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The Promise of Restorative Justice: A Hermeneutical Analysis

Sutter, Mary Alanna
June 4, 2015

Source: (2003) Dissertation submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Department of Educational Administration and Foundations. Illinois State University.

This dissertation represents an investigation of behavior management philosophies at the Midwest School District educational community. This community was asked to consider the possibility of replacing a punitive philosophy of behavior management with a restorative philosophy. Focus group interview data and statistical data were collected and analysed. This data suggested that secondary educators support a punitive philosophy of behavior management yet recognized its weaknesses. They recognized strengths in a restorative approach to discipline yet were skeptical its ability to provide a safe and orderly environment. In the minds of the educational community, they had to make a choise either safety and order or care and community. This dichotomy resulted in communicated tensions between the various members of the educational community. These tensions were identified as a conflict between members in their understanding of which method resulted in a fair application of justice, which metho was culturally sensitive and the dilemma of shoosing care and community versus safety and order. Each of these issues was analyzed by looking at the conflict with the insights of social theory. The result of this analysis indicated that a punitive approach to behavior management holds power and order as primary goals over human dignity. This approach results in a differentiation ot he members of the educational community that stigmatizes and alienates. The data and its analysis indicates that a move to a more caring approach would be eneficial for the educational community at Midwest High School. A review of the literature with respect to educational change indicated that democratic governance and visionary leadership are required to move an educational community to a caring approach to behavior management. (author’s abstract).


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