Exploring the teacher-student relationship in teacher education: a hermeneutic phenomenological inquiry
The relationship between teacher and student has always been a central interest of the educational process. While the nature of this relationship can be understood from various theoretical frameworks, research that seeks to understand the “lived experience” of this relationship is less prevalent. This research explores the phenomenological nature of the teacher-student relationship in the context of teacher education. Stories of the lived experience of this relationship were hermeneutically interpreted against the philosophical writings of Heidegger, Gadamer, and Buber. The research answers the question: what is the meaning of the teacher-student relationship? Relationships are essential to the educational experience whether this is recognised or not, and whether we are consciously aware of this or not. Once established, relationships continue to exist beyond the time and space of the individuals influencing future relational experiences. In addition, a teacher’s comportment has been found to have a communicative aspect that is felt and sensed by others. A further essential understanding opens the play of relating. That is, the teacher and student experience their relationship as a play that is unscripted, uncertain, and lived beyond the rules of engagement. In this play, teachers who are attuned to relationship show a phronesis, or practical wisdom, as they relate moment by moment. The outcomes of this research call into question technicist and instrumental models of teacher education which are presently underpinned by the dominant neoliberal ideology. Consistent with critical and humanistic approaches to education, this research calls for the humanising of the educational experience through the educating and re-educating of teacher educators and teachers towards essential understandings of relationship.