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An exploration of unconscious operations and group mentalities in mathematics lessons in a secondary state school in England

Silverman, Joyce Faith; (2019) An exploration of unconscious operations and group mentalities in mathematics lessons in a secondary state school in England. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This study employs an object relations psychoanalytic framework to examine occurrences of unpredictable and disruptive episodes in mathematics lessons involving a sample of pupils aged 12-16 with a broad range of mathematical attainment and sociocultural backgrounds. Data were collected over a three-year period by participant observation. I engaged in ongoing psychoanalytically-informed reflection as I recorded field notes of my teaching and carried out pupil interviews. Data were analysed using a methodology derived from Klein’s basic principles of object relations theory and the extensions to Klein’s theory formulated by Bion in his observations of groups. The results relate to formal and informal classroom interactions at individual, subset and whole class levels and are presented in a format informed by autoethnography. The findings generate new knowledge concerning the unconscious aspects of my beliefs and actions associated with teaching, the relationships I developed with pupils, and pupils’ expressions of affect as they participated in my mathematics lessons. Teacher-pupil relationships incorporated many of the anxieties, defence mechanisms and emotions highlighted in Klein’s conceptualisation of the mother-infant relationship. Pupil learning and attainment were shaped by individual expressions of defence mechanisms and the manifestation of subset and whole group mentalities that emerged as collective defensive responses to various anxiety determinants. The efficacy of the co-construction of mathematical knowledge seemed to be mediated by the unconscious operation of projective identification and dependent on the extent to which I was able to contain pupils’ anxieties and gratify their needs for love and affection.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: An exploration of unconscious operations and group mentalities in mathematics lessons in a secondary state school in England
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2019. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/ 4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms.
Keywords: mathematics education, psychoanalytic perspectives of classrooms, social environments of classrooms, emotional aspects of teaching and learning, teacher pupil relationships, student behaviour, classroom interactions, group dynamics in classrooms, affect in mathematics lessons, participation in mathematics classrooms
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10075014
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