Intertwined: the leadership development of A. Job Halfyard - One educator's social history narrative account of educational and community leadership development in rural Newfoundland (1949-1987)

Halfyard, Sharon (2019) Intertwined: the leadership development of A. Job Halfyard - One educator's social history narrative account of educational and community leadership development in rural Newfoundland (1949-1987). Doctoral (PhD) thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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What do Raymond Williams, Paulo Freire, Philip Warren, Herb Kitchen, and my research subject, A. Job Halfyard, have in common? They were male children of the Great Depression born in the 1920s and early 1930s. They lived through some of the most traumatic events of the first half of the 20th century at a most vulnerable stage of their lives. As adolescents, they had the opportunity to attend universities, a privilege once only awarded to the elite. They studied Marxist thought. They came to understand that politics is power, that intellectual knowledge—education—provided possibilities for new directions in life. They had reached a ‘turning point.’ They became socialist in their philosophy, values, and viewpoints. They listened, debated, and expressed opinions. They learned to become ‘actors’ and ‘change agents’ in a traditional institutional system that shaped their lives, their culture. They joined modern organizations. They became part of movements in their quest for a more just, equitable, and humane society. They encouraged experimentation and new ways of looking at the world. They became leaders who mentored and taught others. But Halfyard lived his goals and vision in one small corner of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador (NL) as an ordinary, obscure, and unsung foot soldier who had the ‘call to serve’ reflective of so many others of his generation. Through this case study of A. Job Halfyard, who taught in rural ‘outport’ Newfoundland for nearly 35 years from 1949 to 1987, I also explore factors that may have contributed to the leadership development of other educators in rural NL. During these post-Confederation years, the role of education was to prepare young people to take their place in a rapidly changing, increasingly industrialized, and more urban-centred society (Atlantic Development Board, 1969, p. vii). Using social history narrative and drawing from aspects of oral history, life histories, autoethnography, and visual auto/biography narrative inquiry methods, I examine the emergence of educational and community leadership identities—how and why so many teachers of that generation became leaders in outlying rural areas of the province (Giddens, 1991; p. 126; Sugrue, 2005, p. 10). My aim is to record and chart the institutional, community, personal factors and conditions that influenced the leadership development of teachers like Halfyard. My ultimate goal is to document some of those significant contributing influences to better understand the role of educators in post-Confederation Newfoundland. This study also provides insight into the alternative practices and policies envisioned within the educational landscape from 1949 to 1987. It was a time when the ‘welfare state’ ideology reigned supreme, a time when the social and economic well-being of all citizens was a paramount focus of governments. During this time, more professionally trained teachers were being groomed to assume rural leadership roles traditionally held by merchant families and church officials. They were given autonomy and inspired to adopt practices to meet the specific needs of the students and families in the rural places where they taught. This decentralized place-based educational approach would change with the introduction of the neo-liberal economic model of the late 1980s and the massive out-migration of rural populations to urban centres. Yet, their lessons and their approaches have currency today as rural communities struggle to sustain themselves in light of ongoing economic development pressures.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral (PhD))
Item ID: 13837
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 470-525).
Keywords: Case Study, Leadership, Education, Economic and Social Development, Rural Newfoundland, Oral History, Social History Narrative
Department(s): Education, Faculty of
Date: April 2019
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Halfyard, A. Job; Teachers--Social conditions--Newfoundland and Labrador--20th century; Educational leadership--Newfoundland and Labrador--History--20th century Rural development--Newfoundland and Labrador--History--20th century

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