Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Faculty of Education

First Advisor

Professor MaxAngus


Pre-primary teachers' daily organisation and routines are established through repetitive patterns of actions which become highly ritualised. This study examines how pre-primary teachers use ritual and how ritual structures teaching in pre-primary classroom settings and in doing so serves a pedagogical purpose for teachers. Describing forms and functions of ritual provides a way of examining and interpreting what teachers know and do and how they go about their work. The interpretive paradigm of qualitative methodology has been adopted for the study. Participant observation and structured interviews are used as the primary methods of conducting field work and collecting data. The research is designed in the form of three case studies. Each case focuses on the teacher within the context of an interactive pre-primary classroom. Two classrooms are situated within the state education system, whilst the third setting is a Montessori pre-school. Data are reported for each of the cases. Six key features of ritual as it is enacted in pre-primary settings emerged from the data. Findings indicate that: pre-primary classrooms are highly ritualised; rituals are taken for granted; some rituals are sacrosanct; rituals can act as a framework; rituals are an expression of values and beliefs; and rituals are didactic. Classroom ritual has the potential to act as a tool through which teachers structure a particular form of praxis which goes beyond surface meaning and which carries a rational, pedagogical purpose for teachers. Ritual in each of the three pre-primary settings went beyond the realm of conveying messages of conformity, consensus and cohesiveness and was a means of putting in place a particular instructional form and leaching procedure for each of the three teachers

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