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Teacher autonomy in the middle school

13 December 1994


This qualitative research project looks into the realm of teacher autonomy. The research was conducted at an alternative middle school in Portland, Oregon. The research is in the form of an educational criticism as described by Elliot .Eisner in The Enlightened Eye. This research paradigm requires the researcher to describe, interpret, and evaluate the given educational scenario. This particular research setting is one where the teachers have a tremendous amount of professional autonomy. This allowed the researcher to look at this autonomous condition, describe it, and eventually evaluate its merits and shortcomings. The purpose of the research is to look at teacher autonomy and evaluate it as an educational tool. Is teacher autonomy a worthy goal for school systems to foster in an era of school reform? The literature review looks at the educational reform movement and how the notion of teacher autonomy fits into the debate over reform. The idea of standardization and equality in a curriculum are looked at from the vantage point of teacher autonomy and how autonomy relates to these ideals. The debate found within the literature was lively and views in favor and against large degrees of teacher autonomy were discussed. The analysis is an evaluation of the high degree of teacher autonomy that is described in the narrative. The research concludes that good teachers, while acting autonomously, are excellent in bringing about learning. Not exclusively, factual learning, which is aptly cultivated in centralized (nonautonomous) scholastic environments, but also other types of learning, such as learning creativity, critical thought, and dispositional knowledge.


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