Student and teacher perspectives on choice theory as transformative education: an alternative secondary school context
Master of Education
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Alternative education suffers from a bad reputation. Many people see these programs and schools as places where students who are considered to be “disruptive” or otherwise “deficient” in the eyes of mainstream education are sent to have their behaviour “corrected.” Some teachers talk about the prospect of working in alternative education as career suicide. Although both of these perspectives may be true in some cases, alternative education as a whole should not be dismissed as a dead-end for students and teachers. Quite the opposite picture emerges at the alternative school that is the subject of this study. The researcher interviewed seven teachers and seven students for their perspectives on the transformative potential of a local option course based around Control Theory, a philosophy of self-help and institutional organization that was popularized by Dr. William Glasser. This study examines the role that Control Theory plays in creating the potential for positive personal change in both students and teachers in their own words. It also offers a view of how a school culture of positive transformation can be nurtured using the ideas of Control Theory. Students commented on the life-changing influence of being part of the school culture and teachers expressed a high level of job satisfaction and increased perceptions of happiness and personal growth through both being trained in Control Theory and by being immersed in the culture of the school. This information has the potential to inform administrators and teachers in both alternative and mainstream schools as to how to craft meaningful transformative experiences in their schools for both their students and their staff.