Components of the Culture of Obedience in Iranian Schools

Document Type : Qualitative Research Paper


Department of Educational Administration and Planning, Faculty of Education and Psychology, Alzahra University, Tehran, Iran


The role of culture in planning and implementing educational reforms and in impacting the quality of the education system has rarely been discussed. This study aims to identify the features of culture in governmental primary schools for girls in Iran aged 7‒12 years. Using an ethnographic approach, qualitative data were collected and analysed. The data were collected based on a triangulation strategy, through observation, in-depth interviews with teachers, and content analysis of the Document for Fundamental Transformation of the Education System. Thematic analysis was used to discover, analyse, and interpret the pattern of data meanings.
The findings reveal that specific components represent the culture of these schools: a uniform education system, bureaucratic structure of schools, square-shape architecture of schools, national curriculum, arbitrary relationships between members of the school community, and the professional development of teachers based on the top-down command. The shared values of school members and behaviour norms are concerned with the exact execution of policies and plans issued in the form of circulars from the Ministry of Education, which shape the daily activities of school members; this has led to the emergence of a culture of obedience, wherein the members comply with the expectations, prescribed policies, and plans set by the Ministry of Education. Although studies acknowledge the importance of identifying cultural context, school culture has rarely been investigated in governmental primary schools for girls in Iran. This study highlights the role of education policymakers in maintaining and solidifying the existing culture in these schools.