School meaning systems: the symbiotic nature of culture and 'language-in-use'

Abawi, Lindy (2013) School meaning systems: the symbiotic nature of culture and 'language-in-use'. Improving Schools, 16 (2). pp. 89-106. ISSN 1365-4802


Recent research has produced evidence to suggest a strong reciprocal link between school context-specific language constructions that reflect a school's vision and schoolwide pedagogy, and the way that meaning making occurs, and a school's culture is characterized. This research was conducted within three diverse settings: one school in the Sydney Catholic Education system and two Education Queensland State schools, in Australia. Emergent from the school data is the understanding that a contextually created meaning system can be a powerful force, having a beneficial effect on, and symbiotic relationship with, school culture. Such a meaning system is not dependent on words alone. Metaphors, images, structures and processes unique to each context appear integral to the creation of meaning within each school, and how staff and students make
sense of their 'life-world'. Each meaning system works at the level of establishing and reinforcing basic norms,
assumptions and ways of working. The creation of such a meaning system does not happen by accident but requires nurturing. This research suggests that over time, shared understandings appear to become intuitive to some extent, and accepted ways of thinking and working become firmly embedded as school culture.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: © The Author(s) 2013. Permanent restricted access to Published version due to publisher copyright restrictions.
Faculty / Department / School: Current - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - School of Teacher Education and Early Childhood
Date Deposited: 02 Jul 2013 06:04
Last Modified: 04 Feb 2015 01:59
Uncontrolled Keywords: meaning making; metaphor; pedagogy; school culture; school improvement
Fields of Research : 22 Philosophy and Religious Studies > 2202 History and Philosophy of Specific Fields > 220202 History and Philosophy of Education
13 Education > 1399 Other Education > 139999 Education not elsewhere classified
20 Language, Communication and Culture > 2004 Linguistics > 200405 Language in Culture and Society (Sociolinguistics)
Socio-Economic Objective: E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970113 Expanding Knowledge in Education
Identification Number or DOI: 10.1177/1365480213492407

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