Obligations and/or autonomy. Agency in Hungarian teachers’ self-reflective narratives

Tamás Péter Szabó
University of Jyväskylä /Research Institute for Linguistics, Hungarian Academy of Sciences
tamas.p.szabo _arvaa_ jyu.fi

Recent studies on students’ and teachers’ narratives have proved that the consideration of self-reflecting narratives supports the planning and the preparation of education-related activities (see e.g. Kalaja et al. 2008). Since previous studies generally focused on students’ stories on learning, the present paper emphasizes the importance of investigating teachers’ narratives. Playing an important role in the organization of school discourses, their self-positioning and self-evaluation can influence the performance of their students.

The present paper gives an insight into Hungarian teachers’ self-reflective practices, based on a collection of semi-structured research interviews recorded by the author in various Hungarian schools with 23 teachers. In these interviews, teachers of Hungarian grammar and literature present their teaching activity and they portray the students they teach as well (for previous Hungarian studies, see Duff 1995; Nahalka 2003; Szivák 2010). Using agency analysis, situated reconstructions of interpersonal relations will be investigated in the narratives. These dynamically modified (re)constructions are used as reference points while arguing for or against certain educational practices or evaluations.

As a case study, the present paper analyzes an interview recorded with a teacher who was a novice at her working place in the date of the interview. This analysis helps to understand the process during which teachers familiarize themselves with their institutional environment, and start to adapt their practices, and, what is more, the description of their practices to the expectations expressed by their superiors.



Duff, P. A. 1995. An ethnography of communication in immersion classrooms in Hungary. TESOL Quarterly 29: 505−537.

Kalaja, P., Menezes V. & Barcelos, A. M. F. (eds.) 2008. Narratives of Learning and Teaching EFL. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Nahalka, I. 2003. A nevelési nézetek kutatása [The investigation of concepts on education]. Iskolakultúra 5: 69–76.

Szivák, J. 2010. A reflektív gondolkodás fejlesztése [Developing reflective thinking]. Budapest: MATEHETSZ.


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