Existence in Tension: A Post-Intentional Phenomenological Analysis of Teachers' Perceptions of Pedagogical Metaxy as a Response to Gnostic Philosophy and Standardization in Education
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This study explores the influence of tension, or metaxy, on teachers’ perceptions and understandings of pedagogy in the public school classroom in general and the teacher-student relationship in specific. A post-structural framework, informed in part by Bakhtin’s (1984) insistence that reality of the self is possible only through discovery of the “other,” recognizes the relational in-between-ness of pedagogy. Six elements of pedagogy are identified as participating in this relationality – monologic and dialogic theories, technical and relational practices, and teacher and student participants. These elements interact with one another to form what Ellsworth (2005) and van Manen (2015) refer to as transitional spaces and pedagogical moments respectively. The spaces and moments of pedagogy stand in opposition to current standardization efforts, which are critiqued as being Gnostic. Three Gnostic influences – dissatisfaction with the present, radical duality, and secret knowledge – actively work against metaxy by restructuring pedagogical relationships into hierarchies. A post-intentional phenomenological analysis of three middle school science teachers’ perceptions of pedagogy suggests that educators can play a role in flattening these hierarchies by practicing compassion and humility in the teacher-student relationship. Compassion – defined as the recognition of the other, and humility – the acceptance of the unknowable, serve to repurpose educators’ understanding of teacher dispositions as representations of learning. The study concludes by examining how this reframing of dispositions as learning may positively impact teacher education programs and their assessment of candidates.