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On becoming an educational professional: the past in the present

Bainbridge, Alan (2012) On becoming an educational professional: the past in the present. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.94187) (KAR id:94187)

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The process of becoming a professional in an educational setting is, arguably, unique and may be distinguished from all other professions, as those who decide to take up this role have had substantial previous experience during their own schooling. It is the impact of this earlier experience that forms the basis of this thesis. In particular, it explores how individual subjectivities interact with the objective reality of professional practice in educational settings. Previous research has identified the tensions and complexities within this process and this exploration is expanded here by using a synthesis of psychoanalytic group theory, a sociological understanding of the social construction of reality and a recent adaptation of critical theory that emphasises the role of recognition in forming relations to the self. A series of narratives, representing an earlier life story and the more recent experiences of professional development in an educational setting, are collected from professionals early on in their career to provide rich data on the encounter between subjectivity and the facticity of education. These narratives were analysed using a gestalt methodology, the Narrative Process Coding System and 'future-blind' panels. Continued comparison of the data enabled an education biography for each participant to emerge and also revealed two main findings. The first confirmed that patterns of relating to educational settings as a pupil were replicated later in the context of developing a professional role. It is argued that this represents a transferential relationship with the structures and processes of education. Secondly it was found that themes of agentic behaviour and responses to the reality of educational settings provided a commonality between the education biographies of all the participants. A discussion of these themes within two case studies and a wider application to the other participants provides an empirical understanding of the objectification of a profeSSional practice. These two main themes also offer a unique synthesis of psychoanalytically informed social defences, recognition theory and how a facticity of professional practice may emerge. Finally it is argued that the collection of life story narratives from trainees or profeSSionals early in their career provides a simple and efficacious technique to engage in meaningful and reflexive professional development dialogue. Ultimately this research seeks to move the present standards and competency focused approach to developing a professional practice to a more nuanced and realistic one that considers how individuals encounter and respond to an objectified professional world.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Lepper, G.
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.94187
Additional information: This thesis has been digitised by EThOS, the British Library digitisation service, for purposes of preservation and dissemination. It was uploaded to KAR on 25 April 2022 in order to hold its content and record within University of Kent systems. It is available Open Access using a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivatives ( licence so that the thesis and its author, can benefit from opportunities for increased readership and citation. This was done in line with University of Kent policies ( If you feel that your rights are compromised by open access to this thesis, or if you would like more information about its availability, please contact us at and we will seriously consider your claim under the terms of our Take-Down Policy (
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Psychology
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 20 Sep 2022 15:11 UTC
Last Modified: 20 Sep 2022 15:11 UTC
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