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Positive orientation in education in teacher education curriculum


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Simel Pranjić, Sanja. (2018). Positive orientation in education in teacher education curriculum. PhD Thesis. Filozofski fakultet u Zagrebu, Department of Pedagogy.
(Poslijediplomski doktorski studij pedagogije) [mentor Sekulić-Majurec, Ana].

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The changes in the contemporary world are results of the processes of globalization, migrations, multiculturalism, interculturalism, technological and health advances as well as significant threats to human security and they inevitably cause changes in education as well. There are increasing incidents of depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses, even amongst children and youth, which call for prevention and intervention within the school context. However, this does not mean that teachers should focus only on problem solution and prevention. All this implies that teachers are expected to take new roles and acquire competences which will help them to adapt to these changes and provide conditions for the full development and self-fulfilment of their pupils in such an environment. This can be done by creating a positive orientation which attempts to develop potentials and talents of pupils. Such education is based primarily on freedom, mutual respect and encouragement of positive development of all members in an educational process. The foundation of this positive orientation in education is focus on potentials and talents of pupils; however, this is not enough for pupils’ self-fulfilment. Above all else, teachers should establish a close and supportive relationship with their pupils. This means they should promote and encourage them in being open to new experiences, enable new experiences for them, encourage choosing and achieving their own values, encourage their creativity along with developing their self-confidence, self-esteem and a positive future orientation. Teachers should also enable pupils to freely express and understand emotions as the constituent part of their development. In the context of positive orientation in education as a process, those elements could also be understood as its component parts. However, the sole idea about focusing on positive traits, potentials and talents of pupils in the process of education is not new. Throughout the history of pedagogy, it has been discussed by numerous pedagogues as well as humanistic psychologists and positive psychologists. Nevertheless, their ideas need to be systematized and reconceptualised within pedagogy in order to fit in better with the demands of today’s contemporary society and the participants of the educational process. This is why a new field in pedagogy could be discussed, which is today still relatively unresearched. In this process of researching and dealing with the topic of positive orientation in education, knowledge from other sciences makes significant contribution. For example, within psychology its sub-discipline positive psychology, among other things, studies positive human traits, virtues and character strengths. Prior to this psychology mainly focused on researching and dealing with human problems and difficulties. Therefore, psychologists identified a need to refocus on what makes life worth living. Ideas from positive psychology have been applied in the school context, through programs and interventions, with the purpose of promoting pupils’ well-being. Those programs have mostly been focused on gaining knowledge, skills and universal values and character strengths pupils need to train within the school context. However, can pupils’ well-being really be promoted if we do not enable it for them to have the autonomy to choose what is important and meaningful for them personally? In other words, if they develop according to externally imposed standards, and not in accordance with their own desires, needs and interests. Implementing positive orientation in education, which is the topic of this thesis, teachers should above all create the conditions in which pupils will, along with the help and support of the teacher, autonomously choose and realize what is personally important for them – their own potentials and talents. In order to affirm positive orientation in school, it is important to raise consciousness of students of teacher-training colleges of such educational orientation as it is students' attitudes that instigate their work in the classroom. In order to find out to which degree today's higher education prepares future teachers for such positive educational work, the research on correlation between current teacher education curriculum (both on the level of content and experience) and students' attitudes about positive orientation in education was carried out. The results showed that they are interrelated, but the experience of students during their studies is still more closely related to the attitudes than to the contents of the curriculum. Students deal with topics such as creativity and positive emotions while they more rarely cover other topics related to this orientation. As far as their experience of positive orientation in education is concerned, i.e. the development of students' potentials and talents, students rated them rather negatively, which was visible in their more negative attitudes towards certain components, especially towards emotions. Hence, it may be concluded that university teachers do not create favourable conditions for students' development. It is especially indicative that most common fears students have are related to the expression of emotions and the establishing of meaningful and close relations with pupils. However, they do not have the opportunity to confront with their fears during their studies. A close and meaningful relationship with pupils is the foundation on which positive orientation in education should be implemented. Students can gain experience in developing such relationships with pupils during the practice they do in schools during college. However, the results of this research indicate this possibility has not been utilized enough. In other words, the results indicate that there is not enough connectedness and critical reflection on theoretical knowledge and its functioning in practice. However, the curriculum is not the only factor contributing to students’ attitudes about positive orientation in education. Students’ empathy, life orientation (optimism/pessimism), personally important values and satisfaction with higher education significantly correlate with students’ attitudes. The results provide significant implications for the enhancement of the teacher education curriculum and they will contribute to its quality and to the implementation of positive orientation in education. For example, during their practice in schools, students could write reports about their experiences in class, difficulties and challenges they have faced and discuss this with their supervisors and university teachers. This would provide them with a clearer picture of their own professional as well as personal development. They could face their own fears about their relationship with pupils, education and teaching and critically analyze them. Furthermore, results indicate the need to introduce a new course, dealing with positive orientation in education, all its components or the need to integrate positive orientation in education into other courses. It is extremely important that university teachers realize the importance of implementing positive orientation in education in their own practice and truly walk the talk. This would prepare their students even more for a successful realization of their life’s calling and bridge the existing gap between theory and practice in teacher education curriculum.

Item Type: PhD Thesis
Uncontrolled Keywords: positive orientation in education, student, teacher, teacher education curriculum
Subjects: Pedagogy
Departments: Department of Pedagogy
Supervisor: Sekulić-Majurec, Ana
Additional Information: Poslijediplomski doktorski studij pedagogije
Date Deposited: 12 Feb 2018 13:20
Last Modified: 12 Feb 2018 13:20

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