Classroom Technologies

How power dynamics influence learning

What are power dynamics and how do they impact on the development of social community within the classroom? Louise Kinnaird considers how power comes to play a critical role in classroom social relationships and how it can influence the experience for both pupil and teachers.
Talking adults

Classrooms, like other communities, are social environments where relationships are influenced by the power dynamics at play between different individuals.  When we look at classroom relationships from this perspective we see that teaching is not a simple exchange between teacher and her pupils who are told how to behave, what to learn, or when and how to learn it, but a series of small power-loaded exchanges. This interests us most particularly if these exchanges relate a teacher’s loss of control when managing pupil’s behaviours. But teaching is not all about the power held by the teacher. Teaching is also about the empowerment of pupils to make decisions, the shaping of a learning environment to build productive relationships, and enabling individuals to influence others in positive ways. 

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