Melbourne Graduate School of Education - Theses

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    Assemblages and representations: boys' interactions and displays in a Year 8 coeducational classroom
    Bain-King, Gerald ( 2005)
    This thesis draws on themes from postmodern philosophy (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, Grosz, 2004) and gender (Connell, 2002) to render boys' behaviours in a coeducational classroom and depict diversities in classroom cultures. The study engages one site, a Year 8 coeducational classroom, in an outer suburban Catholic secondary college of Melbourne, gathering moments and capturing shifts and responses to a range of representations during timetabled lessons. This ethnographic study of classroom behaviours of boys recognises the powerful influence of metanarratives on identities and agendas in schools. It employs a lens that views the metanarrative discourse as a field, where interplays between individuals and assembled cultures take place, as shifting, becoming, transiting bodies (Grosz, 2004). The research rejects deceptive simplifications that some totalising perspectives can bring to a study about gender, preferring stances that recognise multiple, unstable representations (Connell, 2002, p. 89). There is a recognition that particular challenges apply to ethnographic research of classes, including influences of histories and stances of the observer. It contests objective epistemological models and utilises conceptions of knowledge that reject objective accounts of reality to view cultures as `happenings' and multitudes of differential relations (Edgar & Sedgwick, 1999, Semetsky, 2003). Assemblages and representations observed in this study may not be reproduced in other settings, but lessons can be drawn from an understanding of representations, relationships and interplays between boys, their teachers and their peers. The study contributes to the debate about boys' education by providing connections between the observations and analysis of classroom interactions and boys' education literature. It shows how representations by participants in an educational setting can influence assemblages. It offers advice for educators about approaches that can effectively influence learning events.