School of Education
University of Bath
Bath, BA2 7AY
On 1st August 1997, the School of Education of the University of Bath ceased to exist. The School became a Department of Education within the new Faculty of Humanities and Social Science. Hence, the Action Research in Educational Theory Research Group of the School of Education is no more. When the future of the group within the new Department and Faculty is unclear it seems timely to review our contributions to the development of action research and educational theory in the School of Education. I will then speculate on how our educational action research programme could be taken forward and relate this process to my professional identity as a university researcher and teacher. I would like to place our achievements within three related contexts: within a global community of educational researchers; within a vision for the future for our educational action research programmes; within the movement to enhance professionalism in teaching in England and Wales through the creation of a General Teaching Council and a College of Teacher/Educators.
While this last communication as convenor of the group in the School of Education is written with the members of the Action Research in Educational Theory and the Kingston Hill Action Research groups in mind, it is intended for a wider audience at this BERA Symposium.
For Web Browsers interested in educational action research and educational theory this booklet prepared for the Symposium can be downloaded from:
Action Researchers Educational Theories and their Politics of Educational Knowledge 1984-1997: Reconstructing Educational Theory and Constructing Educational Knowledge
REVIEWING PAST ACHIEVEMENTS IN RECONSTRUCTING EDUCATIONAL THEORY AND DEVELOPING NEW, LIVING STANDARDS OF EDUCATIONAL JUDGEMENT FOR VALIDATING CLAIMS TO EDUCATIONAL KNOWLEDGE.
Evidence to substantiate the claims that :
i) the self-studies of educational action researchers in the M.A., M.Phil & Ph.D. programmes at Bath and Kingston Universities have reconstructed educational theories in a way which can be directly related to the processes of improving the quality of education within our schools, colleges and universities.
ii) the living, educational standards of judgement associated with this reconstruction of educational theories can be shown to establish new forms of educational knowledge, in the accredited Ph.D., M.Phil., M.A. and MEd, research programmes of: Brian Green, Don Foster, Martin Forrest, Kevin Eames, Andy Larter, Margaret Jensen, Ron King, Ron Adams Mary Gurney, Jean McNiff, Paul Denley, Chris Walton, Paul Hayward, Peggy Kok, C.C. Lin, Peter Mellett, Moyra Evans, Jacqui Hughes, Moira Laidlaw, Erica Holley.
RELATING THESE PAST ACHIEVEMENTS TO PRESENT ACADEMIC DEBATES
DEVELOPING EDUCATIONAL ACTION RESEARCH PROGRAMMES ASSOCIATED WITH THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION OF BATH UNIVERSITY FROM 1 AUGUST 1997: Developing my PROFESSIONAL IDENTITY AS A UNIVERSITY TEACHER AND EDUCATIONAL RESEARCHER in sharing the educational action research programme of: James Finnegan, Terri Austin, Ben Cunningham, Pat DArcy, Hilary Shobbrook, Mike Bosher, Jackie Delong, Seb Bees, Cathie Woodward.
1) With Professor Pam Lomax, and the Kingston Hill Action Research Group at Kingston University with : Linda Cutis, Frances Hardy, John Loftus, Marian Nicholas, Michael Luetchford, Zoe Parker, Terry Hewitt.
2) The Centre for Action Research in Professional Practice (CARPP),
University of Bath, Director Dr. Peter Reason with: Cathy Aymer, Agnes Bryan, Gill Colman, Diane Francis,Peter Garrett, Anne Garvey, Ian Gee, Suzie Morel, Paul Murray (transferring to Education), Wendy Payne, Sian Thomas, Nicky Anyassor, James Hardiman, Mary Hartog, Jane Jacks Robin Ladkin, Sue Porter, Elizabeth Capewll, Rae Chapman, Eden Charles, Andrew Crocker, Maxine Donnelly, Matthew Ganda, Ian Iles, Mark Kane, Alan Kellas, Kethleen King, Geoff Mead, William Mistral, Margaret Page, Paul Roberts, Jacqui Scholes-Rhodes, Kemal Taruc, Judith Williams.
3) Tom Russell, Jackie Delong and the developing relationships in Ontario
4) Developing relationships in the American Educational Research Association
What has this got to do with the creation of a General Teaching Council and a College of Teacher Educators?
Given the new culture of intimacy which we have seen expressed over the past two weeks since the death of Diana Spencer, permit me to enter this culture by acknowledging my Mothers 83 Birthday today. Im sure she will recognise the enthusiasm for life and education shown my colleagues whose work is described below. It is also the week of my 30th Wedding Anniversary and the 30th Anniversary of my first day as teacher at Langdon Park School in Tower Hamlets and the week in which Myra Mculloch, a pro vice-chancellor of Reading University and a loving friend of Joan, our daughter, Rebecca and our son, Jonathan, passed away.
Presenting this work at BERA 1997 evokes the memory of another anniversary. It is the 20th anniversary of my first attendance at the BERA 1977 conference where I heard Brian Simons (1978) Presidential Address in which he urged educational researchers to focus on education itself. So, having acknowledged the importance of the personal in the professional here is the abstract of our proposal for our symposium which I do hope fulfils Brian Simons concern that we should focus on education itself:
Action Researchers Educational Theories and their Politics of Educational Knowledge 1984-1997: Reconstructing Educational Theory and Constructing Educational Knowledge
Ben Cunningham, University of Bath
Moyra Evans, Denbigh School/Kingston University
Pam Lomax, Kingston University
Zoe Parker, Kingston University
Jack Whitehead, University of Bath
Cathie Woodward, Anglia Polytechnic University
The above participants in the symposium will analyse the claim that the self-studies of educational action researchers in the M.A., M.Phil & Ph.D. programmes at Bath and Kingston Universities have reconstructed educational theories in a way which can be directly related to the processes of improving the quality of education within our schools, colleges and universities. It will also claim that the living, educational standards of judgement associated with this reconstruction of educational theories can be shown to establish new forms of educational knowledge.
How can we make our practice as teacher educators more effective?
Pamela Lomax, Zoe Parker & Moyra Evans.
During 1995-6, we worked as joint tutors to a group of eight experienced teachers who were undertaking action research projects for the final stage of an MA. We decided to engage in a collaborative action research project with the aim of
improving our own practice as teacher educators. We have reported the earlier st
ages of the research elsewhere (Lomax, Evans & Parker, 1996a; 1996b). We shared data relating to teaching the target group, including written reflections and
stories, taped lessons, teachers work and teacher feedback. In the Autumn 1996,
the teachers successfully presented their Dissertations for final examination. In this paper we use data taken from the teachers writing to explore whether the
teachers used the action research strategies that we attempted to model in our teaching. We will focus on four strategies:
* Seeing ourselves as learners
* Working from our value positions
* Writing stories as a basis for understanding our own practice better
* Involving our students as co-researchers.
How are we working together to reconstruct educational theories and knowledge in our educational enquiries? Ben Cunningham, Jack Whitehead, Cathie Woodward.
We have been working together for the past three years, supporting each other in our educational action enquiries as professional educators and action researchers. We will describe and explain our own educational development as we answer questions of the kind, How do I improve what I am doing?. The explanations constitute our living educational theories. We will place our enquiries in the context of our educative relationships as research supervisors, teacher educators and learners.
In responding to the above work of Lomax, Evans and Parker and also to Laidlaws (1996) Ph.D. Thesis on How can I create my own living educational theory as I offer you an account of my educational development? , we will show how we are using new, living standards of professional practice, judgement and learning in the creation of new forms of educational knowledge and educational theories. These standards will include spiritual, aesthetic, ethical, political, economic and use values and will draw on our psychological, sociological, philosophical and other insights from the disciplines of education. They will also require the use of educational multi-media presentations to communicate our meanings. We will show how our living educational theories can be directly related to the process of improving the quality of learning in our professional relationships and we will encourage audience participation in responding to the question, Should we all be working together to create a College of Teacher/Educators which could embrace the above views of educational theory and knowledge ?
REVIEWING PAST ACHIEVEMENTS IN RECONSTRUCTING EDUCATIONAL THEORY AND DEVELOPING NEW, LIVING STANDARDS OF EDUCATIONAL JUDGEMENT FOR VALIDATING CLAIMS TO EDUCATIONAL KNOWLEDGE.
Evidence to substantiate the claims that :
i) the self-studies of educational action researchers in the M.A., M.Phil & Ph.D. programmes at Bath and Kingston Universities have reconstructed educational theories in a way which can be directly related to the processes of improving the quality of education within our schools, colleges and universities.
ii) the living, educational standards of judgement associated with this reconstruction of educational theories can be shown to establish new forms of educational knowledge.
One thing I have learnt about the communication of new ideas which require new ways of making sense on the part of the listener is that the new ideas take time to comprehend and that the listener needs to be open for such changes of mind. What this symposium might achieve is to stimulate your interest so that you will find it worth-while, spending some of your time, in evaluating the validity of the above knowledge-claims. One of the values of the Internet is that it permits the evidence I am talking about to be accessed and hence the claims to be evaluated.
Permit me to begin with the delight I experienced between June 1996 and June 1997 when five members of the Action Research in Educational Theory Group graduated with their research degrees from the Universities of Bath and Kingston. The dates refer to the year of submission. The examiners are included to show the range and status of the legitimators of the action research accounts. The abstracts of each of these theses will be presented later. In any claim to have made a distinctive and original contribution to knowledge it is important to communicate clearly the nature of the standards of judgement which can be used to test the validity of the claim. I characterise these standards in terms of spiritual, aesthetic, ethical, political, economic and use values. These is also the additional and traditional standard of drawing on our psychological, sociological, philosophical and other insights from the disciplines of education. Before I outline my understanding of the nature of these standards let me introduce you to the research programmes of educational action researchers whose work has been legitimated for Ph.D. and M.Phil. degrees:
Eames, K. (1995) How do I, as a teacher and educational action-researcher, describe and explain the nature of my professional knowledge? Ph.D. Thesis, University of Bath. Accessible from the Web at http://www.bath.ac.uk/~edsajw
Graduated, June 1996.
Professor David Sims, Brunel University,
Professor Chris Day, Nottingham University
Hughes, J. (1996) Action Planning and Assessment in Guidance Contexts: How can I understand and support these processes while working with colleagues in further education colleges and career service provision. Ph.D. Thesis, University of Bath.
Graduated December 1996
Professor Michael Bassey, Executive Secretary of the British Educational Research Association
Professor Ian Jamieson, School of Education, University of Bath.
Evans, M. (1995) An action research enquiry into reflection in action as part of my role as a deputy headteacher. Ph.D. Thesis, University of Kingston; http://www.bath.ac.uk/~edsajw
Professor Jean Rudduck of Cambridge University;
Professor Michael Bassey, Executive Secretary of the British Educational Research Association.
Graduated February 1997
Internal Examiner; Dr. Nick Selley
Holley, E. (1997) How do I as a teacher researcher contribute to the development of living educational theory through an exploration of my values in my professional practice? M.Phil. Thesis, University of Bath. Accessible from the Web at http://www.bath.ac.uk/~edsajw
Graduated June 1997
Dr. Tony Ghaye Reader in Educational Research of Worcester College of Higher Education
Dr. Paul Denley
Laidlaw. M. (1996) How can I create my own living educational theory as I offer you an account of my educational development? Ph.D. Thesis, University of Bath. Accessible from the Web at http://www.bath.ac.uk/~edsajw
Graduated June 1997
Professor Mowenna Griffiths of Nottingham Trent University,
Professor Richard Winter of Anglia Polytechnic University
My delight in the graduation of these researchers was related to the personal affirmation I sensed in each individual, that they had produced something worth-while for themselves and for others. I also felt affirmed myself, in that each practitioner-researcher acknowledged the value of my influence and ideas on their own research. I felt this most profoundly in the way they each found their own unique form of representation for the narrative of their professional learning. I also felt affirmed in the way they studied their own learning as a singularity (Bassey 1995) and explicated the standards of judgement which they used to test the validity of their claims to educational knowledge. They have demonstrated a capacity to listen to their pupils and colleagues in the ways highlighted by Rudduck, Chaplain and Wallace (1996). They have also shown how they make an educative response from their listening to what their pupils and colleagues say, with the intention of influencing their pupils learning and educational development.
The range of these examiners, together with the other examiners who have assessed the quality of the work described below, gives me hope that the living educational theory approaches I have been seeking to legitimate at the University of Bath are now secure in that it is a matter of public record that these research degrees, and others below, are in the Universitys Library and four of the complete theses are on the Internet for you to judge for yourselves.
Perhaps it is the romantic in me who still wants to consider the claims to have made substantial or original contributions to educational knowledge from a point of view in which a concern for truth resists the distorting influences of the political, economic and social power relations in which they are produced and legitimated. I do however, accept my colleague, Hugh Lauders (1997) point that No sophisticated theory of education can ignore its contribution to economic development. I also know from experience the importance of power relations in the process of legitimating what counts as educational knowledge. Indeed I have described how I have integrated, within my educational knowledge, an understanding of such relationships (Whitehead 1993) and I do accept Whittys (1997) point from his analysis of the economic influences of quasi-markets on education that:
... while some forms of devolution and choice may warrant further exploration as ways of realizing the legitimate aspirations of disadvantaged groups, they should not be seen as a panacea for the ills of society or as an alternative to broader sturggles for social justice.
Yet, I still work under what is perhaps a romantic illusion that there is a core to my understanding and knowledge which is fundamentally concerned with truth. I am thinking of a concern for truth which, in my imagination, in my I, is free from the distorting influence of hierarchical power relations. Like Lauren Resnick (1997) I believe that our national educational research association can provide a forum where this concern for truth can be expressed without the constraints of advocating a particular policy (Berliner, 1997; Resnick 1997). As this is my last communication as Convenor of the Action Research in Educational Theory Group from the School of Education, perhaps you will indulge me and permit me to relate to the world of ideas in relation to my productive life and certain death, (a definite social constraint!) where the central concern is for truth.
It is perhaps this concern for truth which leads me to focus on the nature of the standards of judgement which can be used to test the validity of the claims to eduational knowledge. I am thinking of standards which include spiritual, aesthetic, ethical, political, economic and use values and which draw on our psychological, sociological, philosophical and other insights from the disciplines of education.
It may sound strange to some when I say that I do not believe that paper texts presented at conferences like these can contain clear communications of the meanings of the appropriate standards of judgement for testing the claims to educational knowledge. I am thinking particularly of the spiritual, aesthetic and ethical values which are expressed in educative relationships and which are the focus of claims to educational knowledge. I do however believe that the new mult-media technologies are offering us better ways of representating our claims to educational knowledge. Consider what in my experience are the most difficult standards to express, define and communicate. I am thinking of the spiritual, aesthetic and ethical values in claims to educational knowledge. Let me just take spiritual values to illustrate what I mean. A week ago today, the country witnessed an expression of emotion related to the death of one woman, Diane Spencer. Two weeks ago the television coverage, watched by millions focused on images of individual relationships between Diana and aids patients, the homeless, landmine victims and families who had suffered bereavements. I want to focus my meanings of spiritual on the life-affirming energy which was expressed by millions last weekend as they demonstrated their identification with those relationships in which Diana expressed compassion, hope and suffering in her relationships with individuals and small groups. The images on the television enabled people to see and understand more than could be carried by words alone. Martin Buber (1927) showed how close a writer might get to communicating the spiritual quality in educative and other relationships in his poetically inspired work, I and Thou. Yet the direct apprehension through the medium of television, of the qualities of humanity through which people identify and commit themselves to their sense of community, could not be communicated through words alone. It is for this reason that I am exploring the use of multi-media forms of representation for the communication of claims to educational knowledge of educative relationships. I hope that next year marks the first multi-media presentation of Action Researchers Educational Theories and Their Politics of Educational Knowledge. After the abstracts from the educational action research programmes below, I will draw your attention to the particular strengths of each claim to knowledge in terms of the standards of judgement used to validate the claims to educational knowledge.
In part two I will be attempting to reconstruct my professional identity in relation to the development of an educational action research programme. The need to reconstruct my professional identity is because it can no longer be focused on convening a research group in the new Department of Education. In this process of transition I am aware of retaining the belief that I have made four original contributions to educational knowledge and theory. I am thinking of four ideas, described below, concerning the nature of explanations for the professional learning of individuals which contain I as a living contradiction in questions of the kind, How do I improve what I am doing?. As what I am about to say intimately concerns my choice of living educational theory to characterise my contribution to educational research, you might wish to consider most carefully the validity of the idea for you.
The peculiarity of the first person pronoun I, in language, is that, as Bakhtin says (Holquist ,1990) it cannot be seen, at least in the same way that nouns such as tree enables us to see the signified, or tree. I is a word that can mean nothing in general, for the reference it names can never be visualized in its consummated wholeness. But this invisibility of I is not mysterious:
It is invisible only at the level of system. At the level of performance, in the event of an utterance, the meaning of I can always be seen. It can be said, then, that the pronoun I marks the point of articulation between the pre-existing, repeatable system of language and my unique, unrepeatable existence as a particular person in a specific social and historical situation. (p.27-28 Holquist 1990)
I never see others as frozen in the immediacy of the isolated present moment. The present is not a static moment, but a mass of different combinations of past and present relations. To say I perceive them as a whole means that I see them surrounded by their whole lives, within the context of a complete narrative having a beginning that precedes our encounter and an end that follows it. I see others as bathed in the light of their whole biography....
Within my own consciousness my I has no beginning and no end... (I)
... must be shaped not only in values, but in story. Stories are the means by which values are made coherent in particular situations. (p.37 Holquist, 1990)
I want to emphasise my approach to educational theory as a living theory in the sense that, in my own consciousness, my I has no beginning and no end. I am certain of my own death but I will not know it. In this sense my explanations of my learning as a professional educator and educational researcher are created within a pre-existing, repeatable system of language but on the ground of my, unique, unrepeatable existence as a particular I in a specific social and historical situation.
I now want to explain why the existence of I, as a living contradiction in the creation of living educational theories, is significant for the creation of new forms of educational knowledge. It was the logician, Eward Ilyenkov (1977) who focused my attention on the significance of I as a living contradiction when he asked the question, If any object exists as aliving contradiction what must the thought (statement about the object ) be that expresses it?. The way I make sense of the problem of contradiction in correct thought, is to contrast the ideas of Plato and Aristotle. In the Phaedrus, Socrates says that there are two ways of coming to know, we break things down into particulars and we hold things together under general ideas. He says that it is the art of the dialectician to hold both the One and the Many together. Aristotle, in his work on Interpretation, says that we must choose whether someone has a particular characteristic or not. In Aristotles Law of Contradiction it is forbidden for two mutually exclusive statements to be true simultaneously. In Western traditions of theory creation and testing, theories are believed to be general explanatory frameworks which can explain the behaviour of particular cases subsumed by the theory. In the empirical sciences theories are often presented in terms of a set of determinate relationships between a set of variables in terms of which a fairly extensive set of empirically verifiable regularities can be explained.
One of the great sources of mis-understanding concerning the nature of living educational theories is that it may be wrongly assumed that they have the same logical form as theories which are presented in terms of conceptual generalisations. This is a mistake. It is important to understand that living theories are theories of singularities, of living Is researching and answering questions of the kind, How do I improve what I am doing?.
The misunderstandings are all the more severe when readers judge the presentations of living theories, solely in terms of traditional analytic frameworks. They are looking for propositional analyses drawn from general theories, when the analysis is being presented within a dialogical and dialectical form of living theory. This can lead to the rejection of living theories as being academically unacceptable by those who are only viewing them through the lens of their propositional logic. On the other hand proponents of living theories can demonstrate how their dialogical and dialectical forms of presentations can integrate insights drawn from the traditional theories, without their explanations for their own professional learning being subsumed within any of the traditional theories, taken separately or in any combination (Holley, 1997; Laidlaw, 1996). One of the best examples of how this can be done is in Chapter 10 and The Afterword of Kevin Eames (1995) Theses, where he analyses the categories used by Hoyle and John (1995), to characterise professional knowledge and learning. He shows that they are too limited and offers his own dialogical and dialectical form of understanding to characterise his own professional knowledge and learning.
In the studies of singularity (Bassey, 1995, pp.109-117) below, each individual has made an explicit claim to have made a contribution to educational knowledge in their unique forms of description and explanation of their own professional and personal learning as they answer and research questions of the kind, How do I improve my practice? or How do I help you to improve your learning?. In other words their unit of appraisal is the explanation they present for their own professional learning. I have included below, the abstracts from their Theses and Dissertations where they summarise these claims in their own voices. Following these abstracts of their claims to knowledge I outline what I see as their contribution to our understanding of the new educational standards of judgement for testing the validity of our claims to educational knowledge made from within our educational action research programmes.
In writing about these new standards of judgement I wish to contribute to conversations on the nature of narratives of becoming an action research (MacLure 1996, p. 283) and on the professional, personal and political dimensions of action research Noffke 1997, p. 305). In particular I am thinking of MacLures questions:
Might we be cyborgs, hybrids or tricksters, whose business is to prevent solutions to the problem of getting safely across the boundaries of teacher/academic, personal/professional, being/becoming? If we tell our lives, and expect to hear them told by others, in ways which constantly try to overcome alteriety - that incalcuable Otherness that deconstructionists argue is the forgotten origin of the core self- can we be sure that we are not acting on behalf of those insitutions whose business is the colonisation of the Other (Spivak, 1988)?
Couture (1994) suggests, playfully but nonetheless seriously that action reserach within the academy might be just such an enterprise. He imagines the university as Dracula, feeding off the virgin souls (selves) of teachers who offer themselves up in the name of reflective practice. Couture fears that action research works by consuming the ungovernable alterity of the client, producing a state of amnesia, and leaving in its place this dead, smelly thing called teacher identity (p.130) a simulacrum that silences resistance and erases the memory of other, fractured and conflicting possibilities of identity. If he is right, what must we have forgotton in order to tell these smooth stories of self?
I am also thinking of making a constructive response, which will include living educational theories in professional practice, to Noffkes claims that:
There is some evidence, too, that concepts such as freedom, rationality, justice, democracy, and so forth, play a role in the examination of both personal theories and practices (e.g. McNiff, 1993). These, in turn, are seen as acting to encourage and support efforts to challenge trends within the educational system seen as obstructing the realization of the living educational theory (Whitehead, 1993).
As vital as such a process of self-awareness is to identifying the contradicitons between ones espoused theories and ones practices, perhaps because of its focus on individual learning, it only begins to address the social basis of personal belief systems. While such efforts can further a kind of collective agency (McNiff, 1988), it is a sense of agency built on ideas of society as a collection of autonomous individuals. As such, it seems incapable of addressing social issues in terms of the interconnections between personal identity and the claim of experiential knowledge, as well as power and privilege in society (Dolby, 1995; Noffke, 1991. The process of personal transformation through the examination of practice and self-reflection may be a necessary part of social change, especially in education; it is, however, not sufficient. (Noffke, 1997, p. 329).
In relation to the history of the legitimation of living theory theses in the University of Bath I think the work and courage of Brian Green (1979), Don Foster (1982), and Martin Forrest (1983) deserve special mention. As I write this I feel the negative pressure of recalling my experience of having two Ph.D. submissions rejected in 1980 and 1982 at the same time as I was supervising the above practitioner-researchers. The tension was great because they were integrating some of the ideas from the rejected theses within their own enquiries! You might understand my tension more when I tell you that these rejections included the statements that my theses contained no matter worthy of publication and that I should not be permitted to resubmit.
I hold particular affection for working with Brian Green (1979) on his M.A. submission to the University of London on Personal dialectics in educational theory and educational research methodology in the context of researching pupils learning of art. This was the first higher degree dissertation where the researcher acknowleged the integration of ideas from my own research programme in their own.
Here is Brians synopsis of his Thesis:
This dissertation explores the problems of explaining a process of education in an art lesson. Attention is focused upon the types of research methodology which are appropriate for the investigation of practical educational problems. In exploring the problems the researcher discovered the importance of personal dialectics in educational theory and educational research methodology. The dissertation presents this discovery in three parts:
Part One describes an investigation into teachers style in art lessons and using an observation schedule and giving the reasons why this technique was abandoned.
Part Two describes an investigation designed to gather and analyse data related to a process of education in an art lesson. The methods used in this investigation included participant observation, video-taping art lessons, and taping conversations between the teacher and pupil, and the teacher and researcher.
Part Three contains an analysis of the methodologies in Parts One and Two and distinguishs their claims to knowledge in terms of Personal and Objective knowledge. The limits of the investigation are assessed in terms of a personal dialectic. This is followed by a consideration of the implications of the research for educational theory and the appropriateness of particular methodologies for the investigation of practical educational problems.
Green explicates a dialectical standard for judging his claim to knowledge in the following way which integrates the researchers living I:
What I have attempted to show in this section is that the disciplines approach to educational research sustains the gap between educational theory and practice. I have pointed out that this gap is sustained by the use of an objectivist epistemology which denies the dialectical base of an educators practice and by the use of a conceptual analysis which removes I, in the sense of a conscious individual, from the conscious and causal basis of educational theory. My argument is that it is possible to construct an educational theory without the above limitations by the use of personal dialectics. Personal dialectics can be shown to be rational and scientific but does not limit educational theory to purely linguistic terms, nor does it require the separation of facts from values or theory from practice. (Green, 1979, p. 108)
Don Fosters (1982) M.Ed. research degree, on Explanations for teachers attempts to improve the quality of education for their pupils , was particularly significant for me as the first research degree I supervised. Here is an extract from Dons introduction which in many ways outlined the central questions in the research programme, concerning with the nature of the explanations for the lives of individual educators, which I have continued to support:
As part of my work as science editor at the Resources for Learning Development Unit. I worked with groups of science teachers to help them solve some of the problems they were facing with first and second year pupils. During this work I became increasingly interested in developing a means of explaining the process which I was observing and in which I was participating. How could the process by which teachers attempt to improve their educational practices be described and explained?
In seeking guidance from the literature I became aware that the explanations for change which were presented had little relevance to the changes I was observing and helping to bring about. They seemed unable to adequately answer the question How did.......... attempt to improve the process of education for his/her pupils?. I, therefore, considered the appropriateness of the approach of the dominant paradigm of educational research as a means of answering such a question and concluded that its use would be problematic. I also noted that while some authors had proposed the development of an alternative approach, none had emerged clearly in the literature.
In the first part of this thesis I have provided an historical account of my involvement in educational change and my growing anxieties about the use of the approach of the dominant paradigm to describe and explain such change. I have described the dominant paradigm and, with the use of extensive examples from the literature, highlighted the increasing debate about its use and the problems which I believe such a use entails.The development of an alternative presents its own problems. In particular, how can explanations for the lives of individual educators be developed, how can they be presented, and how can they be claimed to be valid and objective? I have, therefore, described these problems, my imagined solution to them, the implementation of the solution and my evaluation of it.
The standards of judgement in Fosters contribution to educational knowledge focused on the issues of validity and objectivity in explanations for the professional learning of individual educators. He also explicitly used a systematic form of action reflection cycles in describing his problems, his imagined solution, his actions and his evaluations.
Martin Forrests (1983) , in his abstract to, The teacher as researcher - the use of historical artefacts in primary schools, states:
This dissertation is concerned with improving the quality of education in schools and with the generation of knowledge of the processes by which that improvement may be engendered. A critical view is taken of the centre-periphery nature of the Research Development and Diffusion model of curriculum development widely adopted by Schools Council projects and the contribution of educational research generally in helping teachers to improve their practice is questioned. The alternative model proposed follows the lines of an action research project aimed at improving the quality of learning in local primary schools, in which partnership between the external researcher and his school teacher associates is seen as of central importance.
Two case studies provide detailed explanations for the classroom practices of an infant and a junior school teacher during the second healf of the school year 1982-83. The action research is focussed upon history in primary schools. The introduction of artefact study cases into the primary school curriculum is an innovation, stimulated by the work of an L.E.A. working party report, which in turn represented part of the Avon Authoritys responses to D.E.S. Circular 6/81. In this approach to action research, the teachers are themselves seen as researchers, using the innovation to help them to develop in their pupils those qualities which they believe to be important following a systematic cycle of action and reflection. The approach is evaluated in some detail and its important potential in relation to both the initial and inservice education of teachers is considered, as an attempt to bridge the existing gap between theory and practice.
Martin concentrated on the explanations for the classroom practices of an infant and junior school teacher and in an excellent chapter on Implementing a solution, explains the use of a validation group to enhance the explanatory capacity of his account. This still remains an outstanding example of how a validation group can help to test the validity of an account and help to take the enquiry forward.
BERA Symposia on Action Research, Educational Theory and the Politics of Educational Knowledge.
In 1984 several of the research group went to the first symposium I convened on Action Research, Educational Theory and the Politics of Educational Knowledge. We returned in 1985 for the beginning of a creative partnership with Pam Lomax of Kingston University when she responded to a positivist researchers criticisms of our studies of singularities and later published an account of the symposium (Lomax 1986).
The contributions to the 1985 BERA Symposium on Action Research, Educational Theory and The Politics of Educational Knowledge were:
Pam Lomax, Course Evaluation as Action Research
Ron King, Do I know that the quality of education has improved in my T.E.C. Engineering Science Class?
Andy Larter, What ought I to have done? An examination of events surrounding a Racist Poem.
Kevin Eames, Teaching Argument Essays
Jack Whitehead, What is the logical form of educational knowledge? - A question asked within the context of the politics of educational knowledge.
1987 was a good year with the successful submission of the following five practitioner research M.Phil Theses, to add to our collection in the University Library. These included the work of the three research students who presented at BERA 1995.
Ron Adams M.Phil. (1987) An evaluation through action research of the provision in use of the Wiltshire Resources Collection.
This study looks at one aspect of local education department resource provision and use. This is the Service to Education and Young People (SEYP) of the Wiltshire County Council Library and Museum Service.
The initial focus is on one part of SEYP - The Visual Arts and Museum Loans service has been extended to encompass all aspects of SEYP. However, because of the researchers own professional involvment in the service it will be found in the analysis that somewhat greater attention has been given to the Visual Arts and Museum Loans service than to the other four services provided through SEYP.
Throughout the study three specific areas of enquiry have emerged, in seeking to find solutions to problems in those distinct areas a strategy has been developed to help generate:
Basic data about SEYP Resource Provision
Data about the use of resources in class and
Improvements to practices that to some extent have governed the provision of the service.
Integrating statistical techniques, case study and an engagement in the political domain the study has been undertaken as a self-reflective enquiry with the object of improving the rationality and justice of:
* the researchers own practices
* the researchers understanding of those practices
* the situation within which the practices are carried out.
While it may be found that this study is unusual for Action research in that it involves statistical analysis as part of its form, it is believed that it is the integration of this and other aspects of the study within cycles of action and refelction that is its strongest characteristic as educational research. Central to the educational nature of the work the study itself is reviewed and the actions taken to improve practice are examined.
Ron Adams Thesis is particularly interesting because of the way he faces up to the ethical, political and economic dilemmas of releasing sensitive information when experiencing the pressure of powerful interest groups and individuals who were attempting to prevent publication. The Theses has been embargoed for five years and is now available in the University Library.
In his Chapter on the Right to Know, Adams integrates Richard Prings (Adelman, 1984) analysis into his decision to submit his Thesis on the grounds that it is in the public interest. In coming to this decision he integrated his political, philosophical and economic understandings and values within the narrative of his educational development. He includes these values as standards of judgement in testing the validity of his contribution to educational knowledge.
Andy Larters, M.Phil. (1987) An action research approach to understanding my attempts to improve the quality of education in my own classroom.
Three reports provide the detailed explanations of what occurred when I attempted to put my planned interventions into operation. My concern was with a group of students in the last two years of their compulsory schooling and how they discussed and made sense of issues arising from the events in the classroom.
To this end, I have attempted to integrate the following:
1. transcripts of classroom events;
2. my reflections upon the transcripts and the events; and
3. literature from the field of oracy.
The dissertation is presented in a dialogical form as part of an exploration of the logic of question and answer and generates the possibility of a different definition of generalisation. This is also an attempt to reflect the nature of the research itself - that is, discussions between students, colleagues and myself as well as internal dialogues.
Many subsequent theses have benefitted from the ground-breaking dialogical and dialectical form of representation used by Andy Larter in explaining his own professional learning in his contribution to educational knowledge. Larters, standards of judgement included his dialectical and dialogical response to the experience of himself as a living contradiction when responding to receiving a racist poem from a pupil whilst answering and researching his question, what ought I to have done?.
In working with Andy Larter I encountered some of my most painful learning as we supported teachers in the school in registering for research degrees in the School of Education. We have yet to publish our accounts of the way in which supervisors were allocated by the University to these teacher-reseachers. I think the account would fulfil Patti Lathers point (MacLure 1996) about the need for accounts in action research other than victory narratives!
Kevin Eames, in the abstract to his M.Phil. (1987) The growth of a teacher-reserachers attempt to understand writing, redrafting, learning and autonomy in the examination years, states:
This dissertation deals with a teacher-researchers attempt to improve and understand the writing of a class of English students during their fourth and fifty years in a comprehensive school. The inquiry is classroom-based, and makes use of the five-part action research cycle in four detailed case-studies or writers.
The inquiry begins by discussing the school context, and identifying points at which the researchers educational values are in conflict with the prevailing attitude to learning in the school. The researcher then records his attempts, through four sequences of writing, to develop in his students autonomy as writers, by encouraging them to mobilise their personal experiences and concerns, to use expressive writing and redrafting to develop their ideas, and to make independent judgements on the quality of the meanings that were taking shape on the page.
In the case-studies which form the research reports, the researcher chronicles his evolving awareness of theories about writing, and their relation to his practice. He chronicles, too, his changing understanding of his original assumptions about autonomy, and the limitations of his first attempt to encourage independence in his students by the use of his particular approach to writing.
The final chapter summarises his learning both as an action-researcher, and as a teacher.
Kevin Eames standards of judgement in this Thesis include a clear explication of the use-value of action/reflection cycles in helping to break the grip of objectivitist frameworks (Polanyi 1958) in educational research methodology.
His thesis also marks the beginning of his Ph.D. enquiry in which he made original contributions to the professional knowledge-base of teaching. I do hope that you will give your attention to Kevins work in his M.Phil. and Ph.D. Theses and is his editing of the Education Council Journal (Eames 1996). The afterward to his Ph.D. (Eames 1995) is a clear example of how a dialogical form of educational engagement can trascend some of the limitations of traditional forms of academic discourse and judgement.
Ron King, in the abstract to his M.Phil. (1987) An Action Inquiry about Day Release in Further Education, states:
This Thesis is an account of my own professional practice as I acted and reflected on questions of the form, How do I, acting collaboratively, improve the quality of education with day release students?. The account is an attempt to contribute to the growing body of case studies in action research. In particular, starting with a feeling of unease, it sets the problem, explores the difficulties of working collaboratively with colleagues on an action research inquiry within one college and considers the problem of producing a valid interpretation of constantly changing classroom activities.
Ron Kings contribution to the standards of judgement is focused on the integration of a collaborative standard of judgement in his educational action research programme.
Margaret Jensens, in the abstract to her M.Phil (1987) A Creative Approach to the Teaching of English in the Examination Years states:
My dissertation is an account of an action research project into a creative approach to the teaching of english in the examination years ie; 14 to 16. It incorporates four research reports based on material collected and developed in my own classroom over a period of three years. These reports include an examination of pupils writing, transcripts of audio and video-tape of lessons and interviews, transcripts of a validation group meeting and the use of learning logs. I have, therefore, used a variety of means to represent the educational process within my own classroom and have attempted to consider how it is possible to produce a reflective account of the teaching/learning process and thus assess ones own professional practice.
The four research reports are linked by a reflective commentary which seeks to show the development of a critical and exploratory process. Parts of this process is the identification of the gap between theory and practice in the classroom.
In my opening and closing chapters I have attempted to set my work in the context of the action research movement and to make a critical examination of the aspects of that movement which I believe to be of relevance to my own work.
Margaret Jensens standards of judgement are focused upon the value of creativity in both pupils learning and a teacher-researchers enquiry in transcending the experience of externally imposed constraints in national curriculum and assessment policies.
Our first Ph.D. success was Mary Gurneys (1988) An action research enquiry into ways of developing and improving personal and social education. Here is Marys abstract:
This study is concerned with improving the quality of education in schools and with the generation of an understanding of the processes by which that improvement may be facilitated.
The setting of the research is an 11-18 Comprehensive school in an urban area where the researcher has been a full time teacher for a number of years. The teacher-researcher is engaged in school-initiated curriculum development at the level of innovation, and an action rsearch approach is adopted as a means of improving the accompanying programme of In-service training of teachers. The programme, led by the teacher-researcher and a colleague, encounters numerous difficulties in its development. The researcher attempts to understand the problems from a number of different perspectives and in the light of the experience of other school-base curriculum developments.
During the course of the In-service work the researcher experiences the need to justify her claims to know her own practice and this leads to an extensive analysis of her own teaching. In this critical and self-critical study the researcher evaluates her own practice and reflects on the progress of her pupils and the quality of the classroom life.
The researcher engages with two other colleagues, in separate studies, in systematic cycles of action and reflection, in an attempt to improve the quality of Personal and Social Education for their pupils. The research work as a whole constitutes an example of professional development through curriculum development, using the paradigm of emancipatory action research to develop and improve the quality of Personal and Social Education for the pupils.
Mary Gurneys contribution to our standards of judgement is focused on the emancipatory intent of enabling students to speak on their own behalf in teacher-reseachers accounts of pupil learning. Mary demonstrates how pupils can be involved in the construction of the standards of judgement which can be used by pupils in the process of improving the quality of their learning. She also explains how she established more collaborative teaching-learning relationships of the kind described by Rudduck (1996) and McNiff (1993).
In 1989 Jean McNiff was awarded her Ph.D. for her, An explanation for an individuals educational development through the dialectic of action research. In her abstract Jean says:
The purpose of this text is to analyse the educational development of a reflective practitioner. It contains two analytic frameworks. The inner framework consders the original, constitution and use of values in education. Within this framework I examine the dominant assumptions of the literature of values education, and that of other related disciplines and conclude that they are not adequate as a basis for generating an explanation for my own educational development.
The outer framework analyses my own educational development in terms of an educational theory which can account for this development as both a generative and transformatory process.
My presentation is designed to show the origin, constitution and use of a critical educational science in which educational research can be shown to be both intrinsically educational and a proper base for teaching.
Jean McNiff has been most influential in her writing in captivating the imagination of readers who have developed their own living theory approaches to their professional learning (McNiff, 1992, 1993, 1996). Her contribution to our standards of judgement have focused on the importance of explaining the processes of personal and professional learning in an action research account in a way which includes a spirit of enquiry. The idea that the standards of judgement can be understood as living values which themselves are modified and sometimes transformed in the action enquiry has been explicated in Moira Laidlaws contribution below where she certainly embodies the value which Jean describes as a spirit of enquiry:
When you read, please approach the text in a spirit of enquiry, the same spirit in which it was written. Remember, the only thing constant in the text is my claim. My claim is at issue. I openly accept that some of my substantial propositions have been subjected to critical analysis and have been transformed by that process (for example, first version 1-4; second version 5). I openly accept that my epistemological base has transformed radically (first version 1-4; second version 1,3). I do not regard the shift as a sign of weakness or poor planning. I regard it as a strength, deliberately to adopt an open, enquiring mind that accepts that it is a living, changing part of a living, changing world. I have acquired the courage to be open to change through my own enquiry into my own mind. (McNiff, 1989, p.38).
In 1989 Paul Denley was awarded his Ph.D. on The development of an approach to practitioner research initiated through classroom observation and of particular relevance to the evaluation of innovation in science teaching. Paul has this to say about his thesis:
The personal style used in telling the story acknowledges Medawars criticism of formal research accounts which may deny the importance of recognising that such activities are undertaken by real people.
A transition is revealed through the telling of the story from a position in which evaluation is seen as a discrete component of the whole process of developing the curriculum, to one in which it is viewed as being an integral part of a research orientation towards improving practice along the lines first proposed by Stenhouse..... Alongside the main story, three areas are reviewed; trends in the evaluation of curriculum innovation; a survey of studies involving classroom observation in science teaching; and the development of ideas about the teacher-as-researcher and educational action research. These reviews informed the empirical research and an attempt is made in the concluding section to bring them together in the support of the case for the holistic approach to practitioner research....
In the concluding evaluation of his thesis Denley draws on the work of Whitehead and Foster (1984) in explicating the importance of scientific, logical, ethical and aesthetic values as appropriate standards of judgement for testing the validity of contributions to educational knowledge:
Foster and Whitehead share Prings (1979) view that educational theory is generated through critical and systematic reflection on practice. Thus, theory will be seen in the educational development of individuals, and, in exposing theory to public scrutiny, the unit of appraisal ought to be an individuals claim to know his or her own educational development as revealed normally through a written account such as a thesis or paper. In order to examine such a claim, scientific, logical, ethical and aesthetic values would be appropriate standards of judgement. They suggest that the testing of validity by undertaken by a validation group composed of perhaps not more than ten people drawn to represent different interest groups, but without allowing any individuals institutional position to dominate over the force of rational argument in determining the validity of the researchers claims. The function of such a group relates to the concept of triangulation discussed elsewhere; the intention is to establish truth through consensus. Foster (1982) subjected his research to the critical scrutiny of a validation group and found it a supportive way of not only confirming his actions but assisting in the process of reflection.
In addition to the above recent Ph.D. and M.Phil. Theses, the following educational action researchers, have been awarded M.Phil. degrees (Walton, 1992; Hayward, 1993; Holley 1997) and M.Ed. and M.A. degrees from a taught masters programme. They have also made significant contributions to educational knowledge. These include the above dissertation of Martin Forrest (1983), and the following M.Ed dissertations of Peggy Kok (1991), Azalea C.C. Lin (1993), Peter Mellett (1994).
Chris Walton, M.Phil. (1992) in his An action-research inquiry into attempts to improve the quality of narrative writing in my own classroom, writes:
My thesis is a record of work undertaken in the form of a series of research cycles, to explore approaches used in my own classroom to improve the quality of pupils narrative writing. The action-research cycles took place between 1985 and 1989, with a number of different classes at the Ridgeway School, Wroughton, Swindon, where I was Head of the English Department.
The introductory chapter locates the nature of the research methodology both in the developing field of action-research as a justifiable approach to establishing educational knowledge for the reflective practitioner, and also within the context of the post-moderism debate in contemporary Western philosophy which has established new orders of thinking about the importance of dialectics in rational thought and for considering the relationship between theory, or critique, and practice.
Part of this introductory justification involves a statement that the act of reflection on my own management of change - as a practitioner - an my narration of these chagnes, has given me the opportunity, in the form and narrative of the thesis itself, to exemplify a living reality of the practitioner undertaking attempts to improve the qualityof learning for pupils in English lessons.....
The conclusion approaches the epistemological issues more directly in an attempt to link the values I have been trying to live out in my practice with a philosophical justification of the rationality inherent in the form of the thesis and research methodology - i.e. narrative, reflective and, essentially dialogical.
Chris Waltons contribution to the standards of judgement is focused on the last paragraph. He acknowledges the use-value of the ideas of educational action researchers and other researchers. He stresses the importance of understanding narrative forms of representation in linking educational values with a philosophical justification of the rationality inherence in both his practice and his contribution to educational knowledge.
Paul Hayward, M.Phil. (1992) How can I improve the learning of myself and my pupils as we work through the design process? : an action enquiry to construct and present the development of my own professional practice.
As a teacher wishing to improve the performance of pupils in my classroom, my thesis has grown from a concern regarding the problems which I perceived pupils were experiencing when working through the design process. I soon began to realise that the question regarding pupil performance was really only part of a much wider question concerning my own professional practice. The underlying question became, How do I improve my practice?. In attempting to realise my values in the course of my practice, and build a true picture of life in my classroom, I have used the systematic action-reflection cycle as proposed by McNiff (1988). In using this model I am making a claim to know my own educational development.
Regarding Design and Technology I believe that the main contributions of my educational research can be seen in my work with: a) The pupils growing understanding of the design process. b) The development of pupil autonomy; pupils accepting a greater degree of responsibility for their work. c) The voice of the pupils emerging and developing over time.
Within the Educational Research Community I believe that the main contributions of my work can be seen in the following areas: a) My professional development and growing understanding of the action-reflection cycle, and the process of education in action. Linked to my professional development, b) pupils can be seen to be extending my understanding of their capabilities, showing me as a learner as well as a teacher. c) the presentation of the process of education in action as it focuses upon the pupil-teacher relationships. Finally I believe that, d) I am offering a form of presentation which reflects events and developments within my classroom, and in doing so I believe that my thesis manages to present professional knowledge in an academic form.
Paul Haywards contribution to the standards of judgement of our educational action research community is focused on his artistry in showing one possibility for holding together the disparate components of his enquiry within his one enquiry, How do I improve my practice?. He demonstrates how educative relationships can be understood and communicated in a way which enables the teacher-researcher to make a justifiable claim to understand their educative influence on their pupils learning. In this process pupils can be seen to be involved in a developing sense of their own autonomy as they work through the design process within a technology classroom. Paul demonstrates the quality of listening described in the six principles abstracted from the data gathered by Rudduck, Chaplain and Wallace (1996, p.173-174), concerning respect, fairness, autonomy, intellectual challenge, social support and security.
Peggy Kok M.Ed. (1991) ACTION RESEARCH: THE ART OF AN EDUCATIONAL iNQUIRer
This dissertation traces my journey as a teacher researcher to the core of the Living Educational Theory approach to Action research in order that I may understand this approach thoroughly enough for me to embark confidently on action research activities based on this approach.
By the time I started on this dissertation, I had completed two assignments in the Action Research modules 1 and 2 over two terms. The first three chapters of this dissertation concentrate on my search for knowledge relating to the nature of educational theory, educational research and the reasons for the displacement of traditional methods of educational research by action research as the way forward in the education of teachers.
In the last section of Chapter three, I give in detail an account of my action research inquiry to show how action research based on the Living Educational Theory approach is carried out and from there I analysed the philosophy behind this approach in Chapter 4.
Chapter 5 is a discussion on the concern with the validity of action research accounts and four criteria of judgements proposed by me.
Chapter 6, the last chapter would have been an analysis of a few case-studies of action research inquiries to determine the validity of their claims and whether they have been carried out in a systematic and rigourous way. But this was not the case as an unexpected discovery along my journey rendered this plan unnecessary and instead directed me to pursue another ending to this dissertation concerned with the art of education. The pages within these covers contain not just thoughts and the ability to analyse and synthesise. It is original as well, as no one else has been through the same educational experience and have written an account in exactly the same way.
I have published previously an acknowledgement of Peggys educational influence on me as I supervised her dissertation (Whitehead, 1993). Peggys contribution to our standards of judgement are focus on her title, The art of an educational enquirer. She demonstrates the art of a dialectician in holding both the One and the Many educational enquiries together. In addition to this she shows, within a dialogical form, how she resolved ontological dilemmas related to values in conflict.
Azalia Chuan-Chuan Lin, M.Ed. 1993 Action Research: A Process of Becoming.
Like Ron Adams dissertation, but for different reasons, the experience of being part of the University legitimation procedures for her dissertation taught me much about the politics of educational knowledge. I am thinking of the particular constellation of power relations which can be brought to bear on academic judgements in Examining Boards and Research Committees and their influence on establishing the meanings of the spiritual, aesthetic and ethical values which can be used to test the validity of claims to educational knowledge. I have also written about the politics of educational knowledge in relation to the constellation of power relations which influenced the recommendation not to legitimate my explanation of my own educational development (Whitehead, 1993). Because the spiritual and aesthetic standards of judgement used by C.C. Lin were intimately related to the aesthetic form of her presentation, I felt that it was appropriate to include the following acknowledgements before presentating her abstract.
ACTION RESEARCH: A PROCESS OF BECOMING
This thesis attempts to bring life to the writer's educational development as a process of becoming through an Action Research approach by asking the kind of question, "How do I improve...". In finding a form, a way of articulating the unnameable, this thesis is presented in an experimental form in terms of the mythological scenario, the employment of metaphorical devices in order to explicate the art of a dialectician who holds together both the one and the many that it is being constituted by a reflective conversation within the writer's inner selves in harmony with the environment. One of the distinctive contributions of this thesis is the understanding of an aesthetic standard of judgement which can be used to test the validity of a claim to know an individual's educational development as a form of art.
To Death, My Father, Lin, Chuan, for his Forgiveness
To Birth, A Baby with Guy Samuel Eby for the joys of Life
To The Ones I Love...
Azalea Chuan-Chuan Lin,
Struggling to live and yet presenting us death,
Presenting us death, and yet I see life in her.
Guy Samuel Eby,
An artist of life and love who paints with his soul...
With his strong will to live and insistence of the meaningfulness of life,
I experience the joys of being with consciousness.
She does not give me a soul. She cannot.
But she recognizes I have the most beautiful soul.
She does not give me a pair of wings.
She waits for my wings to grow, so I can fly with her and with myself.
She does not illuminate the darkness for me.
I am the light.
Not only because he likes me, but also I enjoy his company.
She delivered the warmth in a winter of ignorance and reminded me of The Spring.
PGCE Students In Action Research Group 1992 -
Sara Darlington, Barbara Myerson, Lara Gatling, Catherine Chapman, Matthew Brake, Jennie Hick , Gail Hannaford, Emma Trigg, and Nigel Brown,
Their commitment to the pupils' growth and endeavors to be educators and to endorse the beauty of education.
Sara, Nigel, Lara, Barbara, Jennie, Matthew, Gail and Catherine,
Thanks for their generosity to offer me an opportunity to explore the significance of a collaborative educational research.
Thanks for his help. I wish I could say something more than 'Thank you!'
The Tutors who kindly allowed me to have open conversations with them,
I am sorry that I cannot mention their names, because I have promised one of the tutors the conversations would be confidential.
Chris Cloke, Martin, and Derek,
Thanks for their understanding and patience for the M.Ed. student, C.C. Lin, who handed in her thesis at the last minute.
Peter Mellett, (1994) Making the break: How can I undertake and understand my search for an enhanced comprehension of my life through moving beyond forms of existence that are grounded in mere formal rationality and instrumental reason?
This dissertation charts the progress over four years of the changing perspectives of an individual who engages with a succession of action research questions deriving from the the form: How can I improve the quality of my life?.
Starting with an enquiry into improving the quality of my thinking, I come to identify the negative implications of understanding and expressing my being through the cognitive categories of a positivist personal paradigm.
Movement towards an alternative dialogical perspective is initiated as I consider aesthetic sensibility and aspects of feeling as representing the opposite pole to pure thinking. However, any attempt at movement seems to return me to the place from which I start because I am attempting to undertake and understand my search through descriptions and analyses which are grounded in the very categories I wish to transcend.
I move from self-reflection and the analysis of texts to the more public arena of a school where I join my enquiry with that of a classroom teacher who is also engaged in his own enquiry. My understanding of dialogical encounter grows as I explicate aspects of power, authority, and control in our relationship and partically resolve these through a consideration of mentorship.
I finally turn to correspondences and conversations with others in order to pursue my search for enhanced understanding through the notion of dialogical communities. I describe, largely through use of the old categories, the evolution of my understanding of dialogical encounter through practical engagement, and then demonstrate my enhanced understanding operating within the form of such an encounter. In the final pages, I explain what I understand by enhanced understanding, what it means to me, and how I now express and understand my being through it.
Peter Melletts contribution to our educational standards of judgement is focused on both ontological and epistemological standards. Like Peggy Kok and C.C. Lin he explicitly integrated his search for personal meaning in his educational enquiry How can I improve the quality of my life?. He also demonstrated the dialogical form of his own learning as he moved from a positivist understanding of knowledge to a dialectical form of understanding.
Moyra Evans, Ph.D. (1995) AN ACTION RESEARCH ENQUIRY INTO REFLECTION IN ACTION AS PART OF MY ROLE AS A DEPUTY HEADTEACHER
This thesis is based on a four year research study, in which I have looked at my own practice as a deputy head in a large comprehensive school, using action research methodology. I was concerned about the quality of support the school offered its teachers in the form of staff development for which I was responsible. Once I started the study, I was able to put into operation technical solutions to the problems identified in my everyday working practices but realised that the way in which I worked with the teachers was a much more fundamental issue.
The study shows how I addressed, within the action research methodology itself, the ethical dilemmas that arose when I worked with departments, middle managers and individuals; in particular how I resolved the difficult issues of confidentiality and informed consent from not only an insider researcher perspective, but also that of the deputy head.
Within a hierarchically organised institution, I learned to work with teachers
collaboratively, enabling us all to participate in a dialogical learning community, in which we took control of our learning so that we owned our development, establishing value positions and supporting and nurturing each other through empathising with each other's experiences. We learnt to recognise, value and express our feelings about our action and our learning, using story to transform our
understanding of a situation and to engage others in exploring new perspectives of
it. In this thesis I show how teachers can effect changes which lead to improved professional practices, greater understanding of each other and increased motivation and how their school-based work was legitimated by the Academy in the form of Post Graduate Diplomas.
This thesis describes and explains how I established learning communities of
teachers in order to improve the educational experiences of our students. I have used Schôn's (1983) work on reflecting-in -action to theorise about the nature of the reframing teachers need to undertake in order to understand and put into effect practical interventions which result in them living their educational values more consistently in their practice. The enquiry is contextualised as a study of my leadership role as a woman deputy head action researcher in a comprehensive school, acknowledging that I see my work through a female lens as I present an authentic description and account of my educational practice.
Moyra Evans contribution to our educational standards of judgement includes the criteria of creating her own living educational theory, the integration of fictional accounts as part of the creation of learning communities of teachers when dealing with emotionally stressful experiences and the acknowledgement of the importance of her female lens when presenting an authentic account of her own professional practice.
Kevin Eames, Ph.D. (1995) HOW DO I, AS A TEACHER AND AN EDUCATIONAL ACTION-RESEaRCHER, DESCRIBE AND EXPLAIN THE NATURE OF MY PROFESSIONAL KNOWLEDGE
This thesis is an attempt to make an original contribution to educational knowledge
through a study of my own professional and educational development in action-research enquiries of the kind, 'How do I improve what I am doing?' The study includes analyses of my educative relationships in a classroom, educative conversations and correspondences with other teachers and academics. It also integrates the ideas of others from the wider field of knowledge and from dialectical communities of professional educators based at Bath University, Wootton
Bassett School and elsewhere. The analyses I make of the resulting challenges to my thinking and practice show how educators in schools can work together, embodying a form of professional knowledge which draws on Thomism and other manifestations of dialectical rationality.
Contributions to educational knowledge are made in relation to educational action
research and professional knowledge. The first is concerned with the nature of professional knowledge in education, and how action research can constitute the form of professional knowledge which I see as lacking at present. The second contribution is concerned with how we represent an individual's claim to know their own educational development. These contributions contain an analysis in terms of a dialectical epistemology of professional knowledge, which includes contradiction, negation, transformation and moral responsibility within a dialogical community.
Kevin Eames contribution to our standards of educational judgement is focused on the development of a dialectical epistemology for testing the validity of teacher-researchers claims to know their professional knowledge-base. I have drawn attention above to Kevins impressive contributions to understanding the professional knowledge-base of teacher and to his determination to support the creation of a professional body for teachers (Eames, 1987, 1995, 1996)
Jacqui Hughes, in the abstract to her Ph.D. (1996) ACTION PLANNING AND ASSESSMENT IN GUIDANCE CONTEXTS: HOW CAN I UNDERSTAND AND SUPPORT THESE PROCESSES WHILE WORKING WITH COLLEAGUES IN FURTHER EDUCATION COLLEGES AND CAREER SERVICE PROVISION IN AVON?, states:
The thesis presents an action enquiry approach to improving understanding of
action planning and assessment in guidance within further education colleges and career service in Avon. Within the thesis I integrate the elements within my enquiry to provide an original holistic representation of my search for understanding of, and my learning about, these issues and about my own educational development. Within this synthesis, I also offer a new understanding of the theoretical origins of action planning and the ways in which these can influence practice. In
addition I proffer a new 'process' model which incorporates assessment in guidance within the action planning cycle.
Jacqui Hughes thesis contributed my own understanding of the significance of the theoretical antecedents of the particular approach to action planning used in professional practice and research. Her thesis demonstrates the synthesising capacity of the individual I in creating a description and explanation for ones own professional learning in the process of answering and researching questions of the kind, How do I improve my practice?. Her work helps to focus attention on the implications of adopting critical theory, interpretivist and living theory approaches to action planning, action learning and action research.
Moira Laidlaw, Ph.D. (1996) HOW CAN I CREATE MY OWN LIVING EDUCATIONAL THEORY AS I OFFER YOU AN ACCOUNT OF MY EDUCATIONAL DEVELOPMENT?
I intend my thesis to be a contribution to both educational research methodology
and educational knowledge. In this thesis I have tried to show what it means to me, a teacher-researcher, to bring, amongst others, an aesthetic standard of judgement to bear on my educative relationships with Undergraduate, Postgraduate, Higher Degree education students and classroom pupils in the action enquiry: 'How do I help my students and pupils to improve the quality of their learning?'
By showing how my own fictional narratives can be used to express ontological
understandings in a claim to educational knowledge, and by using insights from Coleridge's 'The Ancient Mariner' to illuminate my own educational values, I intend to make a contribution to actio research methodology. By describing and explaining my own educational development in the creation of my own 'living educational theory', I intend to make a contribution to educationalknowledge.
Moira Laidlaws contribution to our educational standards of judgement is focused on the educational value of aesthetic judgements in testing the validity to her claim to have created her own living educational theory. Like Paul Hayward (1992) and Mary Gurney (1988), Laidlaw analyses her educative relationships with her pupils in a way which shows her educative influence within the pupils own voices as they engage with the standards of judgement they are using to evaluate the quality of their own learning and work out ways of improving it. Laidlaw also makes an original contribution in emphasising that educational standards of judgement are themselves living and changing as part of the educative process itself.
Erica Holley, in the abstract to her M.Phil. (1997) How do I, as a teacher-researcher, contribute to the development of living educational theory through an exploration of my values in my professional practice?, states:
My thesis is a description and explanation of my life as a teacher and researcher in an 11 to 16 comprehensive school in Swindon from 1990 to 1996. I claim that it is a contribution to educational knowledge and educational research methodology through the understanding it shows of the form, meaning and values in my living educational theory as an individual practitioner as I researched my question,
How do I improve what I am doing in my professional practice ?
With its focus on the development of the meanings of my educational values and
educational knowledge in my professional practice I intend this thesis to show the integration of the educational processes of transforming myself by my own knowledge and the knowledge of others and of transforming my educational knowledge through action and reflection. I also intend the thesis to be a contribution to debates about the use of values as being living standards of judgment in educational research.
In the paragraph above Erica Holleys explains how she sees her contribution to our educational standards of judgement. Holleys values include those of a concerned citizen who is engaging dialectically with the tension of attempting to live fully her educational values, whilst experiencing the constraining pressures of the implementation of some institutional and government policies related to monitoring and appraisal, the curriculum and assessment and inspection.
Like Hughes (1996) and Laidlaw (1996), Holley shows the synthesising power of the individual I in creating a unique representation of the narrative of her professional and educational development and holds this together with her analytic capacities in showing the values which form her educational standards of judgement. Erica Holley is a colleague of Andy Larter and Seb Bees and Head of Upper School at Greendown School in Swindon.
RELATING THESE PAST ACHIEVEMENTS TO PRESENT ACADEMIC DEBATES
As a dialectician I find contradictions and intellectual conflict fascinating and, when I am personally involved, sometimes painful. They often provide a creative tension whose clarification and /or resolution contributes to my educational development in extending my cognitive range and concern. As I write I am wondering how the above educational action research programmes are related to the debate between David Berliner (1997 and Lauren Resnick (1997) about Competing Visions for Enhancing the Impact of Educational Research. I imagine many members of BERA and AERA will, like myself, share Berliners concerns when he says:
Looking back, I think AERA has failed to be an advocate for creating the conditions under which our knowledge could possible affect the lives of children. There are two parts to this charge. I believe we have not used our knowledge effectively to better schooling when we know that inappropriate decisions are being made. I also think we have not joined with other advocacy groups to try to change the conditions of contemporary society that makes schooling in these times so very difficult and so very unjust. (Berliner 1997)
I also believe that there will be some members of both BERA and AERA who, like myself, will agree with Lauren Resnick when she says:
Can AERA play an activist role in shaping public policy? Should it? Some AERA leaders today are urging that we, as an organization, play an advocacy role with respect to education and related economic and social welfare policy. They are calling on us, as members of a research organization devoted to understanding and improving education, to express our concerns about broad issues of social justice, issues that encompass education and schooling but reach well beyond the schoolhouse door. I believe that AERA cannot do this effectively. What is more, I believe that we should not try, for we would in the process compromise our ability to play our primary and essential role in education improvement. (Resnick, 1997)
As an educational action researcher, committed to educational values of democracy, freedom and social justice, my educational enquiries of the kind, How do I improve my practice? require my engagement in living my values more fully in my practice and in researching the process. In this sense, my action planning, implementation and evaluation require my advocacy and direct engagement in creating the conditions under which my educational knowledge influences the lives of the students I teach. However, as a member of both AERA and BERA, I agree with Resnick that:
We work as a community by criticizing each other, drawing out the fine points, arguing them, and never being finished. All of this is the opposite of what is needed in advocacy. In advocacy, you often have to remain silent about the things you disagree with because you are trying to find the points of agreement on which you can move forward.
So, on the one hand, in my educational action research I am an advocate for the creation of living educational theories by educational action researchers as they work at improving their practice through answering and researching questions of the kind, How do I improve my practice?. On the other hand, I want to submit the explanations generated from educational action research to educational research communities for informed and rational debate. Even as I write the words explanation and rational I am aware that the meanings of these words are problematic. Maggie Maclure (1996) in a contribution to a special issue of BERJ on Post-modernism and Post-structuralism in Educational Research wonders:
whether we could, and should, think of aborting that mission to explain, and what we might gain and lose by doing that.
In contrast to aborting the mission to explain, Macintyre (1988) is clearly committed to the mission when he writes in his, Whose Justice, Which Rationality?:
The rival claims to truth of contending traditions of enquiry depend for their vindication upon the adequacy and the explanatory ower of the histories which the resources of each of those traditions in conflict enable their adherents to write. (p.403)
In my view, living educational theories are being created by educational action researchers, within unique forms of representation which can explain their own educational development and relate this to their educational influence on their students or colleagues or others in the wider society. I see such theories in terms of the descriptions and explanations which educational action researchers are creating for their own learning as they answer and research questions of the kind, How do I improve my practice?.
I agree with Maclure (1996, p. 284) that if we abandon the search for singularity and explanation, it is not clear how we could address some of the concerns that movitate the inclusion of a life history approach to educational action research.
Hence my commitment to research-based professionalism includes the creation, by practitioners, of their own living educational theories as they answer and research questions of the above kind. Over the past twenty years I have submitted to BERA accounts of the evidence which shows that such living educational theories can be legitimated in the Academy and which shows the nature of the living standards of judgement which can be used to test the validity of the claims to educational knowledge generated through a living theory approach to research-based professionalism. I last summarised this contribution at BERA in 1988 (Whitehead 1989). This Symposium and the materials on the World Wide Web are intended to enhance this contribution.
Again, as I write the words research-based professionalism and evidence I recognise the wide difference in the meanings which these terms can have for different researchers (Day, 1997) and how easily it is to slide into the Balkanization Response (Donmoyer 1996) of so many educational researchers. The characterisation of many of the relationships between different groups of educational researchers in terms of Balkanization refers to the tendency to form mutually exclusive groups who are in conflict but rarely seek to engage in dialogue aimed at mutual understanding. I agree with Donmoyer (1996) when he says:
I believe it is time to begin to talk with each other, to listen carefully to what others - including those who appear to disagree with us - have to say, and to ask - and try to answer - hard questions about the work each of us does.
Before I consider the ideas of a researcher who has taken up the idea of research-based professionalism and evidence-based teaching (Hargreaves, 1997) from a very different perspective to my own, I want to illustrate the kind of benefit I think can accrue to ones own educational development through dialogue with those whose fundamental assumptions differ from ones own. Consider for example my engagement with the ideas of Piaget (1972) and his rejection of the base of living experience in his cognitive psychology. I learnt a great deal from Piaget which I still carry with me in my teaching and relationships with my students. His work helped to increase my sensitivity to paying particular attention to the way my language and the complexity of its conceptual structure, was being comprehended by my students.
Yet, when I turned to cognitive psychology as a possible base for the construction of educational theories which could explain my living relationships and experience with my students, I saw that Piagets ideas could not permit me to create such educational theories on the base of his cognitive psychology:
There are thinkers who dislike the subject and if the subject is characterised in terms of its lived experience we admit to being among them....... the lived can only have a very minor role to play in the construction of cognitive structures for these do not belong to the subjects consciousness but to his operational behaviour.
The hermeneutic phenomological approach to human science research and writing, developed by Max Van Maden (1990) in his Researching Lived Experience does, as the title suggests, offer an account of how to ground research in living experience.
When David Hargreaves (1996) presented his lecture on Teaching as a research-based profession: prospects and possibilities I felt an initial excitement because it seemed related to ideas I advocated at BERA, for a research -based approach to professionalism in education, in my Presidential Address to BERA in 1988 (Whitehead 1989). However, through the debate with Martyn Hammersley (1997), Hargreaves (1997) has clarified his position so that I can now see the fundamental differences between his views and my own on research-based professionalism and evidence-based teaching. This is one of the great values in Hammersleys engagement with the ideas of others. His engagement encourages the clarification and development of these ideas.
I do agree with Hargreaves that teachers would welcome more evidence on what works with whom under what conditions and with what effects as a means of improving the quality of what they do in classrooms (Hargreaves, p. 414,1997). However, I do want to question whether Hargreaves is setting the high standards he believes in, or whether his standards may be fundamentally misconceived and inappropriate for educational research and research-based professionalism in teaching, or whether his high standard should be complemented by other high standards drawn from a very different view of research-based professionalism and evidence-based teaching:
Thus in my lecture I set a high standards research should provide decisive and conclusive evidence that if teachers do X rather than Y in their professional practice, there will be a significant and enduring improvement in outcome.
If 60 per cent of observed cases have produced the given result, then we
conclude that, on the evidence, there is a 60 per cent probability of the
next case doing so as well. (Scruton, 1997, p.16).
Without high probabilities of an improved outcome, and demonstration of enduring effects, supported by confirming replications, the outcome is probably trivial ore merely Hawthorne effect and cannot reasonably be used as decisive grounds for urging a teaching to change from X to Y. It is vital in education as in medicine to make evidence trustworthy before expecting practitioners to use it to inform their practice. Doctors are raising standards over what should count as a usuable research finding, as Hammersley confirms. We in education should follow suit. In the absence of decisive evidence, changing from X to Y is, and should remain, a matter of shifting fashion, current ideology or personal preference. (Hargreaves, 1997, p.414)
Hargreaves sees three steps as essential for the development of evidence-based teaching: Getting the evidence straight; developing clinical policy from evidence; applying the policy in the right place and time.
The alternative approach to research-based professionalism and evidence-based teaching I have been advocating is grounded in the creation of the living educational theories of teachers as they answer and research questions of the kind, How do I improve my practice?.
My emphasis has been on what I take to be a fundamental purpose of educational research which is to contribute to knowledge of our subject, education. I may be mistaken in assuming that educational theory is an important component of educational knowledge and educational research, but it does seem to me that, as educational researchers, we value contributions to educational knowledge which can explain the educational influences of teachers on their pupils. This is why I value educational theory so much. I see educational theory in terms of explanations for the educational development of individual learners. This is what I believe a valid educational theory should be able to do. It should have the capacity to produce valid explanations for the educational development of individuals. In my view of research-based professionalism in teaching, a valid educational theory will have the capacity to produce a valid explanation for the educational development of a teacher in relation to his or her educational influence on his or her pupils.
Now, there are undoubtedly very different forms of educational research. There is no general agreement about what constitutes educational theory. Some twenty years ago, the last dominant paradigm of educational theory held that it was constituted by the different disciplines of education such as the philosophy, psychology, sociology and history of education. I recall rejecting this disciplines approach to educational theory on the grounds that the disciplines of education could not produce, either singly, or in any combination, a valid explanation for my own educational development and the educational influence I was having with my pupils. My attempt to reconstruct educational theory includes contributions from the disciplines of education but it marks off the discipline of education from the disciplines of education. Understanding what I mean does require the art of a dialectician in the way described in the Phaedrus where Socrates says that there are two ways of coming to know, we break things down into separate particulars and we hold things together under a general idea. He claims that the art of the dialectician is expressed in holding both the One and the Many together. In saying this I do not want you to think that I am accepting Platos notion of the forms. Indeed, I agree with Gadamer (1979, p. 333) when he says that the logic of the human sciences is a logic of the question and that despite Plato we are not very ready for such a logic. Let me clarify how I define a living educational theories and how I understand the art of a dialectician in their creation.
One of my colleagues who is interested in the idea of Mikhail Bakhtin said to me recently, I dont believe in your conception of living educational theory?. Because I hadnt had this said to me directly before, I thought I would ask myself the question, Why would someone who is influenced by Bakhtins theories not believe in my conception of my living educational theory?.
Because there are so many points of agreement between the assumptions in Bakhtins literary theories and my view of living educational theories, I thought that I would outline what I see as the fundamental agreements which would be grounds for believing in my conception of living educational theories. I thought I would then see what grounds there might be for a lack of belief in my conception.
Some of my colleagues raise a laugh whenever living educational theories are mentioned by asking Are all the rest of our theories dead theories?!. Let me try to show why, in my conception, the idea of living theory can have meaning, but the idea of dead theory cannot have meaning for me.
In my educational enquiry, How do I improve what I am doing?, I exist as a value-centre, as a centre of consciousness where my I has no beginning and no end. In this I believe with Bakhtin in existence as dialogue:
The only way I know of my birth is through accounts I have of it from others; and I shall never know my death, because my self will be alive only so long as I have consciousness - what is called my death, will not be known by me, but once again only by others... Stories are the means by which values are made coherent in particular situations. And this narrativity, this possibility of conceiving my beginning and end as a whole life, is always enacted in the time/space of the other: I may see my death, but not in the category of my I, For my I, death occurs only for others, even when the death in question is my own. (p.37. Holquist 1990)
Between 1968-1972, I was moved to create an alternative possibility to the dominant disciplines approach to educational theory. The original thought I had was that instead of being constituted by the disciplines of philosophy, psychology, sociology, history, management, and literary theory, educational theory could be viewed as being constituted by the descriptions and explanations which professional educators created for their own learning as they answered practical questions of the kind, How do I improve this process of education here?. This approach does not preclude the integation of other theories. Hence my idea of living educational theories. The problem I had with a view of educational theory derived from a rationalist philosophy is the same problem identified by Bakhtin in the creation of his literary theories:
As Bakhtin explains I do not fit into theory - neither in the psychology of consciousness, not the history of some science, nor in the chronological ordering of my day, not in my scholarly duties...... these problems derive from the fundamental error of rationalist philosophy... The fatal flaw is the denial of responsibility - which is to say, the crisis is at base an ethical one. It can be overcome only by an understanding of the act as a category into which cognition enters but which is radically singular and responsible. (Morson & Emerson, 1989 p. 13.)
I also feel an affinity with Bakhtin in his views of responsibility, value, human subject and intention. I agree with his view that intention does not signify a direct correlation between inner plan and outer act direct toward a specific telos:
for all deeds are connected to the deeds of others, so their meanings can never be grasped in themselves or from the point of view of a supra-situational end. (Holquist 1990, p.155).
Given these agreements I looked for points of disagreement where someone influenced by Bakhtins literary theories might not believe in my conception of my living educational theories. The main point of disagreement might be in his Notes of 1970-71 where he says:
Dialogue and dialectics. Take a dialogue and remove the voices (the partitioning of voices), remove the intonations (emotional and individualizing ones), carve out abstract concepts and judgements from living words and responses, cram everything into one abstract consciousness - and thats how you get dialectics.
I need to develop a fuller understanding of Bakhtins view of dialectics, but my own is different to the above view. In writing about dialectics cramming everything into one abstract consciousness this seems close to an Hegelian understanding of dialectics. I think the two strands of Marxist dialectics, dialectical materialism and historical materialism, explicitly rejected a notion of one abstract consciousness. I also followed Habermas rejection of the philosophical ballast of historical materialism in his Theory of Communicative Action (Habermas 1987, p. 383). Im still attached to the view of dialectics in Platos dialogues on poetic inspiration in which he writes of the art of the dialectician as a process of coming to know through question and answer. I want to develop a dialectical approach in which we hold together both our capacity to break things down into particulars and we hold things together within the integrating capacity of each I, as well as in terms of general ideas. I am working at the development of dialectical approaches to educational knowledge and theory which can include I as a living contradiction, the nucleus of dialectics, in accounts of educational enquiries of the form, How do I improve what I am doing? and How can I help you to improve your learning?.
In July 1996 (T.E.S. 12/7/97) I asked colleagues to question my claim that the living educational theories of practitioner researchers associated with the educational action research programme at Bath, were producing the most valid educational theories in the world which had the capacity to explain their own professional learning and educational development. This symposium is aimed at showing you where you might access the evidence which could enable you to test the validity of the above claims in relation to the creation of living educational theories and in relation to the nature of the educational standards of judgement which can be used to test the validity of the claims to educational knowledge.
There is one important set of relationships in legitimating the above claims to educational knowledge made by the individual action researchers which I have not yet mentioned. That is the external examiners who have judged the above contributions to educational knowledge. The range of individual examiners who have recommended that the researchers be awarded their research degrees include:
Richard Pring for Don Fosters M.Ed research; Richard Kimble for Paul Haywards M. Phil. ; Nancy Martin for Kevin Eames M.Phil, Andy Larters M.Phil and Margaret Jensens M.Phil.; Chris Day for Chris Waltons M.Phil.; Pam Lomax for Mary Gurneys Ph.D.; Richard Winter and Mowenna Griffiths for Moira Laidlaws Ph.D.; John Elliott for Jean McNiffs Ph.D.; Tony Ghaye for Erica Holleys M.Phil.; David Sims and Chris Day for Kevin Eames Ph.D.; Michael Bassey and Jean Rudduck for Moyra Evanss Ph.D;
I will now move on to Part Two in which I am seeking to continue to develop my professional identity in relation to the creative contribution of educational action research programmes to the reconstruction of educational theory and knowledge and the enhancement of professionalism in education and teaching.
DEVELOPING EDUCATIONAL ACTION RESEARCH PROGRAMMES ASSOCIATED WITH THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION OF BATH UNIVERSITY FROM 1 AUGUST 1997:
Developing my PROFESSIONAL IDENTITY AS A UNIVERSITY TEACHER AND EDUCATIONAL RESEARCHER in my educational action research programme.
The transformation of the School of Education into a Department of Education in a new Faculty of Humanities and Social Science together with the termination of the Action Research in Educational Research Group of the School of Education, is a convenient time to review the contributions of the Educational Action Research Programme to the reconstruction of educational knowledge, theory and research and to speculate about the future development of this research programme.
While the completed Ph.D. and M.Phil Theses and M.A./MEd. dissertations and module assignments provide evidence of the nature and progress of this educational action research programme, a powerful heuristic is only maintained in our living action enquiries as we work at improving our practice and at creating our futures. What I now want to do is to give one interpretation of ways in which our research programme might develop in its reconstruction of educational knowledge, educational theory and educational research, especially in the context of creating a professional knowledge-base for teachers and teacher educators. I also want to recognise the achievements of practitioner-researchers associated with nurse and police education and training.
Supporting this educational action research programme in local, regional, national, and international contexts.
Let me begin with local activities in the Department of Education of Bath University. On Thursday evenings for the 1997/98 academic year I will continue to convene meetings of educational action researchers and work with the groups of participants in the creation of a seminar programme.
I need to gather my thoughts together. This happens at times when I am in danger of becoming so fragmented that I cannot direct my energy with a coherent sense of purpose. You might empathise with the two kinds of experience which have influenced my fragmentation. The first concerns changes in the workplace. The Action Research in Educational Theory Research Group around which a lot of my identity in the workplace is related ceased to exist on 1st August 1997 with the transformation of the School of Education into a new Department of Education within a Faculty of Humanities and Social Science. It isn't that I didn't propose to my colleagues that the group should continue as a research group in the new Faculty. My colleagues did not accept the proposal that the group should continue as a research group in the new Department of Education. So, my present focus on our educational action research programmes is part of my need to re-establish a firmer sense of identity in the workplace, now that the Action Research in Educational Theory Research Group has ceased to be. The way I have chosen to do this is to create a sense of identity around the idea of an educational action research programme and its capacity to reconstruct educational knowledge, theory and research in relation to the processes of improving the quality of learning within our different professional and social contexts. I am using the term 'research-programme' in Lakatos' sense of a programme which may be judged for its heuristic power (Lakatos 1970, p. 137.) and continuous growth ( p. 173).
The second influence on my fragmentation is part of a creative tension I feel when the way I understand my world is too limited to accommodate the changes I am experiencing. So, in thinking about the future of our educational action research programmes I am seeking to re-create a sense of my own work-place identity and future in relation to you and your work. In this way I hope to experience a greater sense of coherence and perhaps community and certainly the generation of focused energy, in relation to me and my work. In other words I want to show you how I see myself in relation to your work in a way which celebrates your creative contribution to an educational action research programme which is helping to reconstruct educational knowledge, theory and research in the Academy, is helping to strengthen our professional knowledge-base as professional educators. I also want to explain how the research programme is also making a contribution to improving the quality of education in our different social contexts.
Let me start with my own action research into my life as a professional educator and educational researcher. A number of you have encouraged/pressurised! me into thinking about submitting a Ph.D. Thesis on my own research. Given that I have encouraged others to contribute in this way to the professional knowledge-base of education, I do accept that I should now submit another Thesis for examination. Many of you will know the story of my two earlier submissions in 1980 and 1982 on the creation of living educational theories and dialectical approaches to educational knowledge (Whitehead 1993). One of the criteria to be fulfilled in a Ph.D. examination is that the Theses should make a distinctive and original contribution to knowledge. I am now working on a Ph.D. Thesis in which I will describe and explain my own professional learning as a university teacher and researcher as I answer and research questions of the kind, 'How do I help you to improve your learning?'.
In telling my own story of my professional learning I intend to fulfil the criteria of making a distinctive and original contribution to educational knowledge in creating my own living educational theory. In doing this I hope to relate to you and your work in a way which will embrace the following views of Maggie Maclure (1996) and Patti Lather (1994a & b):
"Lather (1994) has noted that the narratives of educational research (and not just action research) are usually victory narratives. She wonders what it might mean to rethink research as a 'ruin', in which risk and uncertainty are the price to be paid for the possibility of breaking out of the cycle of certainty that never seems to deliver the hoped-for happy ending. Are the transition stories discussed above victory narratives? If so there are not vainglorious ones. But I wonder whether it is worth considering other ways that interviewees and interviewers might collaborative in the telling of life stories. The aim would not be to try to get more coherent and 'disinterested narratives, as Woods (1985) or Butt et al. (1992) want to do. (Maclure, 1996, p. 293)
As well as embracing these views I want to acknowledge the importance of the politics of educational knowledge in relation to the processes of legitimating and validating claims to educational knowledge which are based on very different assumptions about validity. Donmoyer puts the case well in his analysis of different communities of educational researchers as in a state of 'Balkanization' where there is conflict but little attempt at dialogue aimed at understanding:
"Today there is as much variation among qualitative researchers as there is between qualitatively and quantitatively orientated scholars. Anyone doubting this claim need only compare Miles and Huberman's (1994) relatively traditional conception of validity ('The meanings emerging from the data have to be tested for their plausibility, their sturdiness, their confirmability - that is, their validity' (p.11)) with Lather's discussion of ironic validity:
"Contrary to dominant validity practices where the rhetorical nature of scientific claims is masked with methodology assurances, a strategy of ironic validity proliferates forms, recognizing that they are rhetorical and without foundation, postepistemic, lacking in epistemological support. The text is resituated as a representation of its 'failure to represent what it points toward but can never reach....." (Lather, 1994, p.40-41).
Given their profoundly different views of validity, it seems unlikely that either Miles and Huberman or Lather would apply 'appropriate' criteria in assessing each other's work. " (Donmoyer, 1996, p. 21)
Having set out my intentions in relation to my own action research, how do I relate to yours? I wonder if you will recognise and accept the creative contribution I see you making to our educational action research programme.
Let me begin with James Finnegan. James is working on an enquiry into his committed service in education, as a teacher of science and mathematics in an Irish secondary school. On the 16th June 1997 James attended a transfer seminar with members of the Research Committee of the School of Education at which his paper, How do I communicate my living educational theory and my committed service in education to you? was considered. Against my recommendation the research committee decided not to recommend James for Transfer from an M.Phil. to a Ph.D. Programme and to ask for a further response to the following questions which I clarified in the following note to members of the research committee:
With the research committee deciding not to recommend James for transfer I'd like to be as clear as I can that I have understood what the committee would like to see in his next transfer report. Could you just check that the following covers what, as a member the committee you have said that you would like to see :
i) A justification of the use of a living educational theory approach to your study.
ii) An answer to the question: What are the case studies attempting to do in relation to your enquiry and how will we know that the explanation of your own professional/educational development is valid?
iii) An answer to the question: What will the outcomes of your study be? (in terms of their contribution to educational knowledge)
iv) An answer to the question: What is the significance of 'communication' in your enquiry, 'How do I communicate my living educational theory within my committed service in education to you?' Jack.
James responded with a paper answering the questions. I again strongly recommended that James should be permitted to transfer but again the research committee decided not to recommend transfer.
With the establishment of a new research committee in the new Department of Education I no longer serve on this committee. I have found most persuasive James' response to the four questions. I will ask his permission to put his response on the Web for you to judge for yourself the quality of his thinking, the quality of his contribution to living educational theory approaches to educational action research and the way in which his research programme is related to my own.
(Note:James was encouraged by Ben Cunningham to register with me at Bath. James keeps in e-mail contact with Ben and me and has visited the group of action researchers supported by Jean McNiff in Dublin)
In reconstructing part of my professional identity in relation to our educational action research programmes, I am aware of the complexity of these relationships and of my need to create some form of living order through which I can make sense of my professional work in education.
Let me begin by re-affirming some of the qualities which I carry forward into my educational action research programme. The first is the tension of the choice described by Erich Fromm (1942) in his Fear of Freedom when he said that if a person can face the truth without panic they will recognise that there is no purpose to life other than that which they create for themselves. The choice was to unite with the world in the spontaneity of love and productive work or to seek the kind of security which destroyed one's freedom and integrity. My choice to work in education was based in the experience of feeling that although I had '10' O levels, 3 A levels 2 S levels and a science degree, there had been something fundamental missing in my education. This was the feeling of being related to by my teachers as an individual who had his own centre of consciousness. I missed being taken seriously as a partner in the learning process in the sense that I could have helped the teachers to understand how to be more effective in helping me to learn. Although I passed examinations I was aware that the qualifications did not represent my educational development. I came into education with the determination to relate to my pupils as individuals who had the capacity to help me to understand how to improve their learning. I also felt a responsibility to help them engage with scientific forms of understanding in a way which 'lived' for them and which did not feel 'alien' or separated from their living experience.
I experienced the second tension which moved me into higher education and the life of a university educational researcher and teacher as I worked at my professional development through the study of educational theory at the Institute of Education of London University. My interest in professionalism in education came out of my study, 'The way to professionalism in education?' on the Diploma of Education Course at Newcastle University (Whitehead 1967). I read Ethics and Education by Richard Peters (1966) and when I began teaching in Tower Hamlets in 1967 registered for the two year part-time Academic Diploma Programme in the philosophy and psychology of education from Sept. 68. This was followed by the two year part-time M.A. programme in the psychology of education from 1970-72.
The experience of these continuing professional development programmes changed the balance of my professional interest from teaching and research to research and teaching. Contrasting my reflections on my classroom practice and educative relationships with my pupils and my explanations for my professional learning as I worked as researching and answering questions of the kind, 'How do I help you to improve your learning?', with the view of educational theory which claims that it was constituted by the philosophy, psychology sociology and history of education, convinced me that this 'disciplines' approach to educational theory was mistaken. It did not have the capacity to produce valid explanations for my professional learning as I worked at helping my pupils to improve their learning. I
decided to move into higher education to see if I could reconstruct educational theory in a way which could be related directly to the professional learning of teachers as they researched and answered questions of the kind, 'How do I improve what I am doing?'. My account of this research is in the book, 'The Growth of Educational Knowledge: Creating your own Living Educational Theory' (Whitehead 1993). I am carrying forward into the emergent forms of our educational action research programmes, the view of living educational theories, which claims that they are constituted in the descriptions and explanations which individual learners produce for their own educational development as they answer and research questions of the kind, 'How do I improve what I am doing?'. Many of you who know something of my history understand Jean McNiff's contribution to the communication of my own research programme to a wider audience, through her wonderful enthusiasm and commitment to writing and publication. Without the support of Pam Lomax and her acknowledgement of the value of my ideas in helping to take her own enquiries forward, I would not be feeling the life-affirming energy which is moving me to re-emerge and reconstruct my professional life in relation to our educational action research programmes.
There is one idea I want to emphasise at this point. In the past I think that I stressed at previous BERA symposia, the importance of four original ideas which many of action researchers in our two groups and beyond have found helpful within their own work. These were that:
i) you could include 'I' as a living contradiction in your enquiry and claims to educational knowledge as you answered and researched questions of the kind, 'How do I improve what I am doing?',
ii) you could break with the 'crippling mutilations imposed by an objectivist framework' (Polanyi, 1958, p.381) by taking a decision to understand the world from your own point of view as a person claiming originality and exercising your personal judgement, responsibly with universal intent (Polanyi, 1958. p.327) in a systematic form of action enquiry which involved:
a) expressing your concerns when you felt your values could be lived more fully in your practice,
b) constructing an action plan which involved gathering data which could be used to help you to evaluate the effectiveness of your practice,
c) acting on your plan and gathering data,
d) evaluating your effectiveness in relation to your values, intentions and understandings,
e) modifying your concerns, plans and actions in the light of your evaluations.
iii) you could create your own valid and living educational theories in the descriptions and explanations of your own learning in answering and researching questions of the kind, 'How do I improve my practice?'. Each of your explanations could be moved forward through time, with the help of a process of social validation, in which its comprehensibility, its concern for evidence in relation to assertions, its normative background and authenticity (Habermas, 1979) and integration of the ideas of others in related fields of enquiry, were subjected to the critical and constructive judgements of a 'validation group'.
iv) you could transcend any feeling of oppression or domination that the 'systematic' part of the action enquiry was constraining your imagination and practice, in the creation of your own unique representation and dialogical form of explanation for your educational development . These explanations constitute your own original and distinctive contributions to the professional knowledge-base of education.
As I said above there are two influences which have moved me to reconstruct my sense of professional identity. The first was the externally imposed destruction of the Action Research in Educational Theory Research Group through its elimination by colleagues in the creation of a new Department of Education within the new Faculty of Humanities of Social Science (hopefully the group can be revived!) . The second was the internal recognition that I needed a new way of relating to your own creativity in your own educational action research programmes in which I could see that we shared some central principles which distinguished our research programmes as an educational action research programme, and that these principles could be generative in assisting the growth of our community of educational action researchers and in helping to reconstruct our professional knowledge-base.
Let me begin this reconstruction of my professional identity in relation to your educational action research programmes by focusing on my practice as a Ph.D. supervisor. Terri Austin, Pat D'Arcy and Ben Cunningham are in the process of writing up their Ph.D. Theses for submission. I want to draw on my responses to their ideas in the final phase of these Ph.D. research programmes to illustrate how I am making sense of the growth of our educational research programmes in relation to my own.
Terri Austin to Jack- email - 25/8/97
I usually knew how I wanted the writing groups to be, but in reality they weren't matching my picture. My question is always, how do I get them from where they are now to my ideal picture? My reflective self moved in. I thought about each individual student and how they interacted with each other. I thought about my past experiences within a writing group. How did I interact with my colleagues? What did we do when things weren't going well and how did we continue when problems occurred? Is this similar to anything I've encountered before? Have I read something that might help my thinking? Who might know something about this? Is there anyone I know I can talk this over with to clarify my thoughts or to hear their thinking? How can I write about it, what can I say now? I found I continually had this same type of questioning with myself during each part of my study (and with all aspects of my teaching). With each question, I gained a little knowledge. Put all together I stepped forward in knowledge, sometimes in tiny increments, sometimes in giant leaps.
Jack to Terri - e-mail - 27/8/97 Dear Terri ...... I really liked your last chapter and the location of your action research within 'this whirlwind of debate and discussion'. I also particularly liked your last paragraph (above). I think it has profound implications for our understanding of how we might support the development of research-based professionalism in teaching and education. It adds something new to our understanding of professional knowledge in education. Where you say:
" I found I continually had this same type of questioning with myself during each part of my study (and with all aspects of my teaching). With each question, I gained a little knowledge. Put all together I stepped forward in knowledge, sometimes in tiny increments, sometimes in giant leaps."
I'm wondering if the readers of your thesis as a whole will need introducing to the process of questioning and knowledge generation literally in the introduction to your thesis. Do you want to leave your readers until your final paragraph to share these important insights?
I'm also wondering how to respond to:
"I'm playing around with the idea of 'growing into and out of myself'. It's the idea of needing to first discover who I am as a teacher which led to an understanding of who I am as a person. I think that's what I mean - it's late and my thinking is a bit hazy here. Anyway please take a look and let me know what you think. This is my first attempt to sort this idea out".
When I read your writing I'm reading with two purposes in mind. The first is for understanding - Have I understood Terri's meaning? The second is in relation to your thesis - Am I now clear about the distinctive and original contribution Terri has made to educational knowledge and theory and the relationship between her ideas and the ideas of others in the field?
I think the ideas of 'growing into and out of myself', 'Living space' and 'Trust' are very important. Let me respond to 'This is my first attempt to sort this idea out' in relation to your questions:
Is this similar to anything I've encountered before?
Have I read something that might help my thinking?
Who might know something about this?
I think your exploration is similar to that undertaken by Martin Buber. I have read something which I think will help your thinking here in the Chapter 'Education' of his Between Man and Man (Kegan Paul 1947, pp. 109-131). Do look at pages 124-126 where he says the relation in education is one of pure dialogue... Trust, trust, in the world, because this human being exists - that is the most inward achievement of the relation in education.... A dialogical relation will show itself also in genuine conversation, but it is not composed of this. Not only is the shared silence of two such persons a dialogue, but also their dialogical life continues, even when they are separated in space, as the continual potential presence of the one to the other, as an unexpressed intercourse.
I do think Buber 'knows' something about the qualities in educative relationships which are at the heart of human communities.
In thinking about how you are making sense of your experience in your educational enquiry I think Max Van Manen's book, Researching Lived Experience' (1990 State University of New York Press) is very important, especially his chapter on 'Investigating Experience as We Live It'.
Can you send me a copy of the abstract to your Thesis so that I can keep focusing on my understanding of its distinctive and original contribution to knowledge and its relationship to the literature in its field. On page 3 you say that you started to understand the complexity of your thesis when you started to explain it to others. You say that you would like us to share your developing awareness of yourself as a professional educator. You say that you want to share your process of coming to know, to show that it's not a straight, linear, clearly defined path, but a tangled uphill climb where getting lost is part of the process.
I like these ideas. I'm wondering if the idea of professional learning and development as a professional educator which you use at the bottom of page 2 might be a more appropriate idea than 'developing awareness'. I know that education is partly related to clarifying ideas and extending our thinking, feelings and actions, and I may be in danger of unwittingly imposing my own expectations of a Thesis onto you. But, I'm wondering if your last chapter should illustrate the way of coming to know you claim can be understood through the whole thesis. I know. I wonder if a good ending would be for you to show yourself answering the questions in the last paragraph in relation to "I'm playing around with the idea of 'growing into and out of myself'..... This is my first attempt to sort this idea out".
I'll send this off now - I'd send a copy of your final chapter to Ben - I think he will have some valuable responses which might be helpfully included, perhaps in a dialogical form in your last chapter - if you feel my suggestions are helpful. Your work is really important and I feel the enormous effort of will which has gone into its creation. Do let's see if we can help to develop a dialogical form in your last Chapter will shows a living community of school and university teacher-researchers in action. Moira is now on e-mail at home and I'd send her your final Chapter - Please copy this response to them if you want to. Love Jack.
Ben Cunningham, 27/8/97
(EXTRACTS FROM) How can I both understand and enable teachers as they attempt to introduce spiritual development in their schools?
(Originally written on 9 November 1995,
revised and abridged, 25th August, 1997)
Is there a methodological issue in this paper?
Does what I have described and explained here in this paper fit within the 'criteria' of living educational theory (Whitehead, 1993) and if not is there a way of explaining how it might in be aligned with the present criteria?.....
So having encountered 'discontinuities' in my action research practice I know that I may be in conversations with a person once, twice, maybe more, maybe less. If that is the case, and it is quite often so with me, then perhaps I have to change how I view my action research approach. What do I mean by that? One idea in action research is that I enable people to track their improvement in their practice over time to assess the quality of change and improvement taking place. If, for whatever reasons, the people I deal with are not available over time, what do I do? I am suggesting that I am the educator and I am common to the action research process, involving one or more people. So in pursuing action research with people whose commitment is 'discontinuous' for various reasons, I am saying that there are times when I can't track how I am changing and improving within one study of singularity. It is likely that I have to concentrate on how I'm changing and improving over many short studies of singularity, over different studies of singularity.
It seems to me, in the particular circumstances I have outlined, that it may be difficult for a linear, scientific form of action research to capture the improvisatory nature of life and living! It is in this spirit then that I have decided that this particular study, as short as it is, is improvisatory and I myself have to improvise as I said.
And in this context, what about this particular incident I have just written? I could have had an expectation that there would have been a series of on-going meetings when I would be enabling teachers to move their enquiries about their spiritual development forward in a developmental way. Because of the circumstances I outlined, that didn't happen. Should I then have ignored the learning that happened for me? My answer is, no. It is just that I have to consider it in a different way from how I would consider it in a study that would last for a few months or even a year. And because this particular study doesn't fit into the living educational theory pattern, does that mean then that this particular study is useless? Does it mean that I have learnt nothing from it that could enhance my personal growth? No, I have learnt a number of things in the writing of the account. I believe I wrote with some ingenuity and creativity and that this enriched the quality of my research as a whole. I believe the writing of this account responded to the practice of my living at a particular point in time. And I believe my thinking and my insights have improved as a result. My thinking, feelings and actions have responded in ways I pointed to regarding the complexity and mystery of my life as I experienced it in November, 1995.
Jack to Ben 30/8/97
Dear Ben - I enjoyed very much the whole paper where you revisit your somewhat painful experiences of the school visit in November 1995. I think you have an original contribution to make where you say:
It is likely that I have to concentrate on how I'm changing and improving over many short studies of singularity, over different studies of singularity.
I also agreed with your point:
It seems to me, in the particular circumstances I have outlined, that it may be difficult for a linear, scientific form of action research to capture the improvisatory nature of life and living!
I found myself fascinated by your statement:
And because this particular study doesn't fit into the living educational theory pattern, does that mean then that this particular study is useless? Does it mean that I have learnt nothing from it that could enhance my personal growth?
I know I was drawn to this statement because it questioned whether your learning in the study could 'fit' into your living educational theory. The way I see this narrative being part of your living theory is that it is part of the explanation which you can give for your own learning/educational development in the course of your educational enquiries. I see it contributing to the distinctive nature of your contribution to educational knowledge through the way you can relate it to your story of your educational development in terms of several studies of singularity.
Following our conversation today (9/9/97) I would like to add my response to your proposed presentation at this symposium. I think you have made a distinctive and original contribution to educational knowledge through your expression and communication of the spiritual qualities in your life which others have acknowledged have helped them in creating meaning and purpose in their own. In a way similar to that used by Moira Laidlaw in expressing and communicating the aesthetic values in her educative relationships, I think you have shown a living, spiritual standard of judgement, which itself has been living and changing as part of the process of your answering and researching your own questions. I also think you have integrated this new living standard of spiritual judgement within your claim to knowledge. Great.
20/8/97 (e-mail from Pat D'Arcy) - my final, final, final abstract!
This thesis makes an original and distinctive contribution to
reader-response theory in an educational context, with regard to the ways
in which teachers make written responses to completed stories produced by
their pupils and pupils make written responses to stories by other writers.
In the context of primary and secondary class teaching, it investigates
from an educational point of view, the kind of responses to stories that
are personally meaningful in the sense that the reader, whether teacher or
pupil, is making an aesthetic transaction with the text as defined by
Rosenblatt [1938, 1978,1985] and Iser .
Through the development of Guidelines for teachers and pupils, this
investigation seeks to elicit and to characterise such responses, on the
part of teachers to the stories pupils write and on the part of pupils to
the stories which they read. It includes detailed accounts of the
responses which teachers and pupils made to stories, as well as the
researcher's own responses and analysis.
The thesis 'maps' defining features of aesthetic response elicited during
the course of the research, which demonstrate engagement with the text on
the one hand, and an appreciation of the writer's achievements on the
This thesis also shows through the methodology of educational
Action-Research, how the researcher gradually developed her understanding
of the features which characterise aesthetic responses to stories by
teachers and by pupils, which in turn, led her to an increasing awareness
of their educational value.
Through conversations with the teachers and the pupils who participated in
the research, she also seeks to find out what, in their view, the
educational value of aesthetic responses might be with regard to the
development of pupils as story writers and story readers.
The researcher surveys the extent to which pupils are given opportunities
as story readers to make aesthetic responses in the current system of
external Tests and Examinations at Key Stages 2-4, and the extent to which
stated Assessment Objectives, Performance Criteria and Level Descriptors
acknowledge the value of such responses. She conducts a similar survey for
the assessment of pupils as story writers.
Finally, the thesis raises the question 'Does It Matter?' whether or not
aesthetic responses to stories are encouraged, on the part of teachers as
well as pupils. What are the consequences for teaching and learning of an
almost total lack of explicit reference to reader-response approaches in
the Orders for English in the National Curriculum?
Date: Thu, 28 Aug 1997 09:42:39 +0100 (BST)
From: A J Whitehead <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: Pat D'Arcy <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: Final final final version!
Hi Pat - just thinking about your final, final, final abstract:
The ways you chose to focus the central principles of organisation of your
theses are crucial.
Let me focus on the first couple of points in your abstract:
This thesis makes an original and distinctive contribution to
reader-response theory in an educational context, with regard to the ways
in which teachers make written responses to completed stories produced by
their pupils and pupils make written responses to stories by other
In the context of primary and secondary class teaching, it investigates
from an educational point of view, the kind of responses to stories that
are personally meaningful in the sense that the reader, whether teacher or
pupil, is making an aesthetic transaction with the text as defined by
Rosenblatt [1938, 1978,1985] and Iser .
In the first sentence you place your original contribution in the field of
'reader-response theory' in an educational context. In the second sentence
you place your investigation 'from an educational point of view' in the
context of primary and secondary class teaching.
I'm wondering about the balance of the relationship between
'reader-response theory' and 'educational response-theory' in your thesis.
I'm wondering whether you have broken new ground in developing a view of
'educational response-theory' which includes/integrates an engagement and
development of reader-response theory with particular reference to
aesthetic responses to pupils' stories. Hope to see you soon. Jack.
Pat's response to Jack following a meeting on 10 Sept. 1997.
From: Pat D'Arcy <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This is it!!!!
This thesis seeks to make an original and distinctive contribution to
educational reader-response theory by characterising the kind of aesthetic
responses that teachers can make to the stories their pupils write in ways
that could have educational value for the development of pupils as story
writers and as story readers.
The researcher develops Guidelines specifically designed to elicit
responses which take the effect of the story on the teacher-reader's
imagination into account, in the sense that they encourage both engagement
with the text and an appreciation of how the pupil's construction of the
story helped the reader to make that engagement.................
Hilary Shobbrook (1997) - Hilary is in the process of submitting her M.A. Dissertation in which she describes and explains her own educational development as she engages creatively with the meaning of the university criteria which will be applied to legitimate her contribution to educational knowledge. She has sent me a draft of her dissertation with the following abstract on:
How can I enable my communication through correspondence to be seen as educational and worthy of presentation in its original form? Draft M.A. Dissertation submission, June 1997
In the process of writing, this dissertation has developed a dialogue which goes some way towards explaining my own educational development. It thereby reveals my living educational theory which is grounded in my own life. I have engaged in dialectic enquiry which is progressed through ongoing dialogue and represented mainly in the form of correspondence. In the course of my dialogue, I have explored the possibility of using correspondence as a means of educational research as well as a means of representing that research.
I have included the University criteria for judging a dissertation as a subject of my debate in order to enable me to come to terms with such criteria in the context of this account. I hold the view that my personal and professional practice are inextricably linked to each other and to my life as a whole. I therefore insist that my enquiry must be natural and authentic, and fit in with my life. The result has been the discussion of the criteria within the text of an informal letter.
My contribution to educational theory has been in my attempt to show you my living educational theory grounded in my life. I have done this by providing an example of the dialogue and dialectic that is part of my life and, within this, explaining its centrality and value to me.
All practitioner-researchers who have submitted their work for higher degrees will be aware of the importance of the criteria used by the University in accepting, and hence 'legitimating', their claims to knowledge. I imagine that all examiners and members of examining boards will recognise that different interpretations can be placed by different examiners on the meaning of the same criteria. In my experience the concept of rigour is understood differently by positivist researchers and action researchers who follow Winter's (1989) six principles for defining rigour. Hilary's dissertation is a story of her use of a dialogical form of informal correspondences for describing and explaining her educational development. She shows this development in terms of an engagement with and appreciation of her meanings of the following criteria which will be used by the University of Bath to examine her dissertation:
Justify the appropriateness of the methodology to the nature of the enquiry;
Show evidence of a critical review of appropriate literature;
Show evidence of the systematic collection of valid data;
Show evidence of an ability to interpret, analyse and evaluate the data;
Demonstrate a Coherent Approach, Clarity of Thought and Quality of Argument;
Relate the Special Theme to the Wider Field of Educational Knowledge and Contribution to Theoretical Perspectives;
Draw Justifiable Conclusions Acknowledging the Limitations of the Study;
Demonstrate an Acceptable Standard of Presentation and Satisfactory Use of English.
In my judgement the draft thesis is of the appropriate level for the M.A. award. However I want to help Hilary to strengthen the way she has responded to two of the criteria, related to validity and the ability to interpret, analyse an evaluate the data.
I want to do this by seeing if I can convince her, of the value of Patti Lather's (1994, p. 40-41) view of ironic validity in understanding the dissertations contribution to educational knowledge, through the following response:
Hilary - On page 76 you ask me if you have sufficiently shown evidence of the systematic collection of data can we move on? I do think you have done this but I want to stress that the other part of the criterion concerned with showing evidence of the evidence of 'valid' data.
What I would do at the end of page 76, is to say, 'I now want to move on to the question of validity and embrace Lather's view of ironic validity.
Let me give you my interpretation of how Patti Lather's (1994) notion of ironic validity below, is appropriate for your research and how this could lead you onto the section beginning on page 77 where you claim to be showing evidence of an ability to interpret analyse and evaluate the data. I think you can do this easily without having to reconstruct the whole dissertation.
Contrary to dominant validity practices where the rhetorical nature of scientific claims is masked with methodological assurances, a strategy of ironic validity proliferates forms, recognizing that they are rhetorical and without foundation, postepistemic, lacking in epistemological support. The text is resituated as a representation of its 'failure to represent what it points toward but can never reach....' (Lather, 1994, p.40-41)
In my understanding of 'ironic validity' it means that you and I are aware that the 'embodied knowledge' we are interested in understanding, is expressed in what we do. When we 'Re-present' our knowledge, in the form of a dissertation for legitimation by the Academy, we know that it will be judged in terms of its comprehensibility and in terms of whether the claims that are made can be justified in relation to the evidence.
Here is how I think your dissertation fulfils the criterion of 'ironic validity'.
You began by rejecting the imposition of 'The University's' criteria on your work because you could not feel or understand, in the sense of an engaged or appreciative response (D'arcy 1997) the meanings of the criteria as they could be experienced by you in your 'embodied way of knowing'. When Later uses the idea of 'rhetoric' I am taking her to mean a form of argument in which the fundamental assumptions are simply taken for granted and not questioned in terms of their epistemological function as the base on which the claims to knowledge rest.
In accepting 'ironic validity' I think you have 'placed' your text, in terms of a necessary 'failure to represent what it points toward but can never reach....' , as your 'best' representation to date of the 'embodied knowing' you experience in what you do and how you live in relation to others. You have shown in your dissertation your learning as an educational action researcher as you have learnt how and why you have been able to move the claims to knowledge within your dissertation closer to your experience of your 'embodied way of knowing' in your relationships.
I think this can then move you into strengthening your response to the criterion of showing evidence of an ability to interpret, analyse an evaluate the data.
By embracing the idea of 'ironic validity' you can explain how your dissertation demonstrates your point that 'any interpretation, analysis and evaluation of an account such as this must be seen as tentative and probably tentative'. You could relate this to the idea that your learning has been integrated in the 'living form' of your dissertation as your interpretations, analyses and evaluations of your lived experience have been constantly changing in the process of your educational and personal development and in your research into this process.
For Mike Bosher on the following M.Phil./Ph.D. educational action research programme to integrate school effectiveness and school improvement research within an action research programme. Here is Mike's proposal. I have included it here to illustrate the kind of research-based professionalism I intend to continue supporting.
NAME Michael Anthony BOSHER
ADDRESS 12 Godwin Road, Stratton, Swindon Wilts SN3 4XN
QUALIFICATIONS Teaching Certificate 1967
BA (Open University) 1973
MEd (Westminster College, Oxford University) 1994
EXPERIENCE Teacher, Guthlaxton College, Leicester 1967-75
Head of PE, St John's School, Marlborough 1975-86, Head of Year 1978-88
Head of Upper School, St John's School, Marlborough 1988-present
PROPOSED DEGREE MPhil/PhD
Synthesising action research, school effectiveness and school improvement approaches in the process of improving the quality of education within a school.
How can the school help pupils of middle ability raise their level of achievement?
What price standards? Dr Nick Tate, Chief Executive, School Curriculum and Assessment Authority (SCAA) made the following statement in GM Focus Series 8 April 1996:
The current focus on ways of raising standards of achievement is wholly desirable and long overdue. p1
The issue of raising standards in education has become a focus for educational research worldwide. School improvement and school effectiveness research movements have for some time been two separate educational paradigms working towards the end of raising standards in school. In America, Great Britain, New Zealand and the Netherlands there is a distance between the two movements: it is only in Israel where there is some combination of the two approaches (Bashi et al 1990). Canada is the other area where a more concerted approach to combination is taking place. Reynolds, Hopkins and Stroll (1993) point out that one paradigm rarely takes notice of or uses the research material of the other. Researchers such as Fullan, Hall, Miles, Louis and Joyce (1991) rarely use work on school effectiveness during their work on school improvement and school effectiveness researchers like Mortimore (1991), Reynolds (1991) and Reid (1986) have not used the work of the school improvement movement in their work. The net effect being that development progress is slow. The paper argues cogently for a synergy of the two paradigms:
It is hypothesised that the further linking of these hitherto separate disciplines would advance our knowledge of how to generate high quality schools for our children p38.
To enhance this concept of synergy, this research project wants to build on the strengths of these two paradigms and add the reflective practices involved in action research. The paper by Delong and Wideman (1996) outlining the work done in some Ontario schools clearly indicated that this form of research will allow improvement to take place within the school and for each individual rather than leave improvement in practice at school or LEA level. Harris et al (1996) note that a wide range of differing traditions are beginning to converge on the theme of effectiveness and quality and this project is intending to utilise this concept to bring about improvement at an individual pupil level in one school.
The uniqueness of the project is that for the first time, the paradigms of school effectiveness, school improvement and action research movements will be combined and utilised by the reflective professional practices of a teacher in school working at department and individual pupil level to enhance performance.
History of the research need
During the academic year 1995/96 the school undertook an evaluation of the achievement of the pupils at GCSE at the end of the previous academic year. Having regard for the catchment area of the school and the socio-economic profile of many of the pupils in the school, some concern was expressed by the SMT and the Heads of Department that the school may not be providing sufficient stimulus and support for those pupils in the middle range of the examination achievement scale, to be more precise, the GCSE C/D boundary. The school felt it was desirable to re-evaluate the teaching programme and the curriculum in order to achieve this improvement. This middle of the range performance weakness was also highlighted by the OFSTED inspection of January 1996 as a cause for concern and was subsequently included in the Action Plan for the school and in all the department Development Plans. In addition, it was also thought necessary to put in place a system of objective measurement of performance in order that remedial and interventionist action could be given to the appropriate pupils by subject departments. The data will be generated from the CATS (Cognitive Ability Tests) run by the school for the whole of the Year 7 cohort for the academic year 1995/96, 1996/97 and 1997/98 and the school also wished to investigate the possibility of using an Individual Extension Plan (IEP) for all pupils if necessary, but particularly for the target group. To assist in this standard raising process a working party of interested staff was set up to investigate issues within this area and these issues will all be combined by myself to give an overall picture for the teaching staff.
The purpose of the research is to identify the pupils in year 7 who need extra help to achieve more than middle range. In addition the research will assist the school in evaluating the effectiveness of the interventionist programmes and measuring the success achieved by the pupils at the Key Stage 3 external tests. Long term it will enable the school to decide on the appropriate educational programme for pupils of all abilities, but particularly those in the target area whose future educational prospects would be enhanced by an improvement of at least one grade at GCSE.
The investigation will follow the progress of a number of current (1995/96) Year 7 pupils who were identified as being in the target attainment area on the 1995/96 CAT test and to record the changes to the teaching programme they undertake and assess the impact of this on their subsequent academic performance at the KS3 SAT tests. This information will then be carried forwards to the KS4 test at GCSE. The 'value added' factor will be used as part of the measurement of ability of these pupils. My enquiries will involve the pupils, the teachers involved in their programmes of study, the curriculum and Support Department and the parents.
I will follow the methodology of participatory educational action research which involves testing and collecting data, analysing that data, conducting an enquiry into improving the practice in the school, understanding the process of improving the practice and attempting to improve the context in which the practice is located in the school. The enquiry will be based on the use of systematic action research reflection cycles of expressing concerns, producing action plans, implementing those actions and recording the data from those actions. The changes that take place will be identified, recorded and evaluated and further action postulated in the light of the data gathered. Data will be compared from the results of educational tests undertaken (CATs and SATs), self esteem tests administered in year 6 and then annually until year 9, questionnaires for members of staff and parents, semi structured interviews, the use of a field log, examination of IEP from the target pupils and general dialogue with the professionals involved.
Bashi, J et al (1990) Effective schools: from theory to practice, Jerusalem: Nevo Publishing
Delong J and Wideman R (1996) Action Research: School improvement that honours teacher professionalism. Published in the journal 'Curriculum Directions' May 1996, published by the Ontario Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development
Fullan M (1991) The new meaning of educational change, London:Cassell
Harris A, Jamieson I and Russ J (1996) School effectiveness and school improvement, London: Pitman
Mortimore P (1991)School effectiveness research: which way at the cross roads?, in School Effectiveness and School Improvement, Vol 2 No 3 pp213-229
Reid K, Hopkins D and Holly P (1986) Towards the effective school, Oxford: Blackwell
Reynolds D (1991) School effectiveness in secondary schools, in Riddell S and Brown S (eds) School effectiveness research: messages for school improvement, Edinburgh: HMSO
Reynolds D, Hopkins D and Stoll L (1993) Linking school effectiveness knowledge and school improvement practice: towards synergy, School Effectiveness and School Improvement 1993 Vol 4 No 1 pp37-58
Tate N (1996) What price standards, GM Focus Series 8 April 1996
Whitehead J (1993) The growth of educational knowledge: creating your own living educational theories, Dorset: Hyde Publications
Wideman R (1991) How secondary school teachers change their classroom practices. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Toronto
Jack Whitehead and Jen Russ
To be accepted as a part-time student from 1 June 1996 with attendance at such lectures, seminars and sessions as his supervisors recommend.
For Jackie Delong and her educational action research programme
'How might my educational theory contribute to the professional knowledge-base of Educators and Superintendents of Schools?'
Jackie Delong, is a Superintendent of Schools in the Brant County Board of Education, Ontario, Canada. We worked together for three weeks in July on a draft report to support her transfer from an M.Phil. to a Ph.D. programme. This is what Jackie said about her research in her draft report on 25 July 1997.
I am attempting to place my work in the complexity of the theories of knowledge and find a space where I can feel that I can make an original and distinctive contribution to educational knowledge. The purpose of this paper is to justify my particular action research approach to my educational enquiry, to outline the progress of my research and to suggest ways in which the research will make a contribution to the professional knowledge-base of education.
I see my space or location in the creation of educational theory in my professional practice as a Superintendent. I am also a consumer of the knowledge of others. I translate and synthesize the work of other researchers in my thinking and practice. I seek to verify and clarify some assumptions based on practical personal and professional experiences. Once I have embraced or for that matter discarded that research base, I integrate that knowledge into my daily practice in terms of teaching, planning, advising, decision-making, collaborating or facilitating, and through explaining this practice I intend to make my own original and distinctive contribution to educational knowledge.
Basically, I seek to use the knowledge from the experts to verify, clarify, inform and improve my practice. Hence, my fundamental practical and theoretical question is, 'How do I improve my practice?'. In turn, I teach or influence the principals, parents, teachers, students, community members in the hope that this will help them to improve their own. As I teach or influence, I do not necessarily include the specific references that validate my directions, decisions or judgments unless I'm asked. However, my confidence in making them derives from both the research and my practical experience.
This paper is in three parts. In part one I situate my research process in the communities of educational action researchers who are interested in researching questions of the kind, 'how do I improve my practice?'. In part two I outline my professional context as an educator and superintendent and describe how I am constructing an explanation of my professional learning as I seek to improve my practice. In part three I speculate about some possible contributions that I may make to educational knowledge in relation to the issues of representation and legitimation in educational action research and to professional knowledge of a superintendent.
If you access my homepage on http://www.bath.ac.uk/~edsajw and go into the folder on 'Writings related to my work' you will find the joint paper I presented with Jacqui at AERA 1997 on the researcher-supervisor relationship. In this paper I analyse my learning from the experience of existing as a living contradiction. I claimed to influenced by a commitment to sustaining the quality of I-You relationships. At the same time I could be seen, on a video-tape of a validation group meeting with Jackie, to be violating this relationship within a framework I established which focused on her 'text' to the exclusion of her 'relational' way of knowing.
For Seb Bees and his educational action research programme: 'How do I improve the quality of my Year 9 class's responses to the theme of war?'
Seb Bees has just moved from Greendown School in Swindon, where he worked with his colleagues Andy Larter and Erica Holley, to become a Head of a History Department in a comprehensive school in the North East of England. You can see some of Seb's earlier action research work in the Masters Module Assignment section of my action research homepage on the Web.
Here are Seb's ideas on the Values in Historical Education from the above programme:
Values in Historical Education:
As we move towards a national History with limited status after the Dearing report I believe that as a History teacher I need to understand and present to my students the positive value of a historical education. This I believe to be a process which allows the individual to develop their understanding of their world in the past in the hope of creating a better future. The possibility of making a better future revolves around the fact that in studying History we might be able to prevent the repetition of those mistakes we abhor in our world. We have to listen to the voices from the past in order to find out where our future is.
My concern is that as we develop the idea of a national History that we will lose that part of History which allows people to control the future in a way that prevents the repetition of traumatic events. If we take the study of the First World and Second World Wars as key topics in understanding our world today, they will need to be understood in a balanced way especially as time distances us from the experience of war. Already we have begun to lose an appreciation, through the continued exposure in films and television news, of the nature of war and its consequences. I believe we live in a society where 'ersatz' violence has become acceptable and the prospect of war has become as glorious as at the start of the century. This represents a tension for me in the classroom as I teach these topics because my own beliefs are that war is not fun. It could be so easy to reinforce the view of war being fun without consequences. At the same time I don't want my teaching of these topics to be unbalanced to represent my own views. So, how do I let the History speak in a way that allows students to understand the real nature of war? How can they experience for themselves the trauma of war?.......
My strategy was to build up slowly a knowledge of life in the trenches then ask the class to make a response to various poems. I was interested in trying to achieve a dialogue with the class about their experiences as well as developing their empathy. My intention was to ask them to write a reflective journal on the lessons and respond to their comments. I also asked them to take on a role as a British soldier who was writing a diary of different events before and during the way. I have decided to show the development of understanding and empathy with the soldiers through the reflections of two members of the class. Mark who is a very able student with the ability to process written information easily and had shown good writing skills. Samantha who struggled with processing written information and communicating her ideas.
Seb - I do think your full paper communicates clearly the way you use the value of empathy as an educational standard of judgement. You also show the way your own learning about the meaning of empathy develops in the process of working at improving the quality of your Year 9 class' responses to the theme of war.
In relating your research programme to our knowledge-base as professional educators I think you could explicitly set the scene for your enquiry within a contribution to this knowledge-base through referencing the recent work of the Teaching Training Agency and the Dearing Report's recommendation on the need for a new national framework of continuing professional development. I will also respond to your latest e-mail and make suggestions on the way in which your work can receive further accreditation within the modular master's programme.
For Cathie Woodward and her educational action research programme
Cathie is speaking on her own behalf at this symposium and will present her own paper on 'Supervision and educative relationships: a case study'. Before her appointment at Anglia Polytechnic University, over two years ago, Cathie was a colleague of Pam Lomax and Zoe Parker at Kingston University. With her move to Anglia, Cathie registered at the University of Bath for her M.Phil/Ph.D. programme.
This morning (9/9/97), as I was in the process of writing this paper, Cathie rang to talk through three ideas she wanted to include in her presentation to the Symposium. She explained that she wanted to understand more fully the I-You relationship. She wanted to explore how her values influenced her practice and she said that she wanted to improve her practice as a supervisor of student teachers.
Cathie - I hope you find this helpful:
If you ask a question of your students of the form, 'How can I help you to improve your practice/learning?', and research the process of question and answer, I think you will be able to develop your understanding of I-You relations because the question is addressed directly to the other. If you look at Frances Hardy's title I think you will see the kind of language which you sometimes fall back into which removes your 'I' from a direct engagement with the questions you want to ask. I think this is related to recognising 'the crippling mutilations imposed by an objectivist framework' (Polanyi, 1958, p. 381) and to developing our abilities to use language in a way which communicates the meanings of our fundamental values. I think this is something which Zoe Parker is working towards and I draw attention to this in my response to Zoe below. In developing our language we may need to include more visual and embodied forms of knowing which video and multi-media computer technology give us the opportunity to develop. I know this may seem far removed from a point I made to you some time ago about your ability to communicate in the way Samuel Beckett communicated in his Not-I (Beautifully interpreted by Billie Whitelaw). If you can get a video of that performance I think you will see what I mean in relation to understanding your authentic supervision and educative relationships.
I also think you are right to seek to modify my language and forms of expression when you feel that they are contributing to the 'Balkanisation' of educational research. I still feel a problem however, in the context of the politics of educational knowledge, when there is a conflict between examiners of educational action research programmes and judgements about the award of a degree, acceptance of a research proposal, or recommendation for transfer from an M.Phil. to a Ph.D. programme are being made. This takes us into the debates in Educational Researcher (Donmoyer 1997) about whether AERA should engage in Advocacy in the sense of direct involvement in political policy and decision making.
I think you have an important contribution to make in taking the ideas forward from the AERA 1997 Symposium on Alternative (Re) presentations of Data; issues of the Moral, the Ethical and the Aesthetic (Donmoyer, 1997). I am thinking of moving from such data to its integration in knowledge claims about your professional learning as you answer and research your questions of the form, 'How can I help you (my students) to improve their learning?'.
In addition to the developing conversations with the above researchers whose programmes I am supervising I am sure that the following individuals and forums will be increasingly significant in helping me to develop, question and perhaps transform my own educational action research programme:
1) With Professor Pam Lomax, the Kingston Hill Action Research Group and the consultancy with staff and research students to promote action research at Kingston University 1993/1998
Pam Lomax is Professor of Educational Research at Kingston University and President-elect of the British Educational Research Association. She has enabled me to teach on the action research programmes at Kingston and to be a supervisor for the higher degree research programmes of Moyra Evans, Linda Curtis, Frances Hardy, John Loftus, Michael Luetchford, Marian Nicholas and Sava Savvitch Lee. I will be saying more about most of these research programmes below. The support I receive from Pam is difficult to describe. Those of you who have experienced our public responses to each other have sometimes been alarmed by the ferocity of our exchanges! I know that my direct experience of the encouragement she gives to her students to engage with my ideas is a source of affirmation. I am meaning affirmation in the sense of the release of productive energy which helps to motivate a passionate commitment and enthusiasm for education and educational research.
For the last four years and for the coming year it is possible for me to provide support for the development of the educational action research programmes at Kingston. This is possible because of a consultancy arrangement between Kingston and Bath Universities which enables me to offer tutorials and participate in seminars and workshops for six, two day sessions every six weeks over the year.
Last Saturday 6 Sept. 1997, I responded to a presentation by Professor Mike Gibson, the Head of the School of Education on "The importance of practitioner research in the present climate of change". When I consider the need to develop multi-media forms of presentation for communicating the spiritual, aesthetic and ethical values in educational standards of judgement, I want to return to the significance of the 6th September 1997, the day that millions of people are likely to remember with various images, including those of human warmth, care and compassion, with Diana Spencer.
In his presentation Mike Gibson explained why he valued the inclusion of a variety of different paradigms of educational research in the School of Education at Kingston. He focused on the central importance of 'validity' in making contributions to knowledge of our subject, education. He placed the work of the School in the present social context of responses to the Dearing (1997) report on Higher Education and expressed his commitment as Head of School to help with the strengthening of the research culture within the School. This Symposium enables me to expand on the response I made to Mike Gibson. I am hoping that my response will help to strengthen the research culture in the School and focus attention more widely on a national need to create professional knowledge-bases which can be related directly to the processes of improving the quality of education in a variety of professional contexts.
I want to explain more fully the case I made for the development of the educational action research programmes at Kingston through a focus on the reconstruction of educational knowledge and theory in relation to the development of a professional knowledge-base for university, college and school, teachers and researchers.
Like Mike Gibson I think the recommendations of the Dearing (1997) report should be taken seriously. In particular I am thinking of the recommendation to construct a new national framework for teacher education which includes both the national framework of professional qualifications being developed by the Teacher Training Agency and university accredited programmes leading to further professional qualifications including M.A., M.Ed., M.Phil. & Ph.D. Degrees. Let me explain why I think that Kingston University's School of Education is particularly well placed to contribute to research-based professionalism in education through strengthening its professional knowledge-base in the the educational action programmes of its staff and research students.
Let me begin with the original contributions to educational knowledge and theory in the collaboration in the action research programmes of Pam Lomax, Zoe Parker and Moyra Evans. Pam and Zoe are full time members of academic staff. Moyra Evans is a part-time tutor at Kingston University and Deputy Head of Denbigh School in Milton Keynes. Moyra's original contributions include her Ph.D. Thesis, described above. Pam and I jointly supervised Moyra throughout her research.
The point I stressed in responding to Mike Gibson was that some Kingston staff and research students already had national and international reputations from their publications and presentations at BERA and AERA which were not reflected in the 2 grading, awarded in the last Research Assessment Exercise. The School has responded to these judgements by focusing their attention on teacher research, teacher education and social justice. The particular strength I have seen in the research-base at Kingston is the willingness of so many university teachers to research their own practice and to support the action research programmes of Headteacher-researchers, Inspector-researchers and other practitioner researchers. Like Moyra Evans (1995), Pam Lomax (1997) and Zoe Parker they are creating their own living theories of their professional learning as they answer and research questions of the kind, 'How do I improve my practice?'.
This is what I say about their original contributions to educational knowledge and theory:
"The originality of their practitioner research is that they resolve the problem of creating educational theories which can be related directly to improving the quality of education in school and university. Through conversational forms, which include traditional standards of academic rigour, they account for aspects of their practices as professional educators in ways which are directly related to helping pupils and students improve the quality of their learning. They emphasise the centrality of negotiating the standards of practice, learning and educational judgement which they use in forming their educative relationships and improving their own and their pupils' and students' learning" (Whitehead, 1997, p. 37).
Their colleagues Tony Sewell and Christine Callender (1997), share a passion for social justice and have a research strength in critical social theory and critical ethnography. Insights from the hermeneutic and phenomenological traditions of research, such as those supported by Van Manen (1990), can be acknowledged and integrated within the creation of the living educational theories of practitioner researchers. Christine's new book was launched yesterday at this Conference.
Staff at Kingston such as Mike Newby, recently retired, have contributed to the educational action research programmes through their philosophical critique of the fundamental assumptions of the living theory approaches, (Newby, 1994, Whitehead, 1996). The process of answering such critiques has been invaluable in helping to strengthen the approaches and shows the willingness of our action research community to transcend the barriers to dialogue which can be experienced within the present 'Balkanisation' of educational research (Donmoyer, 1996). I also want to return below to the significance of the 1997 AERA Symposium, chaired by Robert Donmoyer, on Alternative (Re) presentations of Data: issues of the Moral, the Ethical and the Aesthetic, for the development of new educational standards of judgements, as I suggest how the educational action research programmes at Kingston University could strengthen their national and international reputations as making distinctive and original contributions to educational knowledge.
Before I do that I want to respond to some of the research programmes of Kingston Research-students to explain how they could contribute to a new national framework of teacher education which valued the professional knowledge-base of education. I am thinking of the research programmes and living theories of Linda Curtis, Head of a Special School; Frances Hardy, Head of a Catholic Primary School; John Loftus, Head of a Primary School; Michael Leutchford a lecturer in Further Education; Margaret Follows, Head of an Infants School; Marian Nicholas a secondary school teacher and Terry Hewitt, a technology teacher. I hope you will identify and feel part of the personal form of my response. The responses have added significance for me because I identify the underlying educational values in these research programmes with the qualities of human warmth, love, care and compassion which were expressed by millions throughout the world on the day on which staff and research students at Kingston were helping each other to take their enquiries forward. I am thinking particularly of Margaret Follows, Terry Hewitt, Bernadette Igboaka, Jessica Johnson, Rod Linter, Zoe Parker, Victoria Perselli and Cathie Prest, who responded with such care and commitment to Gwyneth Daniel's account "On doing my Ph.D.".
For Linda Curtis and her research programme:
When we talked about your July 1997, paper on Autistic Pupils - provision and teaching in a local authority, I suggested that we might make a joint presentation to the International Conference of the Collaborative Action Research Network (October 17-19, 1997). I felt that this might be one way in which I could support your enquiry: 'How can I influence change in a county education system to enhance the provision for and teaching of autistic pupils?'. Here is the abstract of your paper and my response:
"This paper demonstrates the way a head teacher has developed her professional learning by using a consortium of fellow head teachers as a mechanism of change within a Local Education Authority. The focus discussed shows the way that the parties involved were able to -
* come to a shared understanding of their needs in the field of autism
* develop their political role to influence change within the authority
* help to instigate the changes
* effect the professional development of staff re autism in the special schools involved
* provide the increased provision needed
* ensure that the teaching and needs of autistic pupils were enhanced within their schools
It also demonstrates the way a researcher head-teacher and her supervisor worked together."
I was so pleased to see that the 'writing block' we talked about in July has been overcome. I wonder if our suggestion that you write as if in a personal letter to us both was helpful? I liked your questions on page 12: 'What have I learnt about the politics of change in an LES? How has our consortium worked to influence change? What was the process and how can this process be improve? Has the LEA changed? How have I developed? How do all these uncoordinated parts influence the whole to make things happen? I also related closely to the claims to educational knowledge you wanted to validate.
The Severe Learning Difficulties consortium has made a major contribution in:
* Developing Continual Professional Development for teachers in the consortium in the field of Autism.
* Providing a higher quality of teaching for autistic pupils in the consortium schools.
One area I think you could make your own distinctive and original contribution to educational knowledge, is in a narrative of your professional learning as you describe and explain how you answered and researched your question, 'How can I influence change in a county education system to enhance the provision for and teaching of autistic pupils?'.
It seems to me that you are in a position of researching your educational leadership and influence, whilst exercising a 'system's responsibility' in relation to the professional development for teachers in the field of autism and in relation to improving the quality of the educative experiences of pupils with autism.
In relation to the strengthing of the educational action research programmes at Kingston University I think your living educational theory could show how a new national framework for continuing professional development could integrate the professional qualifications promoted by the Teaching Training Agency, with the academic and professional qualifications accredited by Kingston University. One contribution of your research to this integration could be focused on your analysis of your influence in supporting the development of the new course for a mandatory qualification for teachers of pupils with autism and for teachers in schools for the management of pupils starting in October 1997 and counting for a quarter of a Masters' Degree.
There are at least two important ways of enhancing the status of the profession; having a system of professionally accredited qualifications such as those promoted by the TTA which are linked to pay and promoted posts; having and contributing to the growth of the professional knowledge-base of education in a way which encourages the expression and public acknowledgement and legitimation of the values which motivate our committed service to education (Finnegan 1997). As a Headteacher and part-time tutor at Kingston University your own research-based professional development could focus partly on your work as a university teacher and Headteacher as you contribute to the construction, implementation and evaluation of a curriculum for teachers of pupils with moderate and severe learning difficulties. This research could also contribute to our professional knowledge-base in the description and explanation of your professional learning as you fulfilled your 'system responsibilities' and engaged with researching your own professional development.
There are a couple of ways you might help your readers in the presentation of your accounts. The first is in helping your readers to understand the values which motivate your own committed service to education. Why are you so committed to helping pupils with moderate and severe learning difficulties? The second is in helping your readers with a few signposts/headings to help them make sense of the way the many different parts of your enquiry are held together within your one enquiry. I did like the way you integrated the quotations from Anthea Millett and the TTA conference discussion paper. They focused my attention on how you saw your enquiry within a national context. I'm also hoping that this booklet might help you to see how your enquiry can be related to the work of educational researchers in an international context.
For Frances Hardy and her research programme
I enjoyed our discussion on your transfer paper and identified closely with your points about the original aims of the thesis and in the conclusion:
An investigation of the Headteachers' role in its facilitation of the distinctive identity of a Catholic School.
"In 1993, when I began my research, I intended to identify what makes a Catholic school different to a county school or a Church of England one and, through an examination of my practice, to clarify the role of the Headteacher in developing and leader the school towards that distinctive nature. Having established this distinctiveness, I intended, using action research methods, to aim to improve this distinctive Catholic aspect of the school. I was fully aware of the fact that I did however have to satisfy the requirements of the National Curriculum, the Catholic Church and the Ofsted Inspectors......
When I began this research, I thought that I understood my faith and what I was doing as the Head of a Catholic school. I was not complacent but confident! Over the last few years I have come to realise that I was almost on 'automatic pilot' teaching the Catholic faith without all the background information. I had a Certificate to show that I was qualified to teach in a Catholic school but that was all.
Yet the children were receiving as good an education in my school as in any other, in fact, if Ofsted inspection reports, academic achievements, sporting achievements and the local reputation were anything to go by, better than most.
But the knowledge I have acquired in the last few years has made me realise how much more I can do for the children in my care. I want to help to improve all their educational experiences, especially those relating to the development of their faith...
I therefore believe that this research will be beneficial, not just to the children in my school, but to fellow Catholic Primary School Headteachers who also wish to provide their children with firm foundations on which to build their faith."
My response: In the educational action research programmes I support at Bath, I have paid particular attention to the nature of the spiritual, aesthetic, ethical, logical, political, economic, curricula and use values in the educational standards of judgement we use to test the validity of our living educational theories. I do think you have a distinctive and original contribution to make to our educational knowledge in expressing, defining and communicating the spiritual values which your bring into your educational influence as an educational leader, exercising her 'system responsibilities' in a school and beyond.
There is something I'd like to stress in transforming your title into an action research enquiry. I think there is an interesting matter of principle involved which is related to the politics of educational knowledge.
As I listen to you talk about your enquiry it seems to me that the fundamental question you are interested in answering and researching is, 'How do I improve my understanding of my educational leadership as a Headteacher in a way which can enhance the quality of my facilitating of the distinctive identify of a Catholic School?'
I think this is clearly different to your present title which isn't in the form of a question and whose conceptual language of 'The Headteachers' Role', has eliminated your 'I' from the title. Could I urge you to embrace an educational action research question for your title!
Could I also urge you to extend your reading into the forms of the professional knowledge-bases of education. I think you have a significant contribution to make to these forms of knowledge. Chapter 10 of Kevin Eames' thesis might be a good place to start. You can download this chapter into an Apple-Mac from my action research homepage http://www.bath.ac.uk/~edsajw
Do please read my response to Linda Curtis. I think you will see that the points I'm making about Headteacher-researchers and their contributions to the professional knowledge of teaching and the educational action research programmes at Kingston University can be related clearly to your own commitments.
For John Loftus and his research programme
I was sorry to miss you on Saturday. Do please send on any writings you would like me to respond to. If you read my responses to Linda and Frances I think you will appreciate why I am so enthusiastic about your contribution to our professional knowledge-base. To have four Headteachers, (including Margaret Follows with her work as an infant headteacher and her interest in helping to improve the educational provision for summer-born children in the early years), researching their own professional practice, gives us the opportunity of helping to strengthen the national and international reputation of the contribution of educational knowledge of researchers associated with Kingston University's School of Education.
I think your work is particularly significant because of the way you have focused on the economic relationships within the context of market-led educational policies and in relation to your own educational values. I think many Headteachers and other teacher researchers will identify with your professional learning as you have carried out your enquiries into how to ensure the survival of your school in a period of transition, through the use of marketing strategies, whilst at the same time working to protect and enhance the quality of educational provision within the school. You will see that I have advised Frances to read Kevin Eames' Chapter 10 on issues concerning the nature of professional knowledge in education. I think you will enjoy this Chapter and find it useful in locating your distinctive and original contribution to educational knowledge.
For Marian Nicholas and her research programme
I was delighted to read your transfer paper and do think that your question and abstract below, will be of interest to other teachers. I do hope they stimulate them to read the whole paper. It might help to communicate your ideas if the paper appeared on an action research page on the Web. Let me know if you want some help with this. Here is Marian's abstract from her transfer paper together with my response:
How can I support New Commonwealth and International Pupils' Education in order to improve the quality of their education? An Action Research Approach
Abstract: This paper aims to demonstrate my progress in researching this topic and the extent to which the develop of theory, data collection and action taken, establishes my application for transfer from M.Phil to Ph.D.
Making explicit the implications of the research question, in my own context as a Section 11 teacher, and the pertinence of action research as the most appropriate methodology will be discussed. Reference to the literature and Inservice training will illustrate the nature of the study as well as its implications for wider educational and social issues.
By explaining the research process I aim to demonstrate how a Section 11 teacher works in a school but also how she hopes to provide an understanding of how New Commonwealth (NCW) pupils and bilingual learners may gain access to the National Curriculum (NC) within mainstream classrooms.
I hope to show how, as a practising teacher, I have developed living educational theory (Whitehead 1985) based on my educational practice which contributes towards a small original claim to knowledge. Throughout the paper I am to demonstrate how practice/theory and fictional/real stories about pupils and autobiographies of teachers led me to a new understanding of NCW heritage and bilingual pupils' experiences.
These strands support my educational values, have validity and are transferable within my own educational practice. The validity operates in cooperation with teacher collaborators, and contains the basis of my original claim to knowledge. My claim is that English as a Second Language (ESL) or English as an Additional Language (EAL) teaching is not only about teaching the English language but should be contained within the NC taking into account pupils' feelings about themselves and others. The NC caters mainly for academic needs. A pupil who speaks another language at home or one newly arrived in the UK needs, in my experience, help with their social, emotional and psychological growth. Responses to pupils' and teachers' feelings and autobiography can reinforce the educative process where reflexivity acts as a liberating force for both pupil and teacher.
My response: I'm wondering if you might like to extend the analysis of the significance of your research and consider its contribution to the creation of a publicly validated professional knowledge-base for teaching. I do think that Chapter 10 of Kevin Eames Ph.D. (see the response to Frances Hardy on how to access it) and the whole of Moyra Evans' Ph.D. as well as Erica Holley's M.Phil. (these can be accessed from the same Web site) could be important sources for the development of your analysis of your contribution to the development of our professional knowledge-base.
I'll let Jean McNiff know how valuable you found her ideas below. Jean is working in Ireland this week supporting teacher-researcher groups.
"I find myself in agreement with McNiff's theory of 'generative' action research (1988) as a means of considering a number of initiatives at the same time. Her 'spin off' diagram (1988, p.45) allows for spontaneous happenings. This is represented visually by McNiff as a spiral column indicating the main issue with spin off spirals showing other issues which may need to be addressed before the main issue." (Nicholas, 1997, p. 10).
For Michael Luetchford and his research programme
I continue to be inspired by the sustained commitment you have shown to your students in the face of all the constraints placed upon Further Education which have exacerbated the tensions in your field of interest: 'Education and Anxiety in further Education for Refugees and Asylum Seekers' . I know you have felt, like Linda Curtis, the constraints of not having time for your research and writing, and I was delighted to hear that you might now be able to give more time to these over the next year.
I identified with your paper on Student Values, in which your students from Ethiopia and Somalia described their experience in terms of entering 'The World of Chaos':
"The shattering experience of being distanced from a known environment into a new and unknown society, whereby emanation is displaced from its position of importance in the student's life and educational experience, is described by this student group as "the world of chaos"......
This gap in appreciation of the religious significance in educational values between a refugee/asylum seeker student and the teacher has the potential for creating continuing anxiety in the student. By failing to use the appropriate language the teacher forces the student to take avoiding action.... This situation can be compared with a person being told especially good news which will bring advancement and gain, but who is not in a position to take advantage of the good fortune which has come to them."
I'm wondering how to help you to construct the narratives of your professional learning as you answer and research your questions on how to improve the educational experience of your refugee and asylum seeking students in the context of Further Education. If you read all of this section on the Kingston Hill Action Research Group, I think you will appreciate that my responses are influenced by the way I see you contributing to the strengthening of the educational action research programmes at Kingston by adding your study of 'singularity' (Bassey 1995) to the professional knowledge-base of the action-research collection at Kingston.
I think it is particularly important that the values which constitute your 'educative-relationships' with your students are expressed, defined and communicated in the process of constructing your narrative. Moira Laidlaw has done this well in relation to her educational values in her Ph.D. Thesis on 'How can I create my own living educational theory as I offer you an account of my educational development?'.
The other thesis which I think might inspire and help you in the discovery of the appropriate form for your own narrative is Erica Holley's M.Phil. Thesis on , 'How do I as a teacher-researcher contribute to the development of living educational theory through an exploration of my values in my professional practice?'
I think you will find Moira's work particularly helpful in understanding how to construct a narrative in which your values can be experienced as living standards of educational judgement which have the potential for change and development themselves. I think you will find Erica's thesis helpful in showing that each individual action researcher may feel the need to create their own unique form of representation for the communication of the description and explanation of their own professional learning and contribution to educational knowledge.
For Zoe Parker and her research programme
You sometimes delight and dismay me simultaneously! I'll put the positive first because the delight is a central motif for me - Let's compare that with your:
My Ph.D has been and continues to be a struggle and a joy. I put the negative first because the struggle is the central motif for me - the joy is the peripheral or deferred pleasure of coming to terms with the struggle. (Parker 1997 )
Because of the way you are willing to embrace the significance of the personal in your professional practice and educational enquiry I think you have a profound contribution to make to educational knowledge and theory. I don't have any doubt about it. This is part of my delight in your company and my enjoyment in responding to you. When I say if feel dismay with your paper I am not being of you. It is with my frustration that I have yet to find an appropriate response which can help you to develop your confidence in the quality of your own judgements about your writing. In other words I'd like to see if I can help you to develop your own self-set standards of judgement and to develop your confidence in using these standards in relation to your own auto/biography of your own learning. Let's see if you find this helpful. What I will do is to move from within your own categories, in the way you have constructed your paper, 'Learning to write without worrying about being right'. (Parker 1997), to a response in which I am going to make some assertions about the values I see embodied in you and your work and in which I think you could have the confidence
to use as your own self-set standards to judge the quality of your own accounts. I think your values can be related to many of the individual expressions of love, warmth, care and compassion we witnessed through the images on the television in response to the identification with these values, in the work of Diana Spencer with aids patients, lepers, the homeless and landmine victims, and which were felt and expressed by millions.
Here are the values I see within your own categories, which I certainly can identify with as worthy educational standards of judgement.
Zoe - Making one value explicit:.... The one that stands out for me and returns first to memory now is integrity.... I begin to understand why I have been labelled a telephone junkie, why I need to connect, reconcile and contain differences, jump across the gap from self to other. This piece will be about both writing and righting my self.
Jack - I'd have confidence in your value of integrity, in showing the meanings of the value of integrity as they develop and are clarified in the course of their emergence in your living practice and relationships with yourself and others. I think you have a firm sense of integrity grounded in your connection with others in loving relationships. I think you suffer a violation to your sense of integrity in the loss of loving relationships. See if it makes sense to stand firm, with confidence, in your expression and communication of integrity within your auto/biography of your learning. In your answer to your question, 'What does integrity mean to me as a value?' I think you are already using integrity, as a standard of judgement in your own writing.
Zoe - Finding a language .... My history is that I was brought up bi-lingual. What this meant for me was that there was never only one answer, only one way, only one word, only one sensibility. Something else and other was always possible. More than that, I early rejected bi-polarism because I contained both two different possibilities for 'languaging', but also and more crucially the third - not some franglais - but a sense of language which both encompassed and surpassed the two languages available to me as a child.
Jack - I'd retain the confidence that your thesis will be expressed in a language which both encompasses and surpasses the two languages available to you as a child. The way I see your contribution to the development of a new sense of language in educational research is in relation to the ideas in Part One where I say:
"I'm still attached to the view of dialectics in Plato's dialogues on poetic inspiration in which he writes of the art of the dialectician as a process of coming to know through question and answer. I want to develop a dialectical approach in which we hold together both our capacity to break things down into particulars and we hold things together within the integrating capacity of each 'I', as well as in terms of general ideas. I am working at the development of dialectical approaches to educational knowledge and theory which can include 'I' as a living contradiction, the nucleus of dialectics, in accounts of educational enquiries of the form, 'How do I improve what I am doing?' and 'How can I help you to improve your learning?'."
I do think the dialogical and dialectical form of the autobiography of your own learning, which is about both writing and righting your self, provides you with a standard of judgement about a form of writing which both permits and enables you to do both. Why not have confidence that you are already demonstrating in your writing that you are already doing both?
Zoe - Authorship ... I have been thinking a great deal about authorship and my expressed need to write an acceptable version of myself. The roots of this idea of writing myself go back to the beginning of my Ph.D. Even before I proposed the topic I am now studying, I had submitted a proposal to another university for a Ph.D. which drew on the two principal strands in my education to that date: psychological perspectives and literary perspectives. I had proposed to explore some of the ways in which authors construct themselves through different kinds of writing. I had wanted to look at the different kinds of selves which emerge through different kinds of writing. The kinds of writing I proposed to explore were the most intimate kinds: personal journals and diaries and autobiographical writing. I wanted to compare the self an author constructs for her own eyes in a private journal with the self she creates in the more public form of an autobiography. Further to this I wanted to compare the yet more public self which exists inside the fictional characters an author creates out of the many possibilities of ways of being she can envisage. This was to be about the construction of identity through the creation of texts, the kinds of selves one can produce for different audiences and in different genres.
Jack - What could be more appropriate for a Ph.D. in education than a study in which the educator focuses on the maxim 'Educator Know Thyself'? What could be more appropriate for an educational action research programme than an enquiry into the educational development of an educational action researcher? It seems to me that you have defined the unit of appraisal in your distinctive and original contribution to educational knowledge. I am thinking of the writing of a Ph.D. Thesis which shows how the author is composing her own life within her professional, personal and other social relations.
Zoe - Making myself revisit understandings (or order from chaos?) ..... I like the way Powell (1997: 139) writes about this issue: "What underlies this brief autobiographical note and why have I chosen to present it in this way? one response might be .... to be self indulgent and to present ... certain aspects of my life which seem meaningful for me and enable me to make sense of where I find myself at this point in time. All this is true" (my emphasis). I find this an unusual affirmation of the need to indulge oneself in order to understand where one is now and I think she also implies how to move forward from that recognition.
Jack - I wonder if you could extend the care you express in your living relationships into the relationship of the communicability of your text for your intended readers. It seems to me that you are aware of the importance of revisiting understandings and of making sense of your own educational development partly in terms of your understanding of your own learning. It might be that you would find it helpful to explicitly embrace the decision to understand the world from your own point of view as a personal claiming originality and exercising her judgement with universal intent as the basis of your personal knowledge (Polanyi 1958). You
might also find it helpful as you revisit your understandings and communicate their changes and development, to embrace Habermas' (1979) concerns that your account should be comprehensible, your assertions should be backed up with evidence, the value base of your account should be made explicit and justified and your account should be authentic. You might bring these qualities together in your care for your reader.
Zoe - Owning my learning, owning up to learning - It seems strange to me now to recognise that there is a fundamental developmental process inherent for me in pursuing my Ph.D. Whereas when I set out on this particular journey, I had the idea that it would be a way of pursuing in depth a set of ideas and developing a sharper, deeper way of thinking around an area which fascinated me, but which stayed separate and different from anything fundamental about who I am ; now I feel more wholistic about the enterprise of learning, more that it matters who I am and this will affect what I can absorb into my being, which latter is my current definition of learning. It has become learning to be in the world and no longer learning about the world. As a long while ago i decided that the point of life is to learn, I find it strange that I had not really internalised the need for consonance between one's thinking and doing. Perhaps that is the heart of action research's appeal for me: a return to integrity.
Jack - I think you have established another standard of judgement in which you can have confidence in judging the quality of your account. I like your way of writing about this standards in terms of learning with integrity.
Zoe - A love/hate relationship with education - .... I wish to reclaim education from the (my and its) inside as a personal and political act... I have written elsewhere about why I should dare to judge the work of others when they are clearly working within a value position which I would endorse and wish to strengthen. This doubt still haunts me every time I have to mark someone else's work. Perhaps there is something about this doubt which leads me to be ineffectual when it comes to judging my own work?
Jack - the issue of judging one's own work or the work of others can raise complex issues of personal and political power, ethics and appropriate criteria. In judging your own work through the criteria of learning with integrity I do think you have a clear standard through which you can make your judgements with confidence. Judging the work of others is more problematic. If you are judging the work from within an educative relationship then you could offer your judgements within the same self-set standard of learning with integrity. You could offer your judgements with the intention of helping the other to move their learning forward, whilst developing your understanding of the values used by the other to constitute their learning as 'educational'.
Zoe - The string of beads - Again and again I return to an image which someone told me they held for Ph.D. study: the string of beads..... I can imagine the beads as symbolising my written dissertation because each chapter could be one bead on the necklace. Each bead means little on its own but strung together with its companions it makes sense. The dark and light could represent different points of view in a dialectical argument; not simply contradictory points of view but shades of the same idea which make greater sense when brought together in relation to each other.
Jack - it seems to me that you have found an appropriate form for representing your living educational theory. You have found a form which can hold your description and explanation of your own learning as you answer and research your question about writing an acceptable version of your self.
Zoe - The thesis as authorship - One idea coming to the surface now concerns the importance of the personal and individual in auto/biographical writing but also this personal text is written for a social purpose, eg. to provide a model of character for the edification of children and young adults...... but also more profoundly social in that writing for others to read is a deeply social act of reaching out to be listened to and responded to by others even if only in one's imagination as one writes.
Jack - I enjoyed the way in which you related your ideas on authorship, in the extended paper from which I have quoted the above extracts, to the work of Philippa Salmon. This was certainly of the appropriate standard for a Ph.D. Thesis. it seems to me that you can have confidence in applying this standard of judgement to your accounts in relation to your capacity to relate your ideas to the ideas of others. As you fulfil your intention of relating your ideas to those of others such as Maureen Pope and Pam Denicolo, as well as Carl Rogers and C.W. Mills I think you will fulfil the educational criterion of extending your cognitive range and concern (Peters 1966).
For Terry Hewitt and his action research programme on 'sustaining support for teacher researchers: perspectives on networking'.
Terry has described his research in the following terms:
My research has centred on the pursuit of tentative questions rather than conclusive answers. The purpose of the research is two fold: to improve my practice (and understanding of that practice) as a teacher and at the same time to contribute to the rationality and justice of the context of teaching. I present a methodology for representing research based on a double dialectic of personal learning and political action. My thesis is that networking is important in educational research. Improved understandings of how individuals sustain their commitment to these notoriously ill defined groupings will contribute to improvements in the quality of educational research.
Photographs have been used to provide complex information in the form of images which accompany descriptions of 'critical incidents' which explain networking in collaborative action research from an individual perspective. An explanation of a time in the life of an individual, a teacher, excavating the question: ' Why have I sustained my commitment to my values about teacher research given the progressive demoralisation of teaching in Britain since 1986?'.
Here is my response which Terry has integrated within his own account:
One of the reasons I think you have found it difficult to find appropriate ways of expressing and representing your meanings in your educational research is that private photographs have been too painful to express to others. It seems to me that you have liberated yourself from the constraints you were feeling....... You identify with the history of the working classes in the sense that embodied in your present life in education, are your powerful emotional commitments to those whose own lives have been part of the education of the working classes. The playground (in one photograph) which denies the loving family - you have explained that the punctum in this picture is the image of a mother holding up her baby so that the father can see it from the prison cell overlooking the playground. They are arguing and shouting at one another ... I believe this picture will enable you to explain your own commitment to the role of education in liberating the working classes from being imprisoned by their own history and present social context.
Terry transferred his registration for his Ph.D. programme from Bath University to Kingston so that he could work more closely with Pam Lomax. Terry continues to provide support for the community of educational action researchers at Bath. The reason I keep urging Terry to submit his Ph.D. Thesis is because I believe that it will make a distinctive and original contribution to our understanding of the new, living standards of educational judgement which can be used to test the validity of the living educational theories of educational action researchers. In particular I think Terry will help to move forward our understanding of how to integrate the Alternative (Re) presentations of Data: issues of the Moral, the Ethical and the Aesthetic (Donmoyer, 1997) within evidence to substantiate claims to educational knowledge which will help to transform the professional knowledge-bases of teaching and education. I also believe that the legitimation of Terry's research programme will contribution to our understanding of the politics of educational knowledge as we seek to integrate such knowledge-claims within the Academy.
2) The Centre for Action Research in Professional Practice (CARPP), University of Bath, Director Dr. Peter Reason.
Since the Centre opened in 1993 I have worked with Judi Marshall and Peter Reason on the Diploma, M.Phil. and Ph.D. action research programmes. The details of the Centres activities and programmes can be viewed on:
Here is what we say about CARPP in the introduction on our Homepage:
Action research has a long history, going back to social scientists' attempts to help solve practical problems in wartime situations in both Europe and America. Over the past ten years there has been a resurgence of interest in this approach, with
many developments in both theory and practice. The newer approaches to action research place emphasis on a full integration of action and reflection so that the knowledge developed in the inquiry process is directly relevant to the issues being studied. They aim to help the individual practitioner develop skills of reflective practice. And they emphasise full collaboration between all those involved in the inquiry project. These newer forms include "co-operative inquiry", "participatory action research", and "action science" or "action inquiry".
Academic staff at the University of Bath have developed international reputations in this field. They have used these methods to explore, amongst other things, issues of effectiveness within business organizations; the development of reflective teaching practice in secondary schools; issues of gender in organizations; experiences of women managers; organizational cultures; collaboration between general and complementary medical practitioners. They are actively involved in collaborative research projects and have published widely on issues of epistemology and methodology.
The Centre has also developed an approach to adult education based on a process of disciplined inquiry. This educational process is based on whole-person learning, seeking an integration of intellectual, personal and practical knowledge in the pursuit of worthwhile purposes. It includes debates, experiential activities, and inquiry projects as well as lectures, seminars, reading and presentations. Students work together with staff members in small supervision groups to develop their inquiry practice.
CARPP students are engaged in a range of action research projects which include explorations of : issues of race in British organizations; gender and management practice from both female and male perspectives; medical practice by nurses, doctors and clinical psychologists; teaching practice and the development of communities of inquiry as a form of educational practice; conflict resolution, community building and complementary medicine.
Next week, the focus of the programme below for the CARPP 4 group, two day workshop is on Accounting for Ourselves - the theme of the World Congress 3 on Action Learning, Action Research and Process Management (Laidlaw, Lomax & Whitehead, 1993) organised by the Action Research in Educational Theory and KHARG groups at Bath. In my contribution to the workshop I will be drawing attention to the variety of forms of representation used in the research described in Part One and focusing attention on the importance of expressing, defining and communicating the new living standards of judgement, described above, for justifying claims to know.
Workshop 6: September 18 & 19, 1997.
Theme: Accounting for Ourselves
This workshop will look at questions of how our research can be
presented to our colleagues and to ourselves, with every encouragement to break away from traditional "academic" forms and discover presentational forms appropriate for our topics and concerns. We will offer a range of ways of thinking about representation, and experiential exercises concerning embodiment and writing.
9.45 Gathering and Coffee (meeting in Strollers)
10.00 Re-establishing contact
11.00 Introduction to issues of representation - All Staff
11.30 Sculpting: Embodying our research - Judi
1.30 Freefall writing (if you primarily write on a computer and have
a Peter laptop/notebook you might like to bring it with you)
4.00 Representation issues in action research: justifying claims to
know - Jack
6.00 Open Space
9.00 Course Review and Business
10.00 Supervision groups
Before I move on, I would like to pay a tribute to David Weeks, the Head of Sociology at London-Guildford University, and a student in the Centre, who died without warning some weeks after his successful transfer, in March 1997, from the Diploma to the M.Phil. phase of the programme. David began the programme, as he says below, feeling that action research was suspect as a form of research. In the concluding section of his transfer paper, David has found satisfaction in his use of a dialogical form of action research presentation for researching and answering his own questions.
Here is David's prologue to his transfer report from the last words of the Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama:
You should know that all things in the world are
impermanent; coming together inevitably means
Do not be troubled, for this is the nature of life.
Diligently practising right effort, you must seek
Within the light of wisdom, destroy the darkness of
ignorance. Nothing is secure. Everything in this life is
Always wholeheartedly seek the way of liberation. All
things in the world, whether moving or non-moving, are
characterized by disappearance and instability.
And here is his concluding section 'What Next?' in which he expresses the intentions for his research programme. I hope David's intentions captivate your imagination as they did mine and that you feel directly addressed through the intimacy of his questions and answers.
Looking back over the last year or so on the CARPP programme how do you view it and what prospects do you perceive for the future of your action research?
Most strikingly I have developed a different perspective on the nature and potential of action research. I have moved from seeing the approach as potentially useful for action, but rather suspect in terms of research, to a position where combining research with action holds the great promise for acquiring understanding and helping to bring about beneficial change. Action research can incorporate a wide range of investigatory techniques but most attract of all, it promotes the opportunity to develop new methods appropriate to the situation.
It has also provided a challenge to, but ultimately an endorsement, of my support for Buddhist principles. The pragmatic principles of action research appear complementary with the tenets of discovery and validation in Buddhism.
So what do you intend to do with this potential synergy?
That's a very large question but I would like to explore the ways in which the three main aspects of Buddhist practice: morality, mediation and the pursuit of wisdom can provide the methodology for developing action research with a spiritual dimension. In more detailed terms this would involve the Noble Eightfold Path as a guide to professional practice in my teaching and managerial activities.
But what are the specific opportunities for following this approach?
Initially I plan to work with a group of care professionals in exploring the possibilities for individual and organisational change as part of a taught M.Sc. course. The intention is to use action learning/research as a means of developing awareness and skills in a collaborative way that encourages students to extend this approach into their own professional practice.
But how does the Buddhist dimension fit with this?
This would involve a systematic attempt to follow Buddhist principles in my professional practice as a guide to achieving greater reflexivity and potentially spiritual insights.
And what do you see as the main problems?
Firstly, finding a language to combine Buddhist and action research ideas. Secondly, finding a field of inquiry that can sustain and develop these ideas. Thirdly, achieving sufficient non-attachment to let the now of my research be available and helpful to others.
For JeKan Adler-Collins and his Educational Action Research Programme in Complementary Medicine
While JeKan Adler-Collins is a student on the taught Masters programme in the Department of Education we are exploring the possibility of registering him for a research degree in CARPP. JeKan is a priest of the Japanese Shingon Mikkyo Buddhist Order with the given name JeKan:
"I was given my name by my follow priests and it stems from Ji bo Kannon, an archetypal nurturing healing Mother. This energy represents unconditional loving and the ability to lovingly heal all without judgement or conditions, through the transition of your understanding of your own issues. Your I truly transcends to the collective We of Community. The teachings of Mikkyo are over 2000 years old. It is the study of esoteric Buddhism through Gyo (Discipline) understanding and love."
JeKan's 1997, M.A. Module assignment,Can a collaborative action research approach to my educational enquiry help to express, define and validate my standards of professional practice?, is on the Web at address:
He left for Japan yesterday for the final Gyo before becoming a Head Priest. The BBC are to make a programme of his spiritual experiences in a 100 day fast.
I also want to mention the research of Mark Kane and Robyn Pound. Mark is an osteopath researching the development of wholistic approaches to complementary medicine. Robyn is registered at the University of the West of England for an M.Phil. programme and is researching her own practice as a Health visitor. She is a regular participant in the action research group at Bath.
3) Tom Russell, Jackie Delong and the developing relationships in Ontario
Chance has played an important part in the development of personal relationships relating the development of my research programme to those of others. Tom Russell has been the most influential individual in encouraging and enabling my participation in the annual conferences of the American Educational Research Association and in sharing ideas from my research programme with teachers in Ontario. He introduced me to Jackie Delong, Superintendent of Schools in Brant County, Ontario. Jackie is now registered at the University of Bath for her M.Phil./Ph.D. action research programme into her educational leadership as a Superintendent of Schools with system responsibilities.
In 1992, Tom introduced me to the Invisible College meetings immediately preceding the AERA Annual Conference and we are both founder members of the AERA special interest group on the Self-Study of Teacher Education Practices. Tom's publications have been a constant source of encouragement through his acknowledgement of ideas from my research and his inclusion of contributions from me in several of his publications (Pinnegar and Russell, 1995; Russell, and Korthagen 1995; Featherstone, Munby & Russell, 1997). He also introduced me to Linda Grant and Jack MacFadden and I have much to thank him for.
Linda Grant, the Manager of Standards of Practice and Education at the Ontario College of Teachers, visited Kevin Eames at Wootton Bassett School and the action research in educational theory group at Bath, in 1992, when she was a Professional Development Officer for the Ontario Public School Teachers Federation (OPSTF). The way in which Linda Grant and OPSTF has supported its teacher researcher movement can be seen in the publication, Act Reflect Revise (Hossack & Halsall 1995). Margaret Couture the officer at OPSTF responsible for its professional development programme is continuing to support action research approaches to professional development and the latest publication "Action Research: School Improvement Through Research-Based Professionalism" (Delong & Wideman eds. 1997) with my own own contribution on "Enhancing Teacher Professionalism through Action Research", is in press.
Jack MacFadden, the first teacher-researcher President of the Ontario Educational Research Council is also an influential advocate of action research, with his colleague, Clay Lafleur at the Ministry of Education,
I intend to make a contribution at the Ontario Educational Research Council in December 1997. Working with Tom Russell, Jack MacFadden and Jackie Delong, I intend to promote the living educational theory approaches to the professional development of teachers and school improvement at this conference, with a focus on the living standards of practice and education I have discussed above. These ideas have been integrated within the following proposal for AERA in April 1998. This was submitted in July 1997.
4) Developing relationships in the American Educational Research Association
A symposium proposal for the AERA programme of Division K,
Section 5, San Diego, 1998.
Developing Standards of Professional Practice in Teacher Education in Communities of Professional Educators
Chair/ Discussant: Sue Hansen-Smith, Dept. of Interdisciplinary Studies, National-Louis University1000 Capitol Drive, Wheeling, IL 60090-9066, U.S. A.
Presenters: Jackie Delong, Superintendent of Schools, Brant County, Ontario, Canada
Linda Grant, Manager of Standards of Practice and Education, College of Teachers, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Tom Russell, Faculty of Education, Queens University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada
Jack Whitehead, Department of Education, University of Bath, U.K.
Discussant: Pamela Lomax, Kingston University, U.K.
This symposium is grounded in enquiries into the standards of practice of professional educators and their influence in constructing just, moral, and civic communities that foster the common good. The presenters have all accepted the challenge of AERA 98 to educate citizens who can both exercise their differences and contribute to the construction of communities of professional educators that foster the common good. We offer our symposium as part of the creation of discourse communities in which researchers with different perspectives, cultural contexts, auto-biographical journeys, and epistemological positions are working together to create public communities of professional educators that foster the common destinies of nation-states and the human community. Each of the presenters is engaged in researching standards of practice in teacher education in communities of professional educators.
Purpose: To explore the development of standards of professional practice in teacher education in communities of professional educators.
Background: Educational Researchers around the world are focussing attention on defining the standards of professional practice in teacher education. One area of enquiry is in finding appropriate forms of representing (Eisner 1993) these standards of practice in accounts of teacher development (Pinnegar and Russell, 1995). Educational researchers are also concerned with the crisis of methodology and legitimation in such enquiries (Denzin & Lincoln 1994) and in developing appropriate methodologies and epistemologies for inquiries of the kind, 'How do I improve my professional practice', or 'How do I help you to improve your learning?' (Whitehead, 1997; Lomax 1997). All the contributors to the Symposium have researched their own professional practice in a variety of policy, research and practice communities. They will be offering their own resolution to the above problems. This will include their participation in discourse communities which include the Ontario College of Teachers, initial teacher education programmes, educational administration and continuing teacher education, and the sharing of accounts of professional lives and practice through the medium of the World Wide Web.
Data Sources: The data includes:
i) policy documents on standards of practice from Ontario's College of Teachers and the U.K.'s Teacher Training Agency;
ii) Accounts of the practice of teaching accredited for initial teacher qualifications and for M.Ed. M.A. M.Phil & Ph.D. degrees on the World Wide Web at: http://educ.queensu.ca/projects/action_research/queensar.htm
iii) Transcripts of validation meetings in which participants have subjected their claims to know their standards of professional practice to the critical scrutiny of peers.
Significance: The symposium aims to contribute to debates about the epistemology of the professional knowledge-base of teaching and teacher education. Recent educational literature (for example Hoyle and John, 1995) categorises the epistemologies of the professional knowledge-base of teaching and teacher education into positivist, interpretive and critical traditions. The validity of this classification for our professional knowledge-base is questioned. Evidence will be presented in relation to the values of professional educators ( Eames, 1995; Laidlaw, 1996; Holley 1997, Delong & Wideman, 1996; Grant, 1996), to show that it is too limited to provide an adequate analysis of the standards of professional practice which can express, define and justify the values in education which constitute the common good in our different discourse communities.
It will be argued that the epistemological significance of these values is that they are the standards of practice which teachers' use in helping their pupils and students to improve the quality of their learning (Lomax 1997, Laidlaw 1996). It will also be argued that the primary significance of these standards of practice is that they establish the existence of distinctively 'educational' epistemologies of professional practice. At the centre of these epistemologies are the values which give each participants' professional life their meaning and purpose. Each participant will be showing how they hold together the differences between their own unique path of their professional practice and interest, together with their sharing of fundamental educational values which they believe are helping to constitute the common good across their different cultural contexts. It is these values which they claim constitute their learning and practice as 'educational'.
Jackie Delong, Superintendent of Schools, Brant County, Ontario, Canada will explicate the standards of practice she uses to characterise her professional learning as a Superintendent of Schools as she fulfils her system responsibilities to a 'Family' of 16 schools in Brant County. Her mode of inquiry has involved the use of 'validation' groups of peers to test the adequacy of the interpretations of her 'system's influence' as a Superintendent, and the use of Winter's six criteria of rigour as she explicates the standards of professional practice in the work of a Superintendent.
Dr. Linda Grant, Manager of Standards of Practice and Education, College of Teachers, Toronto, Ontario, Canada will describe and analyse the policies of the Ontario College of Teachers and relate these to her management of the standards of practice and education. As part of this analysis Grant will explore how, in the College, action research might be valued as a form of professional learning - and what standards of practice might be developed to provide the basis for criteria to value members of the College who engage in action research work.
Prof. Tom Russell, Faculty of Education, Queens University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada will analyse his standards of practice as a teacher educator in relation to initial teacher education programmes at Queens University. Russell adopts a dialogical form of presentation in his narratives of teaching practice and subjects his interpretations to the tests of triangulation. His data includes e-mail correspondences between novice teachers and between the novices and their tutors together with the narratives of the novice teachers of their own professional l learning.
Jack Whitehead, Department of Education, University of Bath, U.K. will analyse his standards of practice as a teacher educator in relation to the continuing professional development programmes of teachers who have been awarded advanced qualifications (including M.A., M.Phil. & Ph.D. degrees) for the study of their attempts to help their teachers to improve the quality of their learning. The mode of inquiry in this analysis is dialogical (Bakhtin 1991) and Whitehead will analyse the standards of practice explicated in these Theses in terms of their research design, methods, rigour and use of evidence in relation to the practitioners' claims to know their own professional learning in the processes of improving the quality of pupils learning.
Prof.Sue Hansen-Smith will discuss the presentations in relation to the extensive teacher-researcher programmes at National-Louis University, U.S.A.
Prof. Pam Lomax, President Elect of the British Educational Research Association, will discuss the presentations in relation to her pioneering work on the standards of practice in school-university partnerships in the U.K.
WHAT HAS THIS GOT TO DO WITH THE CREATION OF A GENERAL TEACHING COUNCIL AND A COLLEGE OF TEACHER EDUCATORS?
It is at this point that I want to turn towards Advocacy of the kind discussed Berliner (1997) which engages directly with the political processes in the wider society. Having agreed with Lauren Resnick (1997) about the need to retain our national educational research associations as Forums in which we can test the validity of our
claims to knowledge I want to ensure that this knowledge is embodied within the present institutional proposals to enhance professionalism in teaching and education. I can trace my own commitment to enhance professionalism to the study I produced as a postgraduate education student, 'The Way to Professionalism in Education? (Whitehead 1967). Some thirty years after I produced this study I voted for the Labour Party whose Government is now pledged to create a General Teaching Council by the year 2000. The question is what form of Council will best serve the teaching profession.
Professor John Tomlinson (1997) and John Sayer have done much to help to create the present GTC (England & Wales). This is an alliance of some 35 organisations representing teachers, employers, parents, governors and the churches who have been working over the past seven years for the establishment of a statutory General Teaching Council.
Here is the Statement issued by the Directors of the GTC (England and Wales) in March 1994 to which I subscribe:
THE GENERAL TEACHING COUNCIL FOR ENGLAND AND WALES
Having regard to the essential service of teachers to the health and prosperity of society, and wishing to create a body which will be both a guarantor of the professional quality of service offered by teachers and a protector of the public interest, especially that of parents, pupils and learners for all ages, it is proposed that there should be formed a General Teaching Council for England and Wales (GTC).
The prime objective of the GTC shall be the regulation of the teaching profession so as to maintain and improve the quality of education, in the interests of children, their parents, and students.
To this end the GTC will have a duty:
* to main a register of those entitled to teach in schools and colleges or to prepare future teachers;
* to advise on and take account of the standards required fro the initial and continuing education and training of teachers, and the competencies expected of them;
*to establish and uphold the ethical principles governing the teaching profession and rules of conduct and guidances of good practice derived from them;
* to take measures to ensure that these are observed by all teachers as a condition of being registered, and to have powers to withdraw, review and reinstate names from the register;
*to advise on the supply, recruitment and retention of teachers;
*to consider other matters related to teachers referred to it by the Secretary of State;
*to publish an annual report.
The Council will have powers:
*to raise a periodic registration fee from teachers to fund its work;
*to receive other grants an donations;
*to commission, promote or undertake enquiries and research in pursuance of its objects;
*to publish documents and statements in relation to its work;
* to make recommendations to the Secretary of State, to the public and to teachers on any matter related to that work.
The Council will be so constituted as to enable the teaching profession to take responsibility for acting both in the public interest, informed by insight into all aspects of the profession and teaching, and in the interests of the professional development of teachers throughout the education service.
To this end the Council will have a majority of registered teachers with experience across the education service, complemented by a significant proportion of lay members representing the public interest.
The Teacher Training Agency is already constructing a new national framework for teacher education with a focus on competence and accountability but without a form of accountability in which teachers create their own professional knowledge-base. Proposals for a national curriculum for initial teacher education have been made together with the implementation of career entry profiles for new entrants to the profession. The organisation for the National Professional Qualification for Headteachers is in place. Consultations have been held for the National Professional Qualification for Subject Leaders. Plans are being made for the National Professional Qualification for Expert Teachers. As well as these professional qualifications, the Government is developing its plans for an Advanced Skills Teacher Grade.
In addition to these professional qualifications developed by the TTA there are numerous diploma, M.A., M.Ed., M.Phil. & Ph.D. programmes accredited by universities and colleges which teachers study as part of their professional development. To say the least there appears to be a lack of national coherence in the present programmes of continuing professional development! This point was focused on in the Dearing Report (1997) on Higher Education with its recommendation that a new national framework for teacher education should be created which will integrate the qualifications offered by the TTA and the Universities.
While supporting the above proposals for the creation of a General Teaching Council I do believe that a crucial component of professionalism, related to the professional knowledge-base of education and teaching is missing. You may think me mistaken but I do believe that one of the sources of professional pride in all the practitioner researchers above is related to the feeling of confidence which comes from having legitimated their claims to know their own professional learning and practice within institutions, in this case the universities, which they respect as bodies with the ability and reputations for legitimating high status knowledge.
Consider the recognition which could be given to all those above with their higher degrees in education. They are all practitioner researchers who have answered and researched questions of the kind, 'how do I improve my practice'. Their work has been recognised by a university but they have no professional body which they can turn to for professional recognition within a national framework of continuing professional development in teaching and education. Perhaps the closes body I have in mind is The Education Council membership rests upon the submission of a validated claim of professional values and knowledge (Eames, 1996). It may be that this procedure could be extended in a way which creates the following distinctions between a teacher, a teacher educator and a professional educator. I wonder if the following distinctions attract you.
Within the present proposals for establishing a GTC it is difficult to see how this kind of value could be given to the creation of the professional knowledge-base of teaching and education. Would the creation of a College of Teacher Educators or a College of Professional Educators, either within the General Teaching Council or as a complementary body help to enhance the professional status of teaching? It seems to me that it would. The framework of national professional qualifications proposed by the TTA could help to increase professional status because it links pay, through promotion with these qualifications. What is omitted from this system of qualifications is the kind of professional pride, satisfaction and status which comes from being acknowledged as an individual who has made a significant or original contribution to the professional knowledge-base. I am suggesting that the present membership procedures used by the Education Council could be extended into the creation of a College of Teacher Educators which would have three forms of professional recognition:
i) A new entrant, after successful completion of probation would be recognised by the college as a teacher.
ii) The next phase would involve recognition as a teacher educator with subject leader or expert teacher or headteacher qualifications plus a qualification at Masters level.
iii) The third phase would involve recognition as a professional educator with subject leader or expert teacher or headteacher qualifications plus a qualification at Doctoral level.
It would not be difficult to integrate the opportunity to make significant or original contributions to the professional knowledge-base of teaching and education within the present framework of national professional qualifications being developed by the TTA.
It seems to me that by creating a College of Teacher/Educators with the statutory powers to recognise Teachers, Teacher Educators and Professional Educators we could do much to enhance the status of our profession and its professional knowledge-base.
Because I recognise just how important our personal and professional relationships are in sustaining an educational research programme which will have a significant influence I want to affirm the importance of the following individuals in my own research programme and for the pleasure of their company.
I want to say how much I enjoyed the time Andre Dolbec, Professor of Education at the University of Quebec. Canada spent with the group during 1996 during his Sabbatical Year. If you access my homepage and download JeKan Adler-Collins' enquiry, Can a collaborative action research approach to my educational enquiry help to express, define and validate my standards of professional practice?, you will see Andre's influence on both the collaborative action research methodology and the quality of the data.
I also enjoyed the company of Peter Taylor, of Curtin University, Australia, during the time he spent with the group in 1995. Do look at Peter's homepage and connect with his colleague David Geelan of Curtin University as they engage in their self-studies of their work as university teachers. There is a link already established between my homepage and Peter's homepage.
Tony Ghaye (1996), Reader in Educational Research at Worcester College of Higher Education is taking his ideas on action-research into publications for Health Care Professionals and I have felt much support through the way my ideas were integrated in the material for health care professionals (Ghaye, Cuthbert, Kanai, & Dennis, 1996)
Jean McNiff continues to be a stimulating friend with unflagging enthusiasm for our joint project in reconstructing educational theory and knowledge. Her influence has also been felt in the use of her publications by many teachers and teacher educators who needed this support in both the initial and continuing phases of their enquiries. Her trips to Bath are a tonic and she invariably leaves me refreshed and full of hope for the future.
I should also like to thank my colleagues Sarah Fletcher, Steve Wharton, Jen Russ who provide a constant source of personal delight in their company and inspiration in their commitment and enthusiasm for their students and education.
Congratulations to Steve on the award, by the University, of the 1997 Mary Tasker Award for Teaching,
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This document was added to the Education-line database 15 October 1997