An Exploration of the Use of Disruption as a Pedagogic Intervention

Jun. 30, 2009

Source: Educational Action Research, Volume 17, Issue 2 June 2009 , pages 293 - 309.

This article describes a journey of exploration in which the author takes a hitherto unexamined aspect of her teaching practice, the use of disruption, and subject it to interrogation. The journey is an exercise in auto-ethnographic research in that the author is her own subject, located within the context of the classroom.

Her purpose is to surface the beliefs that underpin this pedagogic strategy and to locate it within theories of teaching and learning in higher education, so that that which is known but not yet thought becomes available for reflection and challenge.

The article is structured in such a way as to trace the thought processes that shaped the direction of the journey; it follows a logic dictated by the heuristics of recognition and association. Throughout the journey the author draws on students' reflective reports to illustrate her conclusions that disruption is a metaphorical strategy that uses associative logic to promote transformations in students' underlying belief systems and is an artefact of a relativist ontology. It assumes a political stance about the challenging of power relationships and of collusion.

The author concludes by identifying some ethical issues that are raised by this teaching strategy. She highlights the importance of a relationship of trust between teacher and student that is based on a shared commitment to each other's potentiality.

Updated: Nov. 25, 2009