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School Bullying and Current Educational Practice: Re-Imagining Theories of Educational Transformation


by Ronald B. Jacobson — 2007

Background/Context: Bullying within schools continues despite thoughtful and well-researched anti-bullying strategies deployed against it. The bulk of research targeted toward understanding and eradicating bullying within schools is of an empirical nature. In other words, through data collection, questionnaires, interviews, ethnography, observation, case studies, etc., researchers have sought to carefully assess bully/victim characteristics as well as the social processes that fuel bullying within schools.

Purpose/Objective/Research Question/Focus of Study: This project considers educational transformation (i.e., how we might transform those we educate) through a variety of pertinent, yet diverse, lenses. Specifically this paper is situated in the conviction that in order to stop bullying we must affect desire. We ask, then, how philosophical theories of transformation, specifically those regarding changes in dispositions, might contribute to our understanding of school bullying and current strategies aimed at reducing it. In short, the driving question underlying this project simply asks: how can we help the bully to no longer desire to bully?

Research Design: In contrast to the traditional empirical methodology which has been directed toward bullying research, this project employs several alternative philosophical and theoretical lenses, seeking to view bullying and the strategies aimed against it from diverse perspectives, raising fresh insights into this ongoing educational dilemma. Three broad philosophical lenses are employed, seeking to understand the processes of rational change (i.e., how one’s mind is changed), the desires that operate in relations of domination (i.e., bullying), and the social/cultural forces that may work to create characters such as bullies and victims.

Conclusions/Recommendations: As a result this project broadens current anti-bullying strategies, adding helpful insights regarding the “heart” change (i.e., transformations of desire) which may be necessary to effectively reduce bullying within schools. This interdisciplinary approach outlines future avenues of response not only aimed at transforming the bully/victim relationship after the fact, but also toward cultivating specific kinds of relationships within schools which may head off bullying before it develops.



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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 109 Number 8, 2007, p. 1931-1956
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 14073, Date Accessed: 11/24/2017 11:21:30 AM

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About the Author
  • Ronald Jacobson
    University of Washington
    E-mail Author
    RONALD B. JACOBSON is a Doctoral Candidate in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at the University of Washington. His main work involves the philosophical or theoretical consideration of dispositional transformation (transforming desire), specifically focused in confronting the phenomenon of bullying within schools. His recent paper Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Speak No Evil: Education, Humiliation, and Learning to Be Together (Journal of Thought, Summer 2005) focuses on issues of relational transformation and the intricacies of being human together.
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