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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The practical knowledge of a fine arts supervisor in educational change : a case study Irwin, Rita Louise


Few naturalistic studies exist that take an in-depth look at the lifeworlds of consultants and supervisors. This single case study describes and interprets the practical knowledge of an exemplary Fine Arts Supervisor. In this study, the investigator acted as a participant-observer while "shadowing" Ruth Britten (a pseudonym) over a four month period. Data were derived through field research techniques, and were subjected to data analysis and interpretation. Drawing upon a body of literature dealing with the nature of practical knowledge, this study concludes that a supervisor's practical knowledge is different from a teacher's practical knowledge in two important ways. First, curriculum implementation replaces curriculum development in the five commonplaces found in teacher practical knowledge: self, instruction, curriculum development, subject matter, and milieu. Second, the political knowledge context forms a major addition to the five orientations defined by Elbaz regarding teacher practical knowledge: theoretical, social, personal, situational, experiential. A third conclusion underlies the above: Elbaz's conceptual framework for a teacher's practical knowledge proved to be a useful starting point in determining a supervisor's practical knowledge. Practical knowledge is constructed upon rules of practice, practical principles, and images. In this study, these forms revealed the dialectical nature of much of Ruth's practical knowledge. Two constructs or landscapes of imagery became apparent, one being the empowerment and power of teachers, and the other, bureaucratic power and control and educational stability. Analysis of Ruth's style as a supervisor examined further dialectical relationships, as she continuously resolved contraries while implementing fine arts curricula. The findings suggest that among other requirements, supervisors need to develop a unique form of practical knowledge geared to the political context of curriculum implementation. Therefore, School Boards should consider tenure contracts for supervisors rather than limited term contracts, and should promote special training for supervisors in curriculum change strategies rather than assume that master teacher practical knowledge is sufficient.

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