The use of sandtray with teachers within the context of school development: a case study

Newman, Thomas Sebastian Mark (2005-03)

Thesis (MEdPsych (Educational Psychology))--University of Stellenbosch, 2005.


Teachers have a central role to play in the process of educational transformation. Given their deep contextual understanding of their school it is important to provide a safe space, so that their voices can be heard. Within the context of educational transformation, educational psychologists are challenged to redefine their role and to become more involved in the general process of schooling. The new role envisaged for educational psychologist suggests an enlargement of their scope of practice to include both individual work as well as work within the different systems. The role as organizational consultants suggests that the educational psychologist must assist with professional teacher development and organizational development in order to equip schools to become more effective in their purpose and goals. The study attempts to explore the directive use of sandtray as a non-verbal and projective technique, within the framework of school development planning, to facilitate school development. It is envisaged that the outcomes of the research can contribute towards the range of skills and interventions that educational psychologists can use to effect school reform and development. A qualitative case study within the interpretive paradigm was chosen as research design. The case was a high school in the Namaqua District of the Northern Cape Province. The sample for this study consists of 6 teachers that were representative of the staff. The data was collected through 6 individual sandtray sessions, semi-structured interviews and 1 focus group discussion. Photographs of the subjects sand worlds were also taken. The review of literature and the findings of this research, suggest that sandtray, as a projective technique, when used in an ethical and responsible way, during the auditing phase of school development, can give the educational psychologist access to the underlying personal and structural dynamics that hinders the process of development and renewal within a school. Secondly, it helps to develop an understanding of the individual perspectives, point of views and emotional reactions of teachers towards the existing context of the school. Since school development is also concerned with personal and professional development of teachers, it is important to provide psychosocial support for teachers to deal with personal issues that emerge out of the sandtray process as well as the challenges within the context of their school. To develop a composite picture of the school it seems important to involve all role-players in the initial phases of school development planning.

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