Educational policy analysis archives

Educational policy analysis archives

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Educational policy analysis archives
Arizona State University
University of South Florida
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Educational policy analysis archives.
n Vol. 1, no. 3 (March 05, 1993).
Tempe, Ariz. :
b Arizona State University ;
Tampa, Fla. :
University of South Florida.
c March 05, 1993
The devil's bargain : educational research and the teacher / Ivor F. Goodson.
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1 of 15 Education Policy Analysis Archives Volume 1 Number 3March 5, 1993ISSN 1068-2341A peer-reviewed scholarly electronic journal. Editor: Gene V Glass, Glass@ASU.EDU. College of Edu cation, Arizona State University,Tempe AZ 85287-2411 Copyright 1993, the EDUCATION POLICY ANALYSIS ARCHIVES.Permission is hereby granted to copy any a rticle provided that EDUCATION POLICY ANALYSIS ARCHIVES is credited and copies are not sold.The Devil's Bargain: Educational Research and the Teacher Ivor F. Goodson University of Western "There are moments when many of us sense an odd dis tance between the ethos of teacher education and lived lives of the publics to whom we hope the schools can respond. There are moments when I feel a similar ga p between ourselves and many of the teachers in those schools. I have some of ou r normatives in mind, our styles of explanations, our ways of putting things." (Greene, 1991, p. 541). Abstract: The concern of this paper is to explore why it is t hat so much educational research has tended to be manifestly irrelevant to the teacher. A secondary question is how that irrelevance has been structured and maintained over the years. There are I think three particularly acute problems. Firstly the role of the older foundationa l disciplines in studying education. Secondly, the role of faculties of education generally. Third ly, related to the decline of foundational disciplines and the crisis in the faculties of educ ation, the dangers implicit in too hasty an embrace of the panacea of more practical study of e ducation. The decline of modernism makes this an interesting time because of the associated decline and in some cases collapse of the disciplinary cano ns on which much of educational research has been built. The disciplinary study of education (i. e. history of education, philosophy of education, sociology of education and so on) has always had a shaky purview within the realms of practitional lore. Long before postmodernism, there was a commonsense view among practitioners that the disciplinary study of educat ion was irrelevant to their concerns. This problem of the older disciplines arises in many cas es because the scholars working in disciplinary


2 of 15modes often develop their first allegiance to their home discipline--say history or philosophy. Whilst this is not intrinsically or inevitably a pr oblem it has the effect over time of divorcing such scholars from the world of schooling. This pro blem is often exacerbated by the fact that foundational disciplines adopt a hands-off posture with regard to schools; added to which, all too often, these scholars have no previous experience o f teaching in schools. Whilst none of this adds up to a conclusive proof o f irrelevance one can see I think why practitioners in the school would over time come to view this group as irrelevant. Here I am at one with what Schwab said about curric ulum research and I think it applies to educational research generally. He said the field o f curriculum was "moribund." "It is unable, by its present methods and principles, to continue its work and contribute significantly to the advancement of education. It requires new principle s which will generate a new view of the character and variety of its problems. It requires new methods appropriate to the new budget of problems." (Schwab, 1978, p. 287) There are just too many points at which credibility is strained--the manifest allegiance to the host discipline and not to the educational ende avour; the distance, occasionally disdain, in relationship to school and teachers; the absence of any experience of teaching school. None of these is in itself an insurmountable obstacle to co mmunication: put together it amounts to a collapse of credibility. But it is time to re-work the terrain and for foundational scholars to re-work their loyalties. This is a tragedy for the faculties of education not least because so many good proponents of the theoretical mission are loca ted within foundational disciplines. In my own faculty this potentially invigorating and rejuv enating project is well under way with the support of many foundational members. Schwab's diagnosis of the problems with curriculum research should be read alongside Veblen's and Clifford and Guthries' strictures abou t the relationships between university schools of education and schooling. Veblen wrote: ...the difference between the modern university and the lower schools is broad and simple; not so much a difference of degree as of ki nd." (1962, p. 15) This distinctiveness of purpose and mission: "...unavoidably leads them to court a specious appe arance of scholarship and so to invest their technological discipline with a degree of pedantry and sophistication whereby it is hoped to give these schools and their work some scientific and scholarly prestige." (p. 23) The resonance of Veblen's strictures has been confi rmed in Clifford and Guthries' recent work: "Our thesis is that schools of education, particula rly those located on the campuses of prestigious research universities, have become e nsnared improvidently in the academic and political cultures of their institutio ns and have neglected their professional allegiances. They are like marginal me n, aliens in their own worlds. They have seldom succeeded in satisfying the schola rly norms of their campus letters and science colleagues, and they are simult aneously estranged from their practising professional peers. The more forcefully they have rowed toward the shores of scholarly research, the more distant they have become from the public schools they are duty bound to serve. Conversely, s ystematic efforts at addressing the applied problems of public schools have placed schools of education at risk on their own campuses." (1988, pp. 3-4)


3 of 15 In short, the schools of education entered into a d evil's bargain when they entered the university milieu. The result was their mission cha nged from being primarily concerned with matters central to the practice of schooling toward s issues of status passage through more conventional university scholarship. The resulting dominance of conventional "disciplinary" modes has had a disastrous impact on educational re search. The devil's bargain on the part of education was an especially pernicious form of a more general displacement of discourse and debate which surrounded the evolution of university knowledge production. University knowledge evolved as separate and distinct from public knowledge for as Mills noted: "Men of knowledge do not orient themselves exclusiv ely toward the total society, but to special segments of that society with specia l demands, criteria of validity, of significant knowledge, of pertinent problems, etc. It is through integration of these demands and expectations of particular audiences wh ich can be effectively located in the social structure, that men of knowledge organiz e their own work, define their data, seize upon their problems." (Mills, 1979, p. 613) In Mills' view, such a structural location of "men of knowledge" (sic) in the university could have profound implications for public discourse and deba te. Mills believed this would happen if the knowledge produced in this way did not have public relevance, particularly if it was not related to public and practical concerns: "Only where publics and leaders are responsive and responsible, are human affairs in democratic order, and only when knowledge has publi c relevance is this order possible. Only when mind has an autonomous basis, i ndependent of power, but powerfully related to it, can it exert its force in the shaping of human affairs. Such a position is democratically possible only when there exists a free and knowledgeable public, to which men of knowledge may address thems elves, and to which men of power are truly responsible. Such a public and such men, either of power or of knowledge, do not now prevail, and accordingly, kno wledge does not now have democratic relevance in America." (ibid.) The dilemma facing men of knowledge which Mills des cribes is acute when that knowledge relates to schooling. In the schools know ledge is transmitted to future generations. If our knowledge of such knowledge transmission is fla wed, we are doubly imperilled: schooling is so intimately related to the social order that if e ither our knowledge of schooling is inadequate or it has no public relevance, then major aspects of s ocial and political life are obscured. In a real way, the future of democracy in any meaningful sens e is called in to question. Hence the question "whither educational research?", is one of great importance. Mills, I think, comes close to the nature of our dilemma and spells out the implications of the devil's bargain when he talks of the way "men of knowledge" orient themselves to "special segments of society". This has been the fate of much educationa l and curriculum theory and the effect has been that, as Mills put it, different groups "talk past each other". With few exceptions I would argue this is precisely the relationship between fa culties of education and school practitioners: they constitute a model of how to talk past each ot her. The problems of faculties of education are particul arly worrisome because of the political climate in which we currently operate. Hence, I sho uld make it clear that my mission in seeking to reconceptualize educational research is to reviv e and reconstitute one of the important missions, so often neglected, inside faculties of e ducation. Hence, what I am seeking is a relationship between faculties of education and pra ctitioners which is meaningful, vivid and vital. It is my view that unless this relationship is rapi dly explored and reinforced, new agendas will


4 of 15begin to work. The New Right is actively reconstitu ting educational patterns throughout the western world. In particular, it is moving towards more practical "classroom based work", funding direct training of teachers, and generally marginalizing faculties of education or restructuring their mission to exclusively practica l and professional development concerns. Just to substantiate these points, let me quote from a r ecent article by Paul Hirst, that established advocate of foundational disciplines: "Are the curricula of teacher education programs be ing sufficiently informed by research conducted under the new policies and pract ices? The answer is "certainly not". Initial teacher education programmes are now subject to a set of criteria promulgated by the Secretary of State for Education and require considerable practical preparation. There has, therefore, been a n inevitable decrease in the attention to theoretical matters in these programme s..." (1989, p. 272) He added: "Inservice teacher education is now concentrating s everely on the practical demands of new legislation... research has had little influ ence. Advanced study of a systematic kind is now much reduced." (p. 272) Amongst his conclusions and relevant to the argumen t deployed here is this statement: " is only in the closest collaboration with te achers and acting on their initiatives, that we can hope to maintain many of the areas of r esearch that interest us, and most of that may have to be done in spare time and witho ut significant resources "(Hirst, 1989, p. 272). Hirst, in short, is saying, and I agree with him, t hat the old foundational disciplines are no longer politically sustainable and that faculties of educa tion will need at long last to collaborate intimately with teachers. The problem is how to mai ntain a balance between theory, critique and practical matters. If we cannot strike such a balan ce I think the main mission and the over-arching rationale for faculties of education w ill begin to collapse. The particular problem that I want to focus on in t he rest of this paper is how to maintain, revive and establish a theoretical mission within t his new terrain and in so doing bring new strength and vigour to faculties of education in th eir work with teachers. I believe this means looking closely at the potential collaboration betw een teachers and externally located researchers in faculties of education. I think the best mechani sm for improving practice is if teachers, in an ongoing way, research and reflect upon their own pr actice. This may not seem as self-evident as I've stated it: many great teachers would say "why the hell should I need research, I can teach already". They are right at one level, but let me d econstruct this statement because I suspect many teachers would go along with it. Firstly, when they say research is irrelevant in th is statement, they mean the kind of gobbledegook written by one professor for another, which has been all too regrettably common. If we had proper collaborative research, teachers w ould not be able to make this kind of statement. Secondly, let me look closely at the "gr eat teacher" notion. I have studied a lot of them over the years. They all have one thing in common: whilst they may say they are uninterested in research, in their own lives and in their teaching they constantly reflect upon and refine their practice. They try new things, work at what is not working well, and generally think through the problems that face them. In a word, in an ongoing w ay, they research their own practice. Now you might say that since they do this and are great teachers, obviously there is no place for externallylocated researchers to aid their ongoin g research. And you might well be right. But


5 of 15even if you were, it still leaves the 95% of us who are not great teachers looking for help. For us, I believe a collaborative relationship which focuse s on researching our own "life and work" is the most hopeful avenue for enhanced professional devel opment. So what I'm trying to do is to define what the coll aborative relationship would look like between teachers and externally-located researchers in faculties of education. I want to argue that a narrow focus on "practice" in collaborating on re search, a panacea that is politically popular at the moment and very much on the provincial agenda i n Ontario, will not take us too far. This is for two reasons: 1Practice is a good deal more than the technical things we do in classrooms; it relates to who we are, to our whole approach to life. Here I m ight quote C.Wright Mills talking about scholars but it's as relevant to any member of the community. He said "the most admirable thinkers within the scholarly community... do not s plit their work from their lives. They seem to take both too seriously to allow such disassociatio n and they want to use each for the enrichment of others". So I would want to argue for a form of research which links the analysis of the teacher's life and work together. 2The interactive practices of our classrooms are subject to constant change. Often in the form of new government guidelines, new initiatives such as in Ontario at the moment, destreaming, these initiatives outside the classroo m, what I call preactive actions, set crucial parameters for interactive classroom practice. Prea ctive action affects interactive possibilities. In their collaborative research, teachers as researche rs and external researchers need to focus on both the preactive and the interactive. What this m eans in short is that we need to look at the full context in which teachers' practice is negotiated, not just at the technical implementation of certain phenomena within the classroom. If we stay with the latter definition then our research is inevitably going to involve the mere implementation of initiatives which are generated elsewhere. That in itself is a form of political qu ietism and as such, I think, has to be deplored. Whilst the value position of this paper is that the teacher should become a researcher or an intellectual (not necessarily of the transformative kind but certainly formative), I have some problems with phraseology. The "teacher as researcher" slogan seems to me to c arry a number of problems. Firstly in implying that the teacher becomes the researcher of his or her own practice, it frees the researchers/intellectuals in the academy from clear responsibility in this process. On the contrary, I think such people have a primary, and much neglec ted, responsibility for sponsoring and sustaining the teacher as researcher. Associated with this, I am against the notion that the focus of the teacher as researcher should be mainly upon practice. This is because the parameters to practice, whether they be biographical or political, range over a very wide t errain. To narrow the focus to "practice as defined" is to make the focus of research a victim of historical circumstances, particularly political tendencies. At the moment, the New Right is seeking to turn the teacher's practice into that of a technician, a routinized and trivialised deliverer of predesigned packages. To accept those definitions and to focus on "practice" so def ined is to play into their hands. Now of course the teacher as researcher of practice will ideally seek to critique and transcend such definitions of practice. But that is not my point. By focusing on practice in this way, the initiative for defining our starting point passes to politicians and bureaucrats. It would, I think, sponsor more autonomous and critical researc h if we adopted a wider lens of inquiry for the teacher as researcher. The lens of inquiry I want to sketch out would focu s on the teacher's work and practice in the full context of the teacher's life. Some time ago, I became convinced that the study of teachers' lives was central to the study of curriculum and schooling. In reflecting on the development of my conviction two


6 of 15episodes stand out. Were this merely a reminiscence of personal conversion it would be of little interest, but the two episodes do speak to a number of salient issues in the argument for greatly extended study of teachers' lives. The first episode took place in the year of postg raduate certification when I was training to be a teacher. I returned to spend the day with a teacher at my secondary school who had been a major inspiration to me, a mentor. He was a radical Welshman. Academically brilliant, he had a B.Sc. in Economics and a Ph.D. in History. He was o pen, humorous, engaging, stimulating--a superb and popular teacher. But he faced me with a paradox because when the sch ool changed from a grammar school to a comprehensive, it was he who opposed all the c urriculum reforms which sought to broaden the educational appeal of the school to wider socia l groups. He was implacably conservative and traditionalist on this, and so far as I know only t his, issue. But he, it should be remembered, was a man who had personally visited the factory to whi ch I had gone after leaving school early at fifteen. He had implored me to return to school. He had spoken then of his commitment to public schooling as an avenue to working class emancipatio n. He no doubt saw me, a badlybehaved working-class pupil, as some sort of test case. I k new personally then that he was very deeply concerned to keep working-class pupils in school. S o why did he oppose all those curriculum reforms which had that objective? During the day back visiting my old school, I conti nually probed him on this issue. At first he stonewalled, giving a series of essentially noncommittal responses, but at the end of the day, in the pub, over a beer, he opened up. Yes, of cour se he was mainly concerned with disadvantaged pupils; yes, of course that's why he' d come to the factory to drag me back to school. Yes, he was politically radical and yes, he had always voted Labour. But, and here I quote: "You don't understand my relationship to the school and to teaching. My centre of gravity is not here at all. It's in the community, in the home--that's where I exist, that's where I put my effort now. For me the school is nine to five, I go through the motions." In short, in the school he sought to minimise his c ommitment, he opposed any reform which dragged him into more work. His centre of gravity w as elsewhere. The point I'm making is that to understand teacher development and curriculum development and to tailor it accordingly we need to know a great deal more about teachers' priorities. We need in short to know more about tea chers' lives. The second episode began in the late 1970s. I was i nterested in some work on folk music being conducted at the University of Leeds. At the same time, I was exploring some themes for an ethnography conference that was coming up at the St. Hilda's in Oxford. The work of a folklorist Pegg suddenly opened up again the line o f argument which I had been pondering since 1970. Pegg wrote: "The right to select lies not with the folklorist ( "Sorry old chap, can't have that--it's not a folk song"), but with the singer. Today's col lector must have no preconceptions. His job is to record a people's mus ic, whether it is a traditional ballad or a hymn or a musical song or last week's p op hit!" With this basic attitude comes another revelation: "I began to realise that, for me, the people who sa ng the songs were more important than the songs themselves. The song is only a small part of the singer's life and the life was usually very fascinating. There was no way I felt I could understand the


7 of 15songs without knowing something about the life of t he singer, which does not seem to apply in the case of most folklorists. They are quite happy to find material which fits into a preconceived canon and leave it at that I had to know what people thought about the songs, what part they played in their liv es and in the lives of the community." (Goodson & Walker, 1991, p. 138) A similar point is made by the folksong collector R obin Morton: "The opinion grew in me that it was in the singer t hat the song becomes relevant. Analyzing it in terms of motif, or rhyming structur e, or minute variation becomes, in my view, sterile if the one who carries the particu lar song is forgotten. We have all met the scholar who can talk for hours in a very le arned fashion about folksongs and folklore in general, without once mentioning the si nger. Bad enough to forget the social context, but to ignore the individual contex t castrates the song. As I got to know the singers, so I got to know and understand t heir songs more fully." (Goodson & Walker, 1991, p. 139) The preoccupation with "the singer, not the song" n eeds to be seriously tested in our studies of curriculum and schooling. What Pegg and Morton say about folklorists and implicitly about the way their research is received by those t hey research, could be said also about most educational research. The project I am recommending is essentially one of reconceptualising educational research so as to assure that "the teacher's voice" is heard, heard loudly, heard articulately. In thi s respect the most hopeful way forward is, I think, t o build upon notions of the "self-monitoring teacher", "the teacher as researcher", the teacher as "extended professional". For instance, in the early 1970's at The Centre for Applied Research in Education at the University of East Anglia in England, a good deal of work was conducted into how to operationalise this concept. Perhaps the most interesting developments were within the Ford Teaching Project conducted by John Elliott and Clem Adelman in the period 1973-75. They sought to rehabilitate the "action-research" mode pioneered by Kurt Lewin in the post-war period. In the interim period educational action research had fallen into decline. Carr and Kemmis, who have done a good deal to extend and popularise the concept, give a number of reasons for the resur gence of action-research: "First, there was the demand from within an increas ingly professionalised teacher force for a research role, based on the notion of t he extended professional investigating his or her own practice. Second, ther e was the perceived irrelevance to the concerns of these practitioners of much contemp orary educational research. Third, there had been a revival of interest in "the practical" in curriculum, following the work of Schwab (1969, pp. 1-24) and others on practical deliberation". Fourth, action research was assisted by the rise of the "ne w wave" methods in educational research and evaluation with their emphasis on part icipants' perspectives and categories in shaping educational practices and sit uations. These methods place the practitioners at centre stage in the educational re search process and recognize the crucial significance of actors' understandings in s haping educational action. From the role of critical informant helping an "outsider" re searcher, it is but a short step for the practitioner to become a self-critical research er into her or his own practice. Fifth, the accountability movement galvanized and p oliticized practitioners. In response to the accountability movement, practition ers have adopted the self-monitoring role as a proper means of justifyin g practice and generating sensitive critiques of the working conditions in which their practice is conducted. Sixth, there was increasing solidarity in the teaching professio n in response to the public


8 of 15criticism which has accompanied the post-expansion educational politics of the 1970s and 1980s; this, too, has prompted the organi zation of support networks of concerned professionals interested in the continuin g developments of education even though the expansionist tide has turned. And, final ly, there is the increased awareness of action research itself, which is perce ived as providing an understandable and workable approach to the improve ment of practice through critical selfreflection." (Carr & Kemmis, 1986, p p. 166-7) The focus of action-research has however tended to be very practice-oriented. In introducing a survey of action-research for instanc e Carr and Kemmis note: "A range of practices have been studied by educatio nal action-researchers and some examples may suffice to show how they have used act ion research to improve their practices, their understandings of these practices, and the situations in which they work." (ibid.) Not surprisingly with the notion of an extended pro fessional in mind workers have "used action-research to improve their practice". Other d evelopments in teacher education have similarly focused on practice. The work of Clandini n and of Connelly has argued in innovative and interesting ways that would seek to understand teachers' personal practical knowledge. The addition of the personal aspect in this formulation is a welcome move forward, hinting as it does at the importance of biographical perspectives. But again the personal is being linked irrevocably to practice. It is as if the teacher is his or her practice. For teacher educators, such specificity o f focus is understandable, but I wish to argue that a broader perspective will achieve more: not solely in terms of our understandings but ultimatel y in ways that feed back into changes in practical knowledge. In short what I am saying is that it does not follo w logically or psychologically that to improve practice we must initially and immediately focus on practice. Indeed I shall argue the opposite point of view. Taking the "teacher as researcher" and "actionres earch" as expressing defensible value positions and viable starting points, I want to arg ue for a broadened sense of purpose. In particular I am worried about a collaborative mode of research which seeks to give full equality and stature to the teacher but which employs as its initial and predominant focus the practice of the teacher. It is, I believe, a profoundly unpromi sing point of entry from which to promote a collaborative enterprise. For the university resear cher, aspiring to collaborative and equalitarian partnership, it may seem quite unproblematic, for t he teacher it might seem far less so. In fact it may seem to the teacher that the starting point for collaboration focuses on the maximum point of vulnerability. We must, I think, constantly remind ourselves how d eeply uncertain and anxious most of us are about our work as teachers whether in classr ooms or in (far less contested) lecture halls. These are often the arenas of greatest anxiety and insecurity-as well as, occasionally, achievement. Hence I wish to argue that to place th e teachers' classroom practice at the centre of the action for action-researchers is to put the mos t exposed and problematic aspect of the teachers' world at the centre of scrutiny and negot iation. In terms of strategy, both personally and politically, I think it is a mistake to do this. I say it is a mistake to do this-and this may seem a paradox-particularly if the wish is to ultimately seek reflection about and change in the teachers' practice. A more valuable and less vulnerable entry point wou ld be to examine teachers' work in the context of the teacher's life. Much of the emerging study in this area indicates that this focus allows a rich flow of dialogue and data. Moreover, the focus may (and I stress may) allow teachers greater authority and control in collabora tive research than has often appeared to be the


9 of 15case with practice-oriented study. What I am assert ing here is that, particularly in the world of teacher development, the central ingredient so far missing is the teacher's voice. Primarily the focus has been on the teacher's practice, almost th e teacher as practice. What is needed is a focus that listens above all to the person at whom "devel opment" is aimed. This means strategies should be developed which facilitate, maximize and in a real sense legislate the capturing of the teacher's voice.The Teacher's Life and Work Bringing substance and strategy together points us in a new direction for reconceptualising educational research and development. In the first section, I provided two somewhat episodic arguments for seeking to understand teachers' lives as part of the educational research and development enterprise. In the second section, I ar gued that the "teacher as researcher" and "action research" modes were productive and generat ive ways forward but that the initial and immediate focus on practice was overstated and unde sirable. Strategically a broader focus on life and work is hereby recommended. Hence for substanti ve and strategic reasons I would argue for a broadening of focus to allow detailed scrutiny of the teacher's life and work.Broadening Our Data Base for Studying Teaching So far I have argued in somewhat anecdotal fashion that data on teachers' lives is an important factor for our educational research studi es. I have argued that strategically this is desirable; so as to involve teachers as researchers and to develop a collaborative mode. But there is also a substantive reason. The primary reason is that in my experience when talking to teachers about issues of curriculum development, subject tea ching, school governance and general school organisation, they constantly import data on their own lives into the discussion. This I take to be prima facie evidence that teachers themselves judge such issues to be of major importance. One of the reasons that these data have not been much u sed however is that researchers edit out such data viewing it as too "personal", "idiosyncratic" or "soft". It is, in short, yet another example of the selective use of the "teacher's voice". The res earcher only hears what he/she wants to hear and knows will sound good when replayed to the research community. There may of course be perfectly valid reasons for not employing data on teachers' lives in our educational research studies. But this would re quire a sequence of reasoning to show why such data were irrelevant or of no importance. The normal research strategy is however to simply purge such data. I have not come across any account s which give reasoned explanations as to why such data are not employed. The most common-sen sical explanation seems to be that data on teachers' lives simply do not fit in with existi ng research paradigms. If this is the case then it is the paradigms that are at fault, not the value a nd quality of this kind of data. The arguments for employing data on teachers' lives are substantial, but given the predominance of existing paradigms should be spelt out: 1In the research on schools in which I have been involved-covering a wide range of different research foci and conceptual matrixes-t he consistency of teachers talking about their own lives in the process of explaining their policy and practice has been striking. Were this only a personal observation it would be worthless but ag ain and again in talking to other researchers they have echoed their point. To give one example: David Hargreaves in researching for Deviance in Classrooms noted in talking about the b ook that again and again teachers had imported autobiographical comments into their expla nations. He was much concerned in retrospect by the speed with which such data had be en excised when writing up the research. The


10 of 15assumption, very much the conventional wisdom, was that such data were too "personal", too "idiosyncratic", too "soft" for a fully-fledged pie ce of social science research. Of course in the first instance (and some cases the last instance) it is true that personal data can be irrelevant, eccentric and essentially redund ant. But the point that needs to be grasped is that these features are not the inevitable corollar y of that which is personal. Moreover that which is personal at the point of collection may not rema in personal. After all a good deal of social science is concerned with the collection of a range of often personal insights and events and the elucidation of more collective and generalizable pr offerings and processes. The respect for the autobiographical, for "the life ", is but one side of a concern to elicit the teacher's voice. In some senses, like anthropology, this school of qualitative educational research is concerned to listen to what the teacher says, an d to respect and deal seriously with those data which the teacher imports into accounts. This is to invert the balance of proof. Conventionally those data which do not serve the researcher's inte rests and foci are junked. In this model the data the teacher provides have a more sacred property an d are only dispensed with after painstaking proof of irrelevance and redundancy. Listening to the teacher's voice should teach us th at the autobiographical, "the life", is of substantial concern when teachers talk of their wor k. And at a commonsensical level I find this essentially unsurprising. What I do find surprising if not frankly unconscionable, is that for so long researchers have ruled this part of the teache rs' account out as irrelevant data. 2Life experiences and background are obviously k ey ingredients of the person that we are, of our sense of self. To the degree that we in vest our "self" in our teaching, experience and background therefore shape our practice. A common f eature in many teachers' accounts of their background is the appearance of a favourite teacher who substantially influenced the person as a young school pupil. They often report that "it was this person who first sold me on teaching"; "it was sitting in her classroom when I first decided I wanted to be a teacher". In short such people provide a "role model" and in addition they most pr obably influence the subsequent vision of desirable pedagogy as well as possibly choice of su bject specialism. Many other ingredients of background are important in the teacher's life and practice. An upbringing in a working-class environment may for i nstance provide valuable insights and experience when teaching pupils from a similar back ground. I once observed a teacher with a working-class background teach a class of comprehen sive pupils in a school in the East End of London. He taught using the local cockney vernacula r and his affinity was a quite startling aspect of his success as a teacher. In my interview I spok e about his affinity and he noted that it was "coz I come from round 'ere don't I?". Background a nd life experience were then a major aspect of his practice. But so they would be in the case o f middle-class teachers teaching children from the working-class or teachers of working-class orig ins teaching middle-class children. Background is an important ingredient in the dynami c of practice (See Lortie, 1976). Of course class is just one aspect, as are gender o r ethnicity. Teachers' backgrounds and life experiences are idiosyncratic and unique and m ust be explored therefore in their full complexity. Treatment of gender issues has often be en inadequate (Sikes, Measor & Woods, 1985). Recent work is more encouraging --see Nelson (forthcoming) and Casey (forthcoming). 3The teacher's life style both in and outside sch ool, his/her latent identities and cultures, impact on views of teaching and on practice. Becker and Geer's (1971) work on latent identities and cultures provide a valuable theoretical basis. Life style is of course often a characteristic element in certain cohorts; for instance, work on t he generation of sixties teachers would be of great value. In a recent study of one teacher focus ing on his life style Walker and myself stated: "...the connections between Youth Culture and the c urriculum reform movement of the sixties is more complex than we first thought. For Ron Fisher there definitely is a


11 of 15connection, he identifies strongly with youth cultu re and feels that to be important in his teaching. But despite his attraction to rock mu sic and teenage life styles it is the school he has become committed to, almost against h is own sense of direction. Involvement in innovation, for Ron at least, is not simply a question of technical involvement, but touches significant facets of is p ersonal identity. This raises the question for the curriculum developer, what would a project look like if it explicitly set out to change the teachers rather than the curr iculum? How would you design a project to appeal to the teacher-as-person rather t han to the teacher-as-educator? What would be the effects and consequences of imple menting such a design?" (Goodson & Walker, 1991) This I think shows how work in this area begins to force a reconceptualization of models of teacher development. We move in short from the teac her-as-practice to the teacher-as-person as our starting point for development. 4Focus on the life cycle will generate insights therefore into the unique elements of teaching. Indeed so unique a characteristic would s eem an obvious starting point for reflection about the teachers' world. Yet our research paradig ms face so frankly in other directions that there has been little work to date in this area. Fortunately work in other areas provides a very val uable framework. Some of Gail Sheehy's (1976, 1981) somewhat populist work in "Pa ssages" and "Pathfinders" is I think important. So also is the research work on which so me of her publications are based carried out by Levinson. His work, whilst regrettably focused o nly on men, does provide some very generative insights into how our perspectives at pa rticular stages in our life crucially affect our professional work. Take for instance the case study of John Barnes, a university biologist. Levinson is writing about his "dream" of himself as a front-rank prizewinning biological researcher: "Barnes's Dream assumed greater urgency as he appro ached 40. He believed that most creative work in science is done before then. A conversation with his father's lifelong friend around this time made a lasting imp ression on him. The older man confided that he had by now accepted his failure to become a "legal star" and was content to be a competent and respected tax lawyer. He had decided that stardom is not synonymous with the good life; it was "perfectl y all right to be second best." At the time, however, Barnes was not ready to scale do wn his own ambition. Instead, he decided to give up the chairmanship and devote hims elf fully to his research. He stepped down from the chairmanship as he approa ched 41, and his project moved into its final phase. This was a crucial time for him, the culmination of years of striving. For several months, one distraction af ter another claimed his attention and heightened the suspense. He became the father o f a little boy, and that same week was offered a prestigious chair at Yale. Flatt ered and excited, he felt that this was his "last chance for a big offer." But in the e nd Barnes said no. He found that he could not make a change at this stage of his work. Also, their ties to family and friends, and their love of place, were now of much greater importance to him and Ann. She said: "The kudos almost got him, but now w e are both glad we stayed." (Levinson, 1979, p. 267) This quotation I think shows how definitions of our professional location and of our career direction can only be arrived at by detailed unders tanding of people's lives. 5Likewise, career stages and career decisions ca n be analyzed in their own right. Work


12 of 15on teachers' lives and careers is increasingly comm anding attention in professional development workshops and courses. For instance, The Open Unive rsity in England now uses our Teachers Lives and Careers book (Ball & Goodson, 1992) as on e of its course set books. This is symptomatic of important changes in the way that pr ofessional courses are being reorganised to allow concentration on the perspective of teachers careers. Besides the range of career studies in Teachers Liv es and Careers, a range of new research is beginning to examine this neglected aspect of te achers' professional lives. The work of Sikes, Measor and Woods (1985) has provided valuable new i nsights into how teachers construct and view their careers in teaching, as has the work of Michael Huberman. 6Moreover, the new work on teachers' careers poi nts to the fact that there are critical incidents in teachers lives and specifically in the ir work which may crucially affect perception and practice. Certainly work on beginning teachers has pointed to the importance of certain incidents in molding teachers' styles and practices Lacey's work has pointed to the effects on teachers' strategies and the work of Woods, Pollard Hargreaves and Knowles (forthcoming) has further elucidated the relationship to evolving tea cher strategies. Other work on critical incidents in teachers' lives can confront important themes contextualised within a full life perspective. For instance, Kathleen Casey (1988) has employed "life history narratives" to understand the phenome non of teacher drop-out, specifically female and activist teacher drop-out. Her work is exceptio nally illuminating of this phenomenon which is currently receiving a great deal of essentially uncritical attention given the problem of teacher shortages. Yet few of the countries at the hard edg e of teacher shortages have bothered to fund serious study of teachers' lives to examine and ext end our understanding of the phenomenon of teacher drop-outs. I would argue that only such an approach affords the possibility of extending our understanding. Likewise with many other major themes in teachers' work. The question of teacher stress and burn-out would, I believe, be best studied thro ugh life-history perspectives. Similarly the issue of effective teaching and the question of the take-up of innovations and new managerial initiatives could profit from this approach. Above all, in the study of teachers' working conditions this approach has a great deal to offer. 7Studies of teachers' lives might allow us to se e the individual in relation to the history of his or her time allowing us to view the intersec tion of the life history with the history of society thus illuminating the choices, contingencie s and options open to the individual. "Life histories" of schools, subjects and the teaching pr ofession would provide vital contextual background. The initial focus on the teachers' live s therefore would reconceptualise our studies of schooling and curriculum in quite basic ways. Essentially, collaborative study of teachers' lives at the levels mentioned constitutes a new way of viewing teacher development; a way which sho uld re-direct the power relations underpinning teachers' lives in significant and gen erative ways.Collaboration and Teacher Development Strategically I have argued that to promote the not ion of teachers as researchers and to develop an actionresearch modality where collabor ation with externally situated researchers was fostered, we need to avoid an immediate and pre dominant focus on practice. I have further argued that this focus on practice should, at least partially, be replaced by a focus on the teacher's life. What is at issue here seems to me almost anthropolo gical: we are looking for a point for teachers (as researchers) and externally located re searchers to "trade". Practice promises


13 of 15maximum vulnerability as the "trading point". This is a deeply unequal situation in which to begin to "trade," for it could be argued that the t eacher may already feel vulnerable and inferior in the face of a university researcher. Talking about his/her own life the teacher is, in t his specific sense, in a less immediately exposed situation; and the "exposure" can be more c arefully, consciously and personally controlled. (This is not, it should be noted, to ar gue that once again "exploitation" might not take place, nor that there are no longer major ethical q uestions to do with exposure.) But I think this starting point has substantive as well as strategic advantages. Some have already been listed, however, in terms of the "trade" between teacher/re searcher and external researcher, this focus seems to me to provide advantages. Much of the work that is emerging on teachers' live s throw up structural insights which locate the teacher's life within the deeply structu red and embedded environment of schooling (Goodson, forthcoming). This provides a prime "trad ing point" for the external researcher. For one of the valuable characteristics of a collaborat ion between teachers as researchers and external researchers is that it is a collaboration between t wo parties that are differentially located in structural terms. Each see the world through a diff erent prism of practice and thought. This valuable difference may provide the external resear cher with a possibility to offer back goods in "the trade". The teacher/researcher offers data and insights; the external researcher, in pursuing glimpses of structure in different ways, may now al so bring data and insights. The terms of trade, in short, look favourable. In such conditions colla boration may at last begin. I noted earlier that this possible route to collabo ration does not suspend issues of ethics and exploitation. This is above all because the collabo ration between teacher/researcher and external researcher takes place in an occupational terrain w hich is itself inequitably structured. In terms of power, the external researcher still holds many adv antages. Moreover the conditions of university careers positively exhort researchers to exploit re search data: the requirements of publications and peer review have their own dynamics. So whatever the favourable aspects of a focus on te achers' lives we must remain deeply watchful. For if the teacher's practice was a vulne rable focus, the teacher's life is a deeply intimate, indeed intensive, focus. More than ever p rocedural guidelines are necessary over questions relating to the ownership and publication of the data. These issues themselves must be conceived of in terms of a collaboration in which e ach party has clear rights and in this case the teacher's power of veto should be agreed on early a nd implemented, where necessary, late.ReferencesBall, S.J. & Goodson, I.F. Teachers Lives and Careers. London: Open University Press, set book, 3rd Edition, 1992.Becker, H.S. & Geer, B. "Latent Culture: A Note on the Theory of Latent Social Roles" In School and Society: A Sociological Reader, edited by B.R. Cosin, et al. p. 56-60. London: Rou tledge and Kegan Paul, 1971.Carr, W. & Kemmis, S. Becoming Critical: Education Knowledge and Action R esearch. London and Philadelphia: Falmer, 1986.Casey, K. "Why do Progressive Women Activists Leave Teaching? Theory, Methodology and Politics in Life History Research". In Studying Teachers' Lives, edited by I.F. Goodson. London: Routledge, forthcoming, 1992.Casey, K. Teacher as Author: Life History Narrative s of Contemporary Women Teachers Working for Social Change, Ph.D. dissertation, Madi son: University of Wisconsin, 1988.


14 of 15 Clifford, G.J. and Guthrie, J.W. Ed School: A Brief for Professional Education. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988.Greene, Maxine. "Retrieving the Language of Compass ion: The Education Professor in Search of Community". Teacher College Record. 92 (Summer 1991), pp. 541555. Goodson, I.F. ed. Studying Teachers' Lives. London: Routledge, forthcoming, 1992. Goodson, I.F. The Teacher's Life and Work. New York: Teacher's College Press, forthcoming. Goodson, I. & Walker, R. Biography, Identity and Schooling. London: Falmer Press, 1991. Hirst, Paul, H. "Implication of Government Funding Policies for Research on Teaching and Teacher Education: England and Wales". Teaching & Teacher Education. 5 (1989), p.J272. Knowles, J. G. "Models for Understanding Preserving and Beginning Teachers' Biographies: Illustrations for Case Studies". In Studying Teachers' Lives, edited by Ivor Goodson. London: Routledge, forthcoming, 1992.Levinson, D.J. The Seasons of a Man's Life. New York: Ballantine Books, 1979. Lortie, D. School Teacher of Sociological Study. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1976. Mills, C. Wright. Power, Politics and People. New York: Oxford University Press, 1979. Nelson, M. "Using Oral Histories to Reconstruct the Experiences of Women Teachers in Vermont, 19001950". In Studying Teachers' Lives, edited by I.F. Goodson. London: Routledge, forthcoming, 1992.Schwab, J.J. "The practical: A language for curricu lum". School Review 78 (1969), p. 1-24. Schwab, J.J. (1978) "The Practical: A Language for Curriculum". In Science, Curriculum and Liberal Education, edited by I. Westbury and N. Wilkof. Chicago: Univ ersity of Chicago Press, 1978.Sheehy, G. Pathfinders. London: Sidgwich and Jackson, 1981. Sheehy, G. Passages: Predictable Crises of Adult Life, New York: Dutton, 1976. Sikes, P., Measor, L. & Woods, P. Teachers Careers. London and Philadelphia: Falmer Press, 1985.Veblen, T. The Higher Learning in America. Reprint of 1918 edition. New York: Hill and Wang, 1962.Copyright 1993 by the Education Policy Analysis ArchivesEPAA can be accessed either by visiting one of its seve ral archived forms or by subscribing to the LISTSERV known as EPAA at (To sub scribe, send an email letter to whose sole contents are SUB EPAA y our-name.) As articles are published by the Archives they are sent immediately to the EPAA subscribers and simultaneously archived in three forms.


15 of 15Articles are archived on EPAA as individual files under the name of the author a nd the Volume and article number. For example, the article by Stephen Kemmis in Volume 1, Number 1 of the Archives can be retrieved by sending an e-mail letter to LISTSERV@a and making the single line in the letter rea d GET KEMMIS V1N1 F=MAIL. For a table of contents of the entire ARCHIVES, send the following e-mail message to INDEX EPAA F=MAIL, tha t is, send an e-mail letter and make its single line read INDEX EPAA F=MAIL.The World Wide Web address for the Education Policy Analysis Archives is Education Policy Analysis Archives are "gophered" at To receive a publication guide for submitting artic les, see the EPAA World Wide Web site or send an e-mail letter to and include the single l ine GET EPAA PUBGUIDE F=MAIL. It will be sent to you by return e-mail. General questions about ap propriateness of topics or particular articles may be addressed to the Editor, Gene V Glass, Glass@asu.ed u or reach him at College of Education, Arizona Sta te University, Tempe, AZ 85287-2411. (602-965-2692)Editorial Board John CovaleskieSyracuse UniversityAndrew Coulson Alan Davis University of Colorado--DenverMark E. Thomas F. Green Syracuse Alison I. Arlen Gullickson Ernest R. Aimee Craig B. Howley u56e3@wvnvm.bitnet William Richard M. Jaeger Benjamin Thomas Dewayne Mary P. Les Susan Bobbitt Anne L. Hugh G. Richard C. Anthony G. Rud Dennis Jay Robert Robert T.


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