The Role of the Teacher in a General Hospital

Wiles, Patricia Margaret (1986). The Role of the Teacher in a General Hospital. MPhil thesis The Open University.



A short history is presented of the work of committees and individuals who have been interested in the teaching of children in hospital. The importance of the normality of education for the life of the child in hospital emerges as a common factor of their beliefs.

The opposing views of two headmistresses on how education should be provided are presented. The first view is that education for children in hospital means the provision of individual tuition for long-stay pupils. The second view is that all children should be taught in hospital and implies that there should be permanent teachers on hospital wards.

Since the teacher works on a hospital ward among other professionals, her role on the ward is discussed. Negotiation is seen to be an important concept.

After a review of recent educational research where studies were undertaken in the classroom, four possible roles for the hospital teacher are defined. Thirty teachers from many parts of Britain were interviewed by a questionnaire/discussion method dealing with many aspects of their role. The answers are compared with Fassam's answers whenever possible.

Volunteers helped carry out a non-participant observation study on four wards of four general hospitals in Britain during school hours. Following this a comparative study was undertaken on two wards of an American hospital. The studies shewed that when teachers were present to work with all the children, the children were engaged in positive activities.

The educational value of the activities is then discussed with reference to the writings of Jean Piaget, means of assessment in normal schools and recent reports from H.M.I.'s.

The conclusion of the study is that the provision of a permanent teacher, even if part-time, means that all children benefit from a near normal work oriented atmosphere. The teacher, with the help of parents and volunteers, can include all of the children in a stimulating atmosphere and help to achieve their return to school with the minimum of disruption.

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