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postgraduate thesis: The 'radical' in the classroom in British school stories from the 1950s to the present day

TitleThe 'radical' in the classroom in British school stories from the 1950s to the present day
Authors
Issue Date2011
PublisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)
Citation
Ghelani, D.. (2011). The 'radical' in the classroom in British school stories from the 1950s to the present day. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.5353/th_b4819917
AbstractThis thesis is a study of a recurring figure or trope of post-war British school stories wherein a ‘radical’ character enters a school or classroom setting to introduce an alternative concept of learning or education. The radical may be a teacher or a student. Teacher types include the tyrannical pedagogue; the ostentatious but ultimately self-serving teacher-sophist; the charismatic, benevolent Master; and the predatory teacher. Representations of the pupil include the loving disciple; the disloyal pupil; the autodidact; and the student-creator whose steals the Master’s knowledge and runs, fashioning new worlds from it. While these types vary from story to story, all modern classroom radicals challenge the way teaching and learning are practised in their educational institutions. In doing so, they reflect on the purpose of schools and the political ambitions behind knowledge construction. The post-war British school story classroom radical asks perennial questions about the modern site of pedagogy. What gives one the right to teach? Why must one be taught? What is true teaching? How should one educate and to what end? This thesis begins with a historical overview of British school story fiction, and argues that this flamboyant school-story character emerges from the debris of World War Two. My thesis moves on to focus on eight key novels, plays and autobiographies: Lord of the Flies (William Golding, 1954), To Sir, With Love (E.R. Braithwaite, 1959), Forty Years On (Alan Bennett, 1968), Black Teacher (Beryl Gilroy, 1976), The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (Muriel Spark, 1981), Another Country (Julian Mitchell, 1981), The History Boys (Alan Bennett, 2004) and Never Let Me Go (Kazuo Ishiguro, 2005). Chapter One focuses on radical dissent in the 1930s classroom, using Spark’s and Mitchell’s retrospective accounts. Chapter Two considers black teacher radicalism from the late 1950s to the 70s, using Braithwaite’s To Sir, With Love and Gilroy’s Black Teacher. Chapter Three takes the reader up to the 1980s, analysing the containment of radicalism in the figure of Alan Bennett and his work. Chapter Four discusses the limitations of classroom radicalism and the future of the school story radical in contemporary fiction, by examining the earliest and latest of the school stories selected for attention, Golding’s Lord of the Flies (1954) and Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go (2005). In the former radicalism is punished but idealised. The latter imagines a future of such a level of institutionalisation that radicalism in the classroom or elsewhere will have been rendered simply unthinkable. This thesis demonstrates that the radical in the classroom narrative trope is always didactic. Whether or not one is encouraged to agree with the radical, the implicit role of the radical character in the British school story is to educate the reader to think critically about the world and their place within it. Paradoxically, repeated textual examples of the radical’s failure and/or incorporation into the establishment point a type of critical pedagogical radicalism that is inherently conservative. This summation is supported by a brief genealogy of educational discourses and debates in Britain post-World War Two.
DegreeMaster of Philosophy
SubjectRadicalism in literature.
Radicalism - England - History - 20th century.
Dept/ProgramEnglish
Persistent Identifierhttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/185518

 

DC FieldValueLanguage
dc.contributor.authorGhelani, Divya.-
dc.date.accessioned2013-08-08T04:12:42Z-
dc.date.available2013-08-08T04:12:42Z-
dc.date.issued2011-
dc.identifier.citationGhelani, D.. (2011). The 'radical' in the classroom in British school stories from the 1950s to the present day. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.5353/th_b4819917-
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/185518-
dc.description.abstractThis thesis is a study of a recurring figure or trope of post-war British school stories wherein a ‘radical’ character enters a school or classroom setting to introduce an alternative concept of learning or education. The radical may be a teacher or a student. Teacher types include the tyrannical pedagogue; the ostentatious but ultimately self-serving teacher-sophist; the charismatic, benevolent Master; and the predatory teacher. Representations of the pupil include the loving disciple; the disloyal pupil; the autodidact; and the student-creator whose steals the Master’s knowledge and runs, fashioning new worlds from it. While these types vary from story to story, all modern classroom radicals challenge the way teaching and learning are practised in their educational institutions. In doing so, they reflect on the purpose of schools and the political ambitions behind knowledge construction. The post-war British school story classroom radical asks perennial questions about the modern site of pedagogy. What gives one the right to teach? Why must one be taught? What is true teaching? How should one educate and to what end? This thesis begins with a historical overview of British school story fiction, and argues that this flamboyant school-story character emerges from the debris of World War Two. My thesis moves on to focus on eight key novels, plays and autobiographies: Lord of the Flies (William Golding, 1954), To Sir, With Love (E.R. Braithwaite, 1959), Forty Years On (Alan Bennett, 1968), Black Teacher (Beryl Gilroy, 1976), The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (Muriel Spark, 1981), Another Country (Julian Mitchell, 1981), The History Boys (Alan Bennett, 2004) and Never Let Me Go (Kazuo Ishiguro, 2005). Chapter One focuses on radical dissent in the 1930s classroom, using Spark’s and Mitchell’s retrospective accounts. Chapter Two considers black teacher radicalism from the late 1950s to the 70s, using Braithwaite’s To Sir, With Love and Gilroy’s Black Teacher. Chapter Three takes the reader up to the 1980s, analysing the containment of radicalism in the figure of Alan Bennett and his work. Chapter Four discusses the limitations of classroom radicalism and the future of the school story radical in contemporary fiction, by examining the earliest and latest of the school stories selected for attention, Golding’s Lord of the Flies (1954) and Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go (2005). In the former radicalism is punished but idealised. The latter imagines a future of such a level of institutionalisation that radicalism in the classroom or elsewhere will have been rendered simply unthinkable. This thesis demonstrates that the radical in the classroom narrative trope is always didactic. Whether or not one is encouraged to agree with the radical, the implicit role of the radical character in the British school story is to educate the reader to think critically about the world and their place within it. Paradoxically, repeated textual examples of the radical’s failure and/or incorporation into the establishment point a type of critical pedagogical radicalism that is inherently conservative. This summation is supported by a brief genealogy of educational discourses and debates in Britain post-World War Two.-
dc.languageeng-
dc.publisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)-
dc.relation.ispartofHKU Theses Online (HKUTO)-
dc.rightsThe author retains all proprietary rights, (such as patent rights) and the right to use in future works.-
dc.rightsCreative Commons: Attribution 3.0 Hong Kong License-
dc.source.urihttp://hub.hku.hk/bib/B48199175-
dc.subject.lcshRadicalism in literature.-
dc.subject.lcshRadicalism - England - History - 20th century.-
dc.titleThe 'radical' in the classroom in British school stories from the 1950s to the present day-
dc.typePG_Thesis-
dc.identifier.hkulb4819917-
dc.description.thesisnameMaster of Philosophy-
dc.description.thesislevelMaster-
dc.description.thesisdisciplineEnglish-
dc.description.naturepublished_or_final_version-
dc.identifier.doi10.5353/th_b4819917-
dc.date.hkucongregation2012-

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