Relational theory and critical race theory as social practice in school: The restorative approach

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Boudreau, Amy
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Mount Saint Vincent University
This thesis presents a restorative approach in education as a relational, anti-racist and culturally responsive way of being together in school communities. Through a theoretical lens of relational theory and critical race theory, case study research was conducted on the restorative approach at a diverse urban elementary school in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The questions this work addresses include: How does a restorative approach affect the quality of relationships in school communities, particularly for people that have been marginalized? And, what are some recommendations on how to best implement restorative approaches effectively and sustainably? Participants in the case study include students and staff at the school which serves a socioeconomically and culturally diverse population, including an African Nova Scotian community. In addition, the reflexive nature of the researcher is taken into account as she is a member of the school community as both a classroom teacher and resident. Qualitative data was collected through group talking circles with students and staff at the school and analyzed to reveal four themes that are integrated around a core category of nurturing social culture change including 1) strengthening social connection, 2) affirming identity, 3) fostering emotional engagement, and 4) resolving and preventing conflict. Through an in-depth look at the experience of “Halifax City School,” this study also provides recommendations on the effective and sustainable implementation of restorative approaches in education, including 1) understanding a restorative approach in theory and practice, 2) participating in sustainable social opportunities to collectively develop, support and strengthen the approach, 3) learning and collaborating in the broader community, and 4) ongoing evaluation.
Relational theory , Critical race theory , African Nova Scotians