Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - NSU Access Only

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Abraham S. Fischler College of Education and School of Criminal Justice


Roslyn Doctorow

Committee Member

Sandra Duncan

Committee Member

liberal learning, classics, neoliberalism, professional development, imagination


This phenomenological study explored the teaching and learning experiences of MacMillan certified teachers to determine the effectiveness of the MacMillan approach to teaching and learning. This study examined how teachers described their professional learning at the MacMillan Institute and how they then described their teaching experiences using the MacMillan Institute™ in the Humanities curriculum. The curriculum, rooted in a liberal education philosophy was implemented in public schools where neoliberal reforms and practices reign, so understanding what liberal learning can look like in the public-school setting could be valuable to school reform.

The researcher used a phenomenological approach to capture the lived experiences of 9 MacMillan Academy teachers. Data were collected through individual interviews, a focus group discussion, and a concluding journal writing, where participants provided individual descriptions of the effectiveness of the humanities course in the public school. Triangulated data provided a significant understanding of the aims of liberal learning, resulting in four major themes: (a) the power of classic texts, (b) a community of learners, (c) the transformative power of liberal learning.

Findings from this study align with research suggesting that neoliberal reform has caused education to focus on preparing students for work so they can compete, while a liberal education, from ancient times, has focused on developing the personhood of the learner, so they can be active in a democratic society. This study suggests further research be conducted with former MacMillan Academy students to examine their activity on campus or in community.

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