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Wanting to be ‘known’: re-defining self-awareness through an understanding of self-narration processes in educational transitions.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


Journal publication date2009
JournalBritish Educational Research Journal
Number of pages16
Original languageEnglish


The aim of this paper is to initiate discussion about the pursuit of self-awareness – a concept embedded in recent policy – as an educational goal. We argue that complex theoretical questions need to be addressed if improvements in policy and practice relating to personal, social and emotional education are to ensue. Such questions relate to possible interpretations of ‘self-awareness’, a term that may be linked to out-dated theories, implying a ‘self’ to be discovered and the possibility that people can sustain a ‘sense of self’ across time and place. From this perspective, self-awareness may seem overly individualistic, obscuring more pro-social goals (e.g., empathy, compassion, citizenship). Drawing on sociological and social psychological literature, as well as data from an empirical study of identity construction, we hope to contribute to the provision of firm foundations for personal, social and emotional education through a stronger theoretical exposition of ‘self-awareness’. Our re-conceptualised version highlights the importance of an expanded and flexible story of self, which we view as an invaluable tool for learning, fostering an openness to change.