Towards transformative learning : bridging the divide between theory and practice in secondary education

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Mitchell, Graeme A
Institute for Global Solutions
narrative inquiry
secondary education
sustainability education
transformative learning
This qualitative study explored the interaction between transformative learning, sustainability education, and the Institute for Global Solutions (IGS) program. Using narrative analysis research methods, the researcher studied the experiences of 12 IGS alumni from Claremont Secondary School in Saanich, British Columbia to determine whether participation in the program resulted in perspective transformation, and, if so, identify the distinct factors and approaches that supported this process. Data was collected through open-ended questions via video-recorded interviews and analyzed according to the guidelines of narrative analysis to explore the degree to which the participants’ self-described experiences in IGS aligned with transformative learning theory. Results indicate that seven participants experienced a shift in thinking that would align with Mezirow’s conception of perspective transformation, exhibiting adult-like capabilities of critical self-reflection, rational discourse, and reflective action. The close-knit sense of community within the program, created and sustained by various structural and pedagogical factors, helped to foster social elements such as acceptance, acknowledgment, and appreciation by peers and teachers. Participants described the cohesive nature of the community as pivotal in sparking and supporting the process of perspective change. By offering insights into how social dynamics in the classroom might impact perspective transformation this study addresses a significant gap in the literature and serves as a reference point for other secondary school practitioners seeking to introduce elements of transformative learning into their design. Keywords: sustainability education; transformative learning; Institute for Global Solutions; narrative inquiry; secondary education
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