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UBC Theses and Dissertations

This teaching land : Learning hermeneutically in the English 9 classroom Wittman, Jacklyn Maureen


This thesis in the spirit of hermeneutic inquiry tell the story of a teacher facing challenges in her grade nine English classroom. It is an exposition of reflective narrative, poetry and hermeneutic writing for the purpose of deconstructing stale attitudes and searching under cliched stereotypes with regard to how early adolescents deal with the English curriculum, the pedagogy and the interactive dynamics in the classroom. The reflective narrative presents events, successes, failures and perplexities as they occurred throughout one year of teaching. The hermeneutic process reveals assumptions, traces background knowledge, questions power and gender and acknowledges the effects of mothering/teaching. It explores the value of writing inside and outside the classroom by both teachers and students as a trace of growth in learning. Most importantly, this thesis presents the intrigue of metaphor and poetry as a radical hermeneutic in the quest for understanding. The poetry reveals perceptions about the complexity of the multiple relationships that are formed in a classroom. Each poem testifies to the intensity of the lived experience and provides visionary opportunities for further understanding. The complete narrative takes place in a metaphorical geography where landforms are mixed: bog, rugged terrain, open plain and seashore. Each location is analogous to the state of the struggle toward understanding and learning. Students and teacher live and learn together in this figurative land. Sometimes they are foe, sometimes they are friend. The metaphors that bring understanding change as the writer's perceptions change. This work acclaims the value of the hermeneutic circle in its embrace of all individuals struggling and learning in language together. It is a celebration of hermeneutic inquiry and what it reveals about the mystery and power of language in writing.

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