STREAMS THAT RUN INTO THE RIVER OF LIVED EXPERIENCE: A PHENOMENOLOGICAL STUDY OF INTERN TEACHERS USING CURRERE TO UNDERSTAND CURRICULUM
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Title of Dissertation: STREAMS THAT RUN INTO THE RIVER OF LIVED EXPERIENCE: A PHENOMENOLOGICAL STUDY OF INTERN TEACHERS USING CURRERE TO UNDERSTAND CURRICULUM
Leslie LuAnn Palmer
Doctor of Philosophy, 2018
Dissertation Directed by: Professor Francine Hultgren
Department of Teaching and Learning, Policy and Leadership
This dissertation is the culmination of a phenomenological study of intern teachers using the Currere process to gain a broader and deeper understanding of curriculum. The Currere process is a written method developed by William Pinar through which participants recall past memories, imagine future occurrences, analyze the themes that arise in both, and synthesize the meaning to more purposefully shape the present lived experience. The connections that arise from using Currere as part of a phenomenological study of lived experience suggest pedagogical implications for intern teachers’ developing practice in the context of an acknowledged lived classroom curriculum.
Grounded in the philosophical contributions of Martin Heidegger, Hans-Georg Gadamer, and Maurice Merleau-Ponty, along with van Manen’s phenomenological structure and method, this work explores the development of teachers’ pedagogical orientation within the context of the lived experience of curriculum.
I first turn to my personal experience using Currere and also to the experiences of beginning intern teachers using Currere to develop individualized foundations prior to their coursework and internship experiences. I use the metaphor of the river to open up the phenomenon of using Currere to understand curriculum through various sources that reveal relationships with language, dwelling, identity, and hermeneutic phenomenology. The initial themes that arise include moments, in-between spaces, abundance, resilience, and the flow of lived experience.
This study focuses on the lived experiences of five Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) interns as they make meaning of curriculum using Currere. Through two individual conversations with each intern and a final whole-group conversation, the interns and I discussed internship experiences, curriculum in the fullness of its meaning, and pedagogical revelations from using the Currere process. Renderings of these conversations and the intern teachers’ written Currere processes reveal themes including navigating unexpected experiences; the difficulties of finding authenticity in a mentor’s classroom; the constant state of being watched, observed, and evaluated; exploring the teacher-self; and discovering the curriculum and pedagogy of lived experience.
Based on these emergent themes, I explore ways in which the lived experience of using Currere to understand curriculum has pedagogical implications for teacher practice and teacher preparation. My engagement with the texts of Currere and conversation suggest that opportunities for intern teachers to use the Currere process to understand curriculum can help them discover their own meaning of what it is to be a teacher, develop an orientation of stewardship toward their professional practice, deepen their understanding of curriculum in its abundance, and create a lived curriculum of pedagogical care for the children whom they have committed to serve.