the year after my fieldwork, Richard Simpson had enrolled in a masters degree in education). In keeping with the school's emphasis on outdoor education (which will be discussed in section 6(v) of this chapter), four teachers have graduate diplomas in outdoor education.  96 There is a cluster of possible explanations for what appears to be the low representation of staff with postgraduate qualifications. One is that decisions have been made at the selection stage about the preferred qualifications of applicants. Richard Simpson indicated that they did not place a high emphasis on the possession of formal qualifications in the selection process:  It's very rare that someone with a Masters degree - that we would rate that higher th someone with a Bachelors degree, above all we 're looking for personal qualities tha people will bring with their teaching expertise. A2.601 Another possible explanation is that as a new school, Thornton has demanded of teachers a commitment in time and energy that has not allowed the pursuit of further formal studies, and that now the school has reached a certain maturity, staff are finding the time for formal study.  In light of the energetic promotion of professional development in the school (to be discussed in chapter 4.2(vii)), it is also conceivable that teachers are sufficiently stimulated by what occurs and is offered within the school environment, that they find no need for the external intellectual stimulation which may be offered through postgraduate studies. Monte had enrolled in a Masters of Educational Studies whilst teaching at his previous school:  I was in a school where I was going no where. I felt I needed some stimulation, and that was one way of getting some stimulation ... There was a needfor me to go and find out more about education, because I wasn 7 getting that at (my school). T26.240 After some months at Thornton, he felt that the school offered him enough stimulation and that perhaps he would not have pursued such studies had he been at Thornton:  Coming here, for the first year or two, I probably wpuldn't have found a need for that, because there is a lot of stimulation here... So there are things here that would ha given me a taste, I suppose of what a masters course could offer - but within a schoo structure. T26.275  97 It is also conceivable that the belief held by some teachers that postgraduate qualifications in education are largely irrelevant and of little benefit to their practice (Davies & Seagren, 1992; Johnson, 1990a, p.262; Wolcott, 1973, p.202), is shared by teachers at Thornton. The sizable female part-time teaching force at Thornton; may also have an impact on the number of teachers pursuing further formal studies. It is possible that part-time women teachers are constrained by partners who are operating on the basis that the principal and full-time 'breadwinner' in the home is the male, and that any financial commitment to university studies should be provided to him, not the female partner who is working part-time.  A further explanation may be found in the age profile of the teaching staff at Thornton. In a study of classroom teachers and principals in a large northeastern American state, Monahan (1993) found that about a third of his respondents "did not begin to give serious consideration to their \  own professional development until three years after their first teaching assignment" (p. 8). As I suggested earlier in this section, Thornton's teaching staff is generally well beyond the first three years of their teaching experience, and the greater proportion of them are in the middle years of their working lives.  The relatively low number of teachers at Thornton with post-graduate qualifications appears to be going to change in the next five years. Three teachers had completed Masters in Educational Studies in 1995, and several teachers were enrolled in masters courses or inservice bachelor degrees in education. There was a real keenness among some of Thornton's teachers to pursue further academic qualifications as indicated in the following comments:  Like this year I started my Masters as well..I'm getting really excited about it...I went a conference in September last year...and it was really interesting and it was the sort of  98  things that I really wanted to get into with my teaching...and at that conference they to us about the Masters programme... And I thought, yeah, I'll apply for it. Rebecca T25.89  I also started my Masters in Education this year...I felt I needed some stimulation, and that was one way of getting some stimulation...The other thing is that having a Master in Education is going to be necessary for you to remain in the teaching profession really. Monte T26.235  ...a lot had happened in (subject) education in the last five years and I just felt very old and rusty and I needed some sense of concentratedtimejust looking at what's happened in (subject) education - and I thought if I'm going to spend this time, I might as well do i for something that's going to give me a bit of paper or whatever, and so that's why I did it. Louisa T41.447 The more recent interest in postgraduate qualifications may reflect a broader interest and demand in the education community for postgraduate qualifications. This could be interpreted as a response to both the rapidly developing ethos of credentialism in teaching, and the more aggressive marketing drive by Queensland universities to 'sell' their postgraduate offerings.  There were three teachers who indicated that they were involved in professional subject associations, one of whom was heavily involved through his position as president of a subject association. There may have been more teachers who belonged to various subject associations, but they were not actively involved in their activities or professional development. The 1989 study of Australian teachers found that 37.8% of teachers belonged to a subject association, with a higher membership rate of45.37% of teachers in non-Catholic non-government schools (Logan et al, 1989, p.39). This is not surprising, as teachers in the non-government sector can easily feel isolated from educational trends. The Department of Education tends to dictate approaches which are adopted by all schools, yet the professional development opportunities to keep abreast of educational changes are often not made available across sectors by the Department (see Appendix A for an outline of the Queensland educational context). Teachers in independent schools such as  99 Thornton, must establish their own networks and seek inservice to keep up-to-date with educational developments, and membership of subject associations is one way of achieving this.  The three members of the senior administration team and two of the teaching staff are members of the Australian College of Education (ACE). This national body was founded in 1959 as a professional association of people from all fields of education, with the goal of fostering educational thought and practice and promoting "the ethics of high professional responsibility" (ACE, 1982, p.2). Most administrators in the non-government sector belong to this association, but it does not appear to have attracted broad-based interest from classroom teachers.  A number of Thornton's teachers are involved in what are called, subject district and state panels and subcommittees under the auspices of the Board of Senior Secondary School Studies (BSSSS) (see Appendix A for an explanation of the BSSSS's role in Queensland). This involvement was seen as paramount by Thornton administrators and teachers, because it gave the school some input into policy decisions which have a major impact on the school's operation. The networking opportunities offered by this involvement were also important to Thornton teachers. Several teachers recognised that in meeting with teachers from other schools on panels, they can compare their work, in the form of assessment items and work programs, with that of their peers. This facet of teachers' work will be discussed further in chapter 6.1.  Logan et al (1990) found that the most common professional organisation membership for Australian teachers was of their relevant teachers' union. They report that 60% of Australian teachers were members of teachers' unions in 1989 (p.39). This picture was coloured by the  100 higher representation of teachers in the government education sectors (72.65%) than those teachers in Catholic schools (47.76%) or other non-government schools (40.94%). The relevant union for Thornton teachers is the Queensland Association of Teachers in Independent Schools (QATIS) (see chapter 6.2 for a discussion of the influence of the union on individual teacher autonomy). One of the union representatives at Thornton reported 37% of the teaching staff were members of the union by early in 1995. She felt that the numbers would increase to approximately 50% by the time the final deadline for membership in March passed.  4. Thornton - A teachers' school Thornton is not a school which grew from community or parental demands, nor was it established out of an initiative by a church bureaucracy. It is a school which grew initially from an educational vision shared by a small group of teachers. As the Thornton Information Booklet says, it is a school that was "founded and guided by teachers". This in itself makes Thornton unique. It is a teachers' school. This is declared with some pride in the background to the school offered in the  Staff Handbook: In most cases independent schools are governed by people who do not necessarily have much involvement with education, so this idea was quite novel and constitutes a major feature of the School. The teachers were attracted by the community school model and decided to use it as a structural guide in the establishment and management of the School.  (Staff Handbook, p.4)  As teachers, the founders devised an organisational  structure for their  school which  acknowledged the credibility of teachers and set out to give them a formal voice in the running of the school, beyond their classrooms, the curriculum and day-to-day issues. As noted in the Thornton Evaluation Report conducted in 1992, "it was agreed by the founders that direction, control and guidance of the school be vested in teachers with cooperation from the community  101 which the school served" (1992, p. 76). Thus, the major governing body of the school, the School Council, was established in August 1986 with four positions for teacher representatives, to be elected by the staff (the School Council is discussed in greater detail in chapter 4.3(v)).  In a conscious move away from the progressive perspective of totally child-centred education, Thornton was founded with the adult participants in mind as well as the students. Richard Simpson relates an allusion used by Roland Barth (1990) to exemplify this point:  ...I think that the adults in a school are very important. It's not to say that the students aren't critical, but the students will come through and move on, but the teachers, most o them will stay. It's as much their community as it is the students' community. Rolan Barth said something that struck home with me...He likens teachers in a school to t ...flight attendants before the plane takes off - giving you your instructions about wha happens if our oxygen level goes down. And they always say - if you have children, put the mask on yourselffirst, then look after the child I think that's not a bad parallel. You just can't focus on the kids. A2.575  As a 'teachers' school', a special flavour permeates the school culture. It is almost impossible to capture in words, but it can be seen in some tangible representations such as the school magazine, which is called Reflections. One of the first things which struck me about a number of the school magazines was the prominent positioning of the staff photograph on the first couple of pages. Whereas the staff photograph in other schools' magazines can generally be found somewhere between the pages and pages of sporting teams, or not at all, since its inception Thornton's Reflections has had the staff photograph on its first pages. This is a visible manifestation of the acknowledgement of the importance of teachers in school life.  I found another subtle reflection of the focus on teachers well after my fieldwork had ended. Towards the end of the school year, two teaching positions at Thornton for the 1996 school year  102 were advertised in the paper. Advertisements for teaching positions in Australia normally outline the teaching areas required and details of the position, but no information about the incumbent is given. It is usually only after many years of service at a very senior level in an independent school, that a teacher may be acknowledged in a position advertisement with a statement like - "After thirty years of faithful service, Miss Brown is retiring from her position as Headmistress of this school." The advertisement from Thornton was striking because in the case of both positions, the person leaving was named and thus acknowledged individually. Such a public acknowledgement indicates the focus on the individual at the school - particularly the individual teacher, and the preparedness of the school administration to flag their commitment to teachers openly.  Thornton is also a school which projects teaching as a valued, if not the most valued, activity in the school. It may appear to be verging on a truism to state that teaching and learning are valued at an institution such as a school, but the normative practices of many schools lead me to conclude that a focus on teaching as the 'core business' of a school is not an unchallenged premise. In some schools the objects of value among staff are promoted positions or student success in sporting competitions or student success in externally validated examinations. For teaching to be valued as the central and unifying community purpose, a sustained philosophical commitment is vital. Little (1987) calls this sort of commitment to teaching a "public enterprise" and uses it as a criteria for a healthy, effective school (p.501).  There were numerous indicators of teaching being valued at Thornton. Monte spoke of his change of status from a position of added responsibility at another independent school to a position as a classroom teacher at Thornton:  103  / had a position of added responsibility at the other school, and now here I see myself as a classroom teacher apart from the committees that I have volunteered to be on. But eve as a classroom teacher I am respected as a member of staff...and I think that is important. Because in systems that promote ranks in the school, people at the bottom c feel inadequate and feel like they're just one of the workers, and just a cog in a big industry. Whereas no matter what position you play here, you feel like you have contributed to the growth of the school. T26.63 A further reflection of the commitment to teaching can be seen in the fact that all members of the senior leadership team maintain a teaching load despite the burden of their additional responsibilities. By continuing with classroom teaching, administration team members are positively enacting their desire to maintain a connection with the 'core business' of the school. This can also be interpreted as a tangible sign to teachers, that the administrators have not rejected the work of teachers because they find it unsatisfying or tedious.  Perhaps the most telling indictment of Thornton as a teachers' school was the number of teachers who expressed the sentiment that Thornton was a great place to be a teacher, and that despite occasional difficult moments at the school, they would not be leaving Thornton in the foreseeable future:  ...it's a great place to be a teacher... this will be the last place I teach. Samantha T28.45 and 537 I enjoy being at Thornton and I enjoy being a teacher. Amy T12.110 I will probably stay and teach here for a very long time. Julian T 13.282 I have been here for quite some time...and I am happy to stay. Nina T21.537, The day I left here would be the day I wasn 't going to be in teaching any more...I realize that I'm on to a good thing here. Vivian T34.578  I think if I did make a move, it would be out of teaching. I think as long as I'm teaching I think I'll be quite happy to stay here. Unless a school with similar ideals popped u somewhere else, then I'd consider moving. Charles T35.505  104  It's the best place I've ever taught in... I wouldn't go anywhere else. Carley T40.893 ...when I leave, this will be the last school I'll be at, because I'd rather leave at the top. Melissa T7.1457 Such comments are clear messages about teachers' perceptions of Thornton as a school and a workplace. Teachers are happy to teach there and consider themselves privileged to have obtained a position at the school. There is a sense that Thornton is a benchmark for these teachers, against which prior and future teaching experiences will be evaluated.  5. 'The Thornton way' I became aware during informal conversations and during interviews, of something which teachers and other staff members identified as the Thornton way. This phrase was used in a variety of contexts, but at its essence, the Thornton way was the shared philosophy and constructed meanings interpreted and accepted as the commonly understood culture of the school. Such meanings were summarised by Waller (1932) as the "We-feeling" of the school (p. 13). Grant (1988) identifies the "ethos" of a school as the "sharing of attitudes, values, and beliefs that bond disparate individuals into a community" (p. 117). He argues that the school ethos is "the spirit that actuates not just manners, but moral and intellectual attitudes, practices and ideals. In the case of a private school, it is the ideals represented by the parents and founders of the school or of the agency: for example, the church that took the leading role in its founding" (p. 172). As an independent school, Thornton is arguably favourably positioned to achieve such a feeling within the school community. Johnson (1990a) argues that private schools are better able to build a sense of "symbolic glue" among staff. Teachers in such "typically independent, small, stable, and homogenous" schools, are better able to "agree on goals, champion hardy values, celebrate their successes, find direction in their history, and rekindle purpose with traditions. Public schools, by  105 comparison^ are large and heterogenous and embedded in public bureaucracies" (Johnson, 1990a, p.220).  Richard Simpson described the Thornton way by way of calling upon a range of educational theorists, including Michael Fullan, Roland Barth, Karen Seashore Louis and Matthew Miles. From this theoretical base, he pulled the concept of "purposing", which he explained:  Where you don 7 set up a blue print of where you want to be in five years, and how you 're going to get there step by step, but you constantly focus on your values. What are the important things? And you constantly try to have your planning and decision-making and everything you do, coming from that...and so, one of the things about the Thornton way of doing things is that we stop and we pause, and make sure our purposing is working and the we are pulling it together. A2.428 In my initial interview with Paul Browning, he used the phrase, the Thornton way of doing things, many times. In our second discussion he elaborated upon what he meant by that phrase, at first pointing to the school motto - In balance we grow - as an apt summary of the notion, and then by way of emphasizing the importance of a sense of community in the school. Bob Clancy spoke of the Thorntonian way in a brief speech he gave before taking long-service leave for a term. He used the phrase to refer to a cluster of attitudes and behaviour which he felt the school exemplified (Field notes, 24.4.95). Georgia phrased it in the following way:  We all have - we all know what we want to do. Like we know what the school stands for, we know what we 're trying to achieve here. People who have worked here for a long tim just know that, and that's what they 're trying to do. T6.116 Melissa defined the Thornton way as a set of rules, a code of conduct:  The foundations have been pretty well laid The rules - there's no rules, but there are, if you know what I mean. The rule by which we live. It's not so much a religious rule. OK, we 're living by what Ifeel is a religious rule...a code of conduct. T7.808  Absorbing the Thornton way is a complex process of subtle and overt influences and pressures  106 which may be summed up in the anthropological term 'acculturation'. Siegel (1974) described this as the "process of culture change initiated by the continual interaction of individuals from two or more discrete groups and their cultures" involving controlling and subject groups (p.43). In relation to acculturation in schools, Waller (1932) argued that the process was "in part a spontaneous creation in the minds of those who identify themselves with the school and in part a carefully nurtured and sensitive growth" (p. 13). Metz (1978) found in her study of two American junior secondary schools that a faculty culture grew in both schools as "new recruits to the school were socialized into it and continuing members reinforced one another in their adherence to common beliefs" (p. 175).  The coining of a phrase or term to focus on a shared school culture is not an unusual practice in schools, as other schools I know of, have developed similar phrases or terms to explain 'what they are about'. But it is more common in other schools for the focus to be on the sort of student the school seeks to 'produce' at the end offiveyears pf secondary schooling. For example, at a Brisbane boys' school called Villanova College, the boys are encouraged to behave like a 'Villanovan'; just as at a girls' school called Lourdes Hill College, the girls undergo acculturation over five years in the hope that they will become 'Lourdanians'. The difference at Thornton, is that the Thornton way applies not only to students, but also to teachers. Thus, not only do students take on the particularities of this way, but teachers also undergo a process of acculturation to the school culture and philosophy.  Perhaps due to the youthfulness of the school, and an awareness that there is little tradition or history to rely on, a more conscious approach to socialisation or acculturation has been adopted  107 at Thornton. The administration team believes that the modelling of certain behaviours and approaches is central to the process of acculturation for teaching staff, particularly in venues such as teacher meetings. Richard noted that: It means modelling an ongoing commitment to learning and doing it in an environment of support. Kind of challenge and support. A2.241 Adele Mathews commented on the role of modelling in developing a caring culture in the school:  I think that when the schoolfirststarted there was probably a tremendous...amount o modelling and then that was the core. I think that they all really had to support and help one another through. And then it has just grown. Al. 634 Beyond the modelling by senior administration is the teachers' more formal participation in collegial groups (small groups of teachers which will be discussed in more detail in chapter 4.3(iii)), committees (see chapter 4.3(iv)), and subject meetings. All of which build to create the "norms of collegiality" that Little (1982) documents in her study of effective schools (see also Fullan, 1992). The involvement of teachers in formal collegial interaction is complemented by iirformal interchanges in the staff common room and teacher preparation rooms, and much of this interaction serves to reinforce the dominant view of the Thornton way of doing things.  So, what messages about the Thornton way do the teaching staff 'pick up'? Many are so familiar with the school's mission statement and school motto, that they recited some part of these in their responses. Other teachers mentioned a range of values. Samantha identified compassion ...fairness...and educational zeal as the qualities valued highly at Thornton (T28.446). She described educational zeal in terms of a school commitment to teacher professional development. Bob focused on the teaching approach of the Thornton way, in his assertion that the school's philosophy was that teaching and learning should be open ended question centred and discovery based (TI 1.65). To one new teacher the Thornton way was the way he was expected to interact  108 with students and the particular approach to classroom management he felt he was expected to adopt. Adele Mathews had met with the new teachers the week before our interview and she tells of one teacher's early experience in the school:  ...when he came to the school he thought that he raised his voice in class, and then he thought - oh, I don't think I'm supposed to do that here, because everything seems s casual and laid back. I've never heard anyone raise their voice. Like he picked it up immediately. A 1.456 During my observations in the school, a number of precepts emerged as fundamental elements of the Thornton way - caring, community, collegiality df team work, individuality and choice.  That a school aims to be 'caring' is somewhat of a cliche but it is a quality which is held up universally by educators as a worthy goal. Noddings (1992) espouses an entire approach to education organised around "centers of care", which includes a reorganisation of the curriculum and teaching methods in schools. She builds on the notion of an "ethic of care" initially arising from Gilligan's (1982) hypothesis of the existence of a morality based on the recognition of needs, relation and response rather than moral reasoning (see also Larrabee, 1993; Grumet, 1988). Caring for students is a constant in teachers' conceptions of the elements that contribute to an effective learning environment and satisfying job (Hargreaves, 1994, p. 145; Lortie, 1975, p. 109). Cohn and Kottkamp (1993) found that "teachers seem intuitively to recognize that a caring relationship, as Noddings defined it, is a core element of a meaningful teaching-learning process" (p.228). That caring should extend beyond the bounds of the teacher-student relationship to encompass all members of the school community is perhaps too easily lost in the routines and busyness of schools.  109 A strong ethos of caring permeates the school culture at Thornton. It is a caring which encompasses both teachers and students, so that the emphasis in the school is on developing a 'caring culture' rather than individualistic concern for the students for whom one is responsible. This commitment is explicitly acknowledged as an element of the school's philosophy in the Staff Handbook: In a community people care about each other and try to translate this into action. Since the school began, staff have attempted to model this attitude in their relationships with each other and with their students: care is a natural part of everything we do. (Staff Handbook, p. 18) Although caring is an attribute which has been most commonly identified as a female virtue, particularly evident in female primary school teachers (Hargreaves, 1994, p. 145), it is exhibited and explicitly valued by both men and women at Thornton (see Nias, 1989, p.41, for a similar finding). It must be acknowledged, however, that the high proportion of female teachers is more likely to have actively promoted a caring ethos in the school, than resisted it.  A number of women and men teachers emphasised the expansiveness of the school's caring ethos in their descriptions of the school culture, including the following:  / think that for me, the caring thing, it would have to be the most caring place. And I've been in a few schools. This would have to be the most genuinely caring place... that I hav ever been in. Adele A 1.625 ...we 're a caring schoolfirst, foremost. (101) People around you, being there, supporting you, knowing what you 're going through without you saying it. Again it's an unspoken things, but you know it's there. Tess Tl. 774  I don't think I've ever been in a more caring staff ...you know - the excitement just befo when we found out that three of the teachers are pregnant...just shows how everyone was really excitedfor them. Chris Tl 5.320 I observed an instance of 'caring' on my first day in the school. A teacher's child became seriously ill and required immediate hospitalisation. There was overwhelming support for the teacher in the  110 common room at lunch time on that day (and on following days) and several people volunteered to take her classes for the afternoon. I detected no reluctance or resentment from other teachers because they had to take on extra duties for the afternoon. Max commented on this incident some days later: ...ifpeople have to leave in an emergency like happened the other day, then teachers just jump in and say - I'll take this, I'll do this, I'll go with you, etc. T16.144  The teacher involved in this incident greatly appreciated the response from her colleagues: I had a month ago, on a Tuesday morning - my doctor rang me to say that my son needed to be taken to hospital. I had classes, but within five minutes I had people taking over my classes, I had someone to drive me to the doctor, I just felt totally supported And you don't get that everywhere you work... this is really good  There were other small but significant examples of a caring, supportive ethos - the celebration of staff birthdays with a cake; the celebration of teachers finishing degrees; the unsolicited exchange of 'warm fuzzies' when life gets difficult; the comfortable greeting of each other first thing in the morning; and the positive way in which students were greeted when they came to the door of the staff common room.  A very public manifestation of the caring and supportive ethos was the appearance on the staff noticeboard of notes thanking people for various things. The following selection of notes appeared on the noticeboard during my fieldwork: Thank you for your contributions to a successful Interview Day on Saturday. We greatly appreciate all your efforts. (Fieldnotes, 14.3.95) 95 Drama Camp This camp was hugely successful! ...Thanks to Max, Hugh, Amy and Fran (who organised the whole thing) and thanks to Tom and Lorraine who visited us and lent their support. A top weekend. Frank. (Field notes, 27.3.95) Thank you for your help both in organising students and in signing for areas....  Ul P.S. Thank you Jan for completing the mind boggling task of transcribing on to master lists. Egads what a job! (Field notes, 3.4.95) Public 'thank yous' were also forthcoming in teachers' meetings. In my field notes from the first teachers' meeting I attended, I wrote that: Richard congratulated and thanked Harry for his work. Harry thanked Hazel for her contribution to the project. It is interesting to hear affirmation of staff work in a public setting. There is also ready acknowledgement by staff members of other people's contributions. (Field notes, 20.2.95) At a later teachers' meeting, Bronwyn congratulated Maddy for her preparation of folders for the Interview Day. Paula reported on an Outdoor Education conference she had attended and my field notes recorded the following interchange: Paula congratulated Phil and Michelle and the school community on the outdoor education program. She said that she had been proud to represent the school at this conference because the quality of the program was so good and so highly regarded. (Field notes, 13.3.95) The action sheets from teachers' meetings over the past four years are also dotted with 'thank yous' to staff, recorded in bold print.  Such affirmations do not go unnoticed, as a number of teachers commented on how much they valued the efforts made by senior administration and their colleagues to thank them for their contributions:  ...they always thank us, which is nice. A notice will go up on the staff noticeboard if something really big has been accomplished at the school, and they always include the auxiliary staff, it is to all the staff. Megan S3.138  Little things like the administration putting up names on the Noticeboard saying how well, for example, the year 8 Information Evening for parents went... the thank yous u on the Board, the personal thank yous. Karlie T 14.306  Whenever there's a function, without a doubt there will be a notice up on the Noticeboard, usually from Adele, thanking specifically the people who have been involved, even though it's part of their duty to be involved, there's still the thank yo  112  and acknowledgement that you've done something the school appreciates. Sharon T30. That such 'thank yous' are highly prized by staff is no surprise in an occupation which has been acknowledged for its scarcity of extrinsic rewards (Goodlad, 1984, p. 172; Lortie, 1975, p. 130; Sizer, 1985, p. 187; Waller, 1932, p.378).  When I probed to find out how the caring ethos found expression in the school, many people referred to the way teachers interact with students:  / often see teachers taking time to help students with problems outside of the cla room... The way they communicate with them in general when kids come to the door.. communication between teachers and students is of an open kind of friendly nature. Chris T15.308  Look, if a student is in crisis and a teacher is prepared to give a student their home phone number, which a number of them have, I think that's wonderful. Adele A 1.402  The fact that we still have time for our kids. That any single one of us will drop everything to help a kid in trouble. That doesn't happen in other places I don't think TessT1.60 The caring nature of the school also encompassed a level of friendliness among staff that was commented upon by many people:  ...the staff arefriendly.And most people are easy to get along with - easy to work with. It is just a nice atmosphere. Megan S3.3 3  I've been in like, three different schools. Coming to Thornton was a lot easier than starting off in one of those other schools because I found that the staff were just so friendly and encouraging rightfromthe start. Kdrlie T14.181 ...there's that kind of general aura offriendlinessabout everybody which is nice. Barbara T2.615 The second theme which emerged as an integral element of the Thornton way, was the importance of building a sense of community. As the founders drew heavily on the literature about community schooling in framing their philosophy of Thornton, it is no surprise that 'community' is valued so  113 highly. It is one of the "key concepts at Thornton" outlined in the Staff Handbook: For the type of education we envisage to take place, the members of the School must see themselves as a community, and function as one ... the school attempts to function as a small community, fostering a dynamic relationship between itself and the wider community. The community will come into the school, and the school will go out into the  wider community. {Staff Handbook, p. 17)  I asked Richard Simpson to explain what he meant by a community ethos:  Where people know each other and work together to generate a bit of spirit that's - a of synergy, that's bigger than just the sum of the parts. And people know each other Now, that's even hard in a school this size to know...all the kids, but we can get close to it. Certainly caringfor each other, by doing exciting things together as a team, such as the outdoor program...the idea of helping each other, you know team work and co operation, and that it really does generate power. A2.217 Paul Browning also stressed the importance of a sense of community as part of his idea of the  Thornton way:  I suppose the Thornton way of doing things is recognising that we are in a community and there are different sorts of community here. I mean there is the community of th teachers, there is the community of the students, there is the community of the schoo there is the community of the parents beyond, who don't often come to this particula property. But an awareness of this community and a way of improving our human condition in this moment in time and at this moment in space. Through our interactio A3.18  Teacher understandings of the term 'community' generally hinged on the expectation that teachers, students and parents will be supportive and supported. For Paul this sense of community arose out of sharing goals and philosophy:  Sense of community is vital. And sense of community for a staff reflects on the way students see the school too. If they see the staff being community minded and caring about what they're doing, then they take that on board and think this may be wo while...A common goal, a common philosophy, there are other people interested in professional development there to assist you. Pick you up when you 're down, share som traumas with you, that sort of thing. Paul T35.60 Bob saw community in the way people have a role in decision-making in the school:  ...this is a community school. By that I mean that people have a feed-in to the way in  114  which decisions are made as well as to the decisions. Til. 123 For Georgia, being a part of a community rather than merely a school was reflected in a preparedness to go that little bit further, not to limit her role as a student or teacher to what happens in the classroom, but to become involved in camps, drama, music, sports - the whole involvement of students (T6.619). Hugh's comment also picked up on community as an extension of the teacher's involvement beyond the classroom:  ...the school is the school community. It's not just coming into the classroom, teaching the lessons, marking the work, seeing a few students and going home. It's once again every cog that's working, it's being involved with collegial groups, and knowing whe your curriculum is going. T 17.237 In a similar vein, Rebecca told of the day she first came to Thornton for the interview for her position:  I remember walking into the school and... they were all still hanging around school, an it was a quarter to four. I thought, what are these kids still doing here, at [school name deleted], we never see kids after school at all, and here's kids hanging around doing this and that and the other. It blew me away. T25.285  Comments by staff and my own observations attest to a well-developed sense of community at Thornton:  ...there is definitely a community feeling here... I feel like I'm part of the place. Jane S7.159and318 I have a bigger sense of school as being more than just a place where I work...It's community. Barbara T2.358  It is more a community - there is a feeling more of everyone is in it together, rather tha a few running the school, and everyone else bowing and scraping and running around MillyT3.164 According to its teachers, Thornton has succeeded in building a sense of community. This example of success is some answer to Hargreaves' (1994) concern, that "one of the greatest educational crises of the postmodern age is the collapse of the common school; a school tied to its  115 community and having a clear sense of the social and moral values it should instill" (p.58).  The third dimension of the Thornton way is the value placed on building a collegial culture and teamwork, which can be seen as natural extensions of the strong sense of community in the school. Traditionally, schools in the western world have not been founded or organised on the presumption of strong collegial interactions among teachers (cf. see Schwille (1993) for a number of studies dealing with the 'norms' of collegial working conditions in schools in China, Pakistan and Sri Lanka). Rather, as argued by Smyth (1993), the majority of schools and school systems have relied on "directive, prescriptive and oppressive forms of control" (p. 142). Donahoe (1993) argues that the "traditional school organization minimizes collective, collegial behavior on the part of teachers" (p.299). Thornton's emphasis on building a collegial culture reflects a strong push among researchers and practitioners in education for the development of collegial school cultures (Apple, 1986; Hargreaves, 1994; Hughes, 1987). Little (1987) summarises the benefits from such cultures: When schools are organized to promote joint action, the advantages of collegial work groups are varied and substantial. Teachers' work as colleagues promises greater coherence and integration to the daily work of teaching. It equips individuals, groups and institutions for steady improvement. And it helps to organize the schools as an environment for learning to teach, (p. 513) The pressures mitigating against the development of such collegiality among teachers are great, and include the inflexibility of organisation in many schools, the lack of time to develop collegial relationships, and the resistance of teachers to engage in and commit to collegial structures (Cohen, 1976; Little, 1987).  Despite the many factors in schools which coalesce to hinder the development of collegiality,  116 most teachers at Thornton expressed a commitment to collegiality and a belief that it is working at the school. Teachers are expected to be able to function well in team situations. Formal structures such as the network of some 16 committees and the teacher collegial groups, form the backbone to the collegial approach which supports this aspect of the school ethos, and these will be discussed in detail in chapter 4.3. Thornton is a school which if measured against the items used to measure collegiality in the High School and Beyond A T S Study (see Siskin, 1994, p.lOS), would emerge as a strongly collegial school: Five items were selected by that study to contribute to an index of collegiality, which were whether: • • • •  You can count on most staff members to help out anywhere, anytime - even though it may not be part of their official assignment. Teachers in this school are continually learning and seeking new ideas. There is a great deal of cooperative effort among staff members. Staff members maintain high standards.  •  This school seems like a big family; everyone is so close and cordial. (Siskin, 1994, p. 105)  Thornton would rate highly on all of these items, as the evidence throughout this study shows. In what could be construed as contradictory foci with the emphasis on team work and community, individuality and individual choice also emerged as values teachers identified as part of the Thornton way. Max felt that the ethos of Thornton was to care and to get to know and to treat everyone individually (T16.139). This value was particularly apparent in descriptions of the ways in which teachers treated students in the school A number of support staff commented on their perception that teachers valued students as individuals: Well, there's more of a personal atmosphere here, there's a more personal aspect each child Gwen SI. 131  I think what's valued here is the individual. The individual student to do well. Megan S3.168 I think the teachers our daughters have had, are on the whole...accept them as  117  individuals, that they are looking at them and their strengths and weaknesses a individual people. Lesley S8.339  For teachers, the pressure to conform to the Thornton way makes the commitment of the school to provision of choices for individuals, potentially fragile. This is explained by Barbara in her discussion of what she called the Thornton ethic:  It's kind of hard to put into words. But it's an attitude to people and to the community and to education. For example, I couldn't sort of start screaming at kids in the classroom and jumping up and down, and demanding my rights as a teacher. You know, you couldn't do that here. Other schools, possibly the teacher would have more freedom, here, I don't actually know what would happen if you did it. But there's just a kind of restraint. It's difficult to put into words. It's not expressed T2.310  There is therefore the prospect of considerable tension between the ostensible autonomy of teachers in the classroom and the pressure to conform to the Thornton way of conducting oneself as a teacher. It raises the possibility of what Hargreaves (1994) as "the heresy of individualism". He sets up a conflict for schools with strong, clearly articulated missions, between those who accept and adhere to the sense of mission, and those who question or doubt its veracity. He notes that: If missions develop loyalty among the faithful and confidence among the committed, they also create heresy among those who question, differ and doubt. The narrower and more fervent the mission, the greater and more widespread the heresy, (p. 163) The teachers and administrators at Thornton are slowly coming to terms with the need to accommodate occasional challenges to the largely shared mission and goals of the school. This is a tension in the school which will be explored in more detail in chapter 5.  There would, however, appear to be a large degree of 'fit' between the teaching staff and the Thornton way. Based on my observations and the comments of a number of teachers, a clear  118 sense emerged of people committed to working together towards a shared vision: When I arrived, I (got) the feeling that I was in a room of people, all heading in the same direction. Samantha T28.3J3 I believe prettyfirmlyin the philosophy of the school. Ben T20.59 I love the philosophy of the school. Tenia T27.50 I never worked with so many people who are so keen and who are - we all know what we want to do. Like we know what the school stands for, we know what we 're trying to achieve here. Georgia T6.116 The importance of sharing goals and an understanding of the school's mission has been acknowledged in a number of studies