Mutually respectful student-teacher relationships are central to improving educational experiences in the middle years. As much research continues to confirm, teachers relating well to their students remains one of the most significant factors in generating positive academic and social outcomes. Developing these sorts of relationships, however, necessarily involves problematising the traditional power inequities that exist between teachers and students. This chapter explores this premise and identifies ways that teacher practice, through a tendency to be mobilised around relations of domination and control, can constrain learning outcomes by suppressing students' sense of legitimacy and agency. Drawing on data and findings from two Australian studies, we bring these issues to life through detailing students' concerns about their relationships with their teachers. Given '[t]he first imperative of some teachers when teaching boys appears to be "controlling" rather than teaching them' (Lingard et al. 2002, p. 4), our focus in this chapter is on boys' experiences of schooling in the Middle Years. We do not wish to silence or marginalise girls' experiences, but the boys' voices featured here are most useful in making visible the constitutive nature of authoritative and coercive school and classroom relations (Davies 2000). As an issue of power and control, we explore these relations within the context of boys' investments in dominant constructions of masculinity. Drawing on the dimension of Supportive Classroom Environment, within the Productive Pedagogies framework (The State of Queensland 2001 ), the chapter concludes with a discussion of a number of ways in which schools might take these issues forward to establish more genuinely equitable and positive student-teacher relationships.
Teaching middle years: Rethinking curriculum, pedagogy and assessment
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