Mechanism of choice in the road end’s village : a qualitative study of teachers’ perceptions of the system of parental choice in primary education and their professional roles in rural contexts on Hungary
1University of Oulu, Faculty of Education, Department of Educational Sciences and Teacher Education, Educational Sciences
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Parents’ right to choose a primary school for their children is a central, instrumental element of education not only in Hungary but in the broader domain of European education systems as well. Choice mechanisms in education are connected to an ideological stand of extending market mechanisms within education. Choice mechanisms are instrumental to create and maintain a competitive domain within the sphere of education. Literature about choice also reveals its negative social impacts through stratifying education systems. In the context of Hungary, choice mechanism is also connected to other processes, such as various forms of segregation, for instance. While this theses places choice at the focus of study, the research is concerned with educators’ conceptualizations, and perceptions of choice mechanisms in settings where choice is limited. The research topic and the research design are aided by a critical theoretical view, utilizing theoretical constructs aided by critical pedagogy. The research is a construct attempting to give voice to teachers in discussing education beyond the immediate experience of the classroom, allowing teachers to construct an understanding together with the researcher on choice mechanisms, their settings and their professional roles within the setting. Empirical data has been collected in rural Hungary; recorded, in depth, and unstructured conversations with practicing teachers in several settings. The thesis employs qualitative content analysis as the instrument for organizing and describing findings. Data is combined and analyzed utilizing a combination of approaches searching for and categorizing specific meanings. Teachers who participated in the research often identified and described similar views within the same topic areas. They willingly shared their views and perceptions of choice mechanisms within primary education. Educators in the contextual setting of the study were also keen to describe and find justifications for their positions, as well as consider it in relation to or within the education system. Topics also emerged from the data beyond the original focus of study. The perceptions and descriptions of events direct the research to take a closer look at aspects of rural education, governance and provision of education.
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