10 SES 08 D, Professional Identity, Understanding Wellbeing and Care and Responsibility
Teachers perform multiple, key social functions: they can be direct agents of change within their own societies, but are also tasked, by national and European institutions, with inculcating new generations with an active form of citizenship. When exploring the meaning of responsibility among adults, therefore, trainee pre-school and primary teachers offer a fruitful category for study. Furthermore, understanding what responsibility means to these future teachers can also offer insights into how a particular group of adults might perceive issues surrounding, or directly related to, themes of social justice and equality.
This study has two principal objectives:
- to assist our understanding of whether our sense of responsibility is something we learn and, if so, how this comes about.
- to investigate whether the meaning of responsibility is different for younger generations.
Main perspective or theoretical/ conceptual framework
As Lasch elucidated in The Culture of Narcissism (1979), recent decades have witnessed an emptying of the public sphere as a space for the collective. The void is filled by advertising, media and consumption, all of which serve to restrict the space in which the individual is asked to take the role of public-minded citizen. The individual becomes “the minimal self”, preoccupied with mere survival and unconcerned with the sphere of the polis.
Methods, research design This study comprises the following phases: I. A questionnaire consisting of open-ended questions that serves both to test the adopted research instrument and direct the successive phase of the study. II. A second cycle of modified questionnaires; setting up 4 focus groups; processing the data with NVivo software. III. Development of a training-action and participatory-training model; data processing using NVivo; deriving an overarching reading and interpretation of the data. IV. Cycle of 10 in-depth interviews with students from the same sample group; assessing the impact of the training-action programme; analysing the data. Mode of inquiry Phases I and II involve the collection of data via questionnaires comprising open-ended questions, which were asked face to face. The phase I questionnaire comprised two questions: 1. How, and from whom, have you learned to recognise your own responsibilities? Tell me about an important event that has had a bearing on your sense of responsibility. 2. What does it mean, to you, ‘to be responsible’? Based on the data collected during phase I, for phase II we decided to modify the questionnaire, adding a new question that was more explicitly related to the political and social spheres. Data/sources and/or evidence 226 Primary Education students participated in the study. Respondents were identified among students in the 1st and 5th years of the Laurea Magistrale course (combined Bachelor’s and Master’s degree) in Primary Education at the University of Verona. Almost all of the students on this course are female, and typically from 19 to 23 years old. The study is ongoing: two of the four phases have been designed in full; the precise nature of the other two – one involving focus groups with 5th-year students, the other the development of a participatory training model following the completion of the data collection and analysis phases – is still to be finalised.
Results and/or conclusions The experiences identified by the students as examples of responsibility relate, primarily, to their daily lives and their immediate context. Unsurprisingly, family occupies a central role in the data collected during phases I and II. The meanings of responsibility that surfaced with greatest frequency in the data are closely associated with personal life (consequences of one’s own actions; caring, work, autonomy). It is clear that these young people are keenly aware of the ethical aspects of responsibility: caring for yourself and other people, caring for the environment (Jonas). However, the public sphere – in the sense of a space in which, through word and action, we reach decisions of political value and work together to create a shared world (“koinon” – Arendt, 2000) – is almost entirely absent.
Arendt H., Tra passato e futuro, Garzanti, Milan 2001. Castoriadis C. - Lasch C., La cultura dell’egoismo, Elèuthera, Milan 2014. Derrida J., Politiche dell’amicizia, Raffaello Cortina Editore, Milan 1995. Gaudet S., Responsabilité et identité dans les parcours d’entrée dans l’ge adulte: qu’est-ce que répondre de soi à l’age adulte?, «Canadian Review of Sociology & Anthropology», 42, (2005), pp. 25-50. Herzog H., Hannah Arendt’s Concept of Responsibility, «Studies in Social and Political Thought»,10, (2004), pp. 39-56. Husserl E., Idee per una fenomenologia pura e una filosofia fenomenologica, Einaudi, Turin 2002. Jaspers K., La questione della colpa: sulla responsabilità politica della Germania, Raffaello Cortina Editore, Milan 2005. Jankélévitch,V., Il non so che e il quasi niente, Marietti, Genoa 1987. I. Kant, La metafisica dei costumi, Laterza, Rome-Bari 1996. Lasch C., The Culture of Narcissism, Norton & Company, New York, London 1979. Lincoln Y. S., Guba E. G. Naturalistic inquiry, CA, Sage Publications, Beverly Hills 1985. Mayo P., Gramsci, Freire e l’educazione degli adulti. Possibilità di un’azione trasformativa, Carlo Delfino, Sassari 2007. Nussbaum M., Non per profitto. Perché le democrazia hanno bisogno della cultura umanistica, Il Mulino, Bologna 2011. Vergani M., Responsabilità. Rispondere di sé, rispondere all’altro, Raffaello Cortina Editore Milan 2015. Young I. M. Responsibility for Justice, Oxford University Press, New York 2011.
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