Ways of relating and interacting in school communities: lived experiences of learners, educators and parents
Kitching, Ansie Elizabeth
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This article reports on the findings of a baseline study on social interaction in schools as experienced by learners, educators and parents. A qualitative phenomenological approach was followed, utilising a cross-sectional descriptive survey design. Participants included 1 170 learners aged between 11 and 18 years, 150 parents, and 85 educators from 12 South African schools. After participants had completed written assignments on their lived experiences in schools, data were thematically analyzed. Two main themes were identified, concerning enabling and disenabling ways of relating to and interacting with others. In terms of enabling ways of interaction, active engagement between people and acknowledging people were highlighted as subthemes. On the other hand, disenabling ways of interaction took the form of disengagement between people and disregard for people. Findings thus revealed that social interaction may fulfil a significant role in transformative social change in South African schools, such as decreased levels of unacceptable behaviour, relationship difficulties and disciplinary problems. In this manner, the findings of this pilot study correlate with complexity theory which postulates that social change is facilitated in the dynamic interaction between people.