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Generating Educational Theories That Can Explain Educational Influences In Learning: living logics, units of appraisal, standards of judgment

 Jack Whitehead

University of Bath, UK.

 A presentation in the Symposium on Generating Educational Theories That Can Explain Educational Influences In Learning, at the
British Educational Research Association Annual Conference, Institute of Education, University of London, 5-8 September 2007


  This presentation is an answer to the call made in 1995 by Donald Schon to develop a new epistemology for the new scholarship of educational knowledge. The answer given here depends on a values-laden and inclusional understanding of what counts as 'educational'. It assumes that you, I and others can create educational theories that explain our educational influences in our own learning, in the learning of others and in the learning of the social formations in which we live and work. An evidence-based analysis demonstrates how living educational theories are contributing to the production of a world of educational quality. They do this by bringing more fully into the world the expression of a loving, life-affirming energy, of justice, of compassion, of freedom, of gift, of talent and of knowledge creation. The analysis includes an original synthesis of ideas about living logics, units of appraisal and standards of judgement in explanations of educational influences in learning. It also includes responses to power relations that sustain and transform sociohistorial and sociocultural influences in the reproduction and transformation of individual and social formations.


Educational explanations from practitioner-researchers from the UK, China, Japan, the USA, Canada, South Africa and Ireland, are related through collages of video-clips of educational relationships in a visual narrative of educational influences in learning. The video-collage is used to show that the educational influences from one context, such as China, can flow into educational relationships in different international contexts as relationally dynamic and responsive educational communications and standards of judgment with a viewer, through the boundaries of the video-clips.


The new epistemology for educational knowledge is distinguished by the relationally dynamic and responsive nature of the living standards of judgment, together with the living logics and unit of appraisal of the individual's explanation for their educational influences in learning.


Introductory framing


In this introductory framing I explain why I have focused so much time and energy over the last 40 years on the creation of valid educational theories that can explain educational influences in learning. I explain the significance of making clear distinctions between education and educational research (Whitehead, 2007) and between the generation of theories of education and educational theories. I explain the epistemological significance of focusing on the living logics, units of appraisal and standards of judgement in explanations of educational influence.


To emphasise the importance of visual narratives in the expression and communication of living standards of judgment I am presenting this short video-clip of Nelson Mandela talking about Ubuntu. I include it here to bring the visual communication of the life-affirming energy in the expression of embodied values into this introduction. Ubuntu ways of being, enquiring and knowing are relationally dynamic and flow with life-affirming energy. This relational dynamic is stressed by Mandela in the clip. I believe that you already have some historical understanding of Mandela's life and response to 27 years in prison under the Apartheid regime.  Narratives of Mandela's life are now part of a global culture that represents for me and many others some of the highest achievements of the life of an individual. On the 29th August 2007 my own birthday celebrations were enhanced by watching and listening to Nelsen Mandela as he responded to the unveiling of his statue in Westminster's Parliament Square. As you watch the video of Mandela talking about Ubuntu I believe it will evoke resonances between the life-affirming energy and the values I am seeking to communicate in this presentation and your own.


 However, in this presentation I want to go further that evoking a feeling of communication in relation to values. I want to focus on the generation of educational theories by individuals and the contributions of such explanations to the generation of a new epistemology for educational knowledge.


I have focused much of my professional life in education on the generation of educational theories that can explain educational influences in learning in terms of extensions in cognitive range and concern and in expressions of recognition of the value of the other and of oneself. The reason for this is that I believe it important in living a loving and productive life in education to explain to oneself and others why one is doing what one is doing, in an account that includes the values and understandings that give meaning and purpose to life and that explains one's educational influence in one's own learning in the learning of others and in the learning of the social formations in which we live and work. I am thinking of these influences in relation to the expression and evolution of one's values and understandings. This assumption is at the heart of my professional life in education. The assumption is grounded in experiences with others that I find most worthwhile. I feel privileged when individuals share their stories in a way that communicates the values and understandings they use to give meaning and purpose to their own lives. I find that I am inspired by stories that explain the individual's educational influences in their own learning as they work at enhancing their own contributions to making the world a better place to be.


I may be mistaken in thinking that the creation and sharing by individuals of their living educational theories is a vital contribution to making the world a better place to be. If you think that I am mistaken I would appreciate hearing and learning from your reasons for this as quickly as possible so that I can refocus my activities, values and understandings in a more meaningful way before I pass on!  If however you believe that the new epistemology for educational knowledge is valid I do hope that you will help me to spread its influence. If, like me, you believe that valid educational theories have a profound influence for the future of humanity, perhaps we could work together to spread the influence of a valid epistemology for educational knowledge. The meanings of the inclusional values, in the accounts of the practitioner-researchers below, have emerged from responses to the experiences of their denial, in similar experiences to my own in the evolution of my vocation in education. A fuller explanation of why I have chosen to focus on educational theory in my vocation in education is in Appendix One.


In this presentation I am making a clear distinction between education researchers and educational researchers. I hope my reasons for making a distinction are clear from my rejection of the disciplines approach to educational theory (Appendix One). In my experience adherents to a discipline of education, tend to colonise educational theory by identifying their theory of education with educational theory. The importance of making a distinction between education and educational research has recently been made by Geoff Whitty in his 2005 Presidential Address to the British Educational Research Association:


One way of handling the distinction might be to use the terms 'education research' and 'educational research' more carefully. In this paper, I have so far used the broad term education research to characterise the whole field, but it may be that within that field we should reserve the term educational research for work that is consciously geared towards improving policy and practice..... One problem with this distinction between 'education research' as the broad term and 'educational research' as the narrower field of work specifically geared to the improvement of policy and practice is that it would mean that BERA, as the British Educational Research Association would have to change its name or be seen as only involved with the latter. So trying to make the distinction clearer would also involve BERA in a re-branding exercise which may not necessarily be the best way of spending our time and resources. But it is at least worth considering. (Whitty, 2005)


My own response to the distinction is to advocate keeping the name of the British Educational Research Association and to reserve educational research for research that is consciously geared towards generating explanations with the intention of improving educational practice. I do not agree that education research can contain educational research in the sense of explanations of individuals for their educational influences in their own learning in the learning of others and in the learning of social formations. However, I want to stress that educational research can draw insights from education research in the creation of living educational theories.


In my experience, education researchers who seek to include educational research within their conceptual frameworks, risk the colonising influences of the old disciplines approach (Appendix One).  I see this distinction as vital in the generation of valid educational theories that can explain the educational influences of individuals in their own learning, in the learning of others and in the learning of social formations. To emphasise the importance of the distinction I am making, beween learning and educational influences in learning, I use Biesta's (2006) response to the question 'What is learning?' in which he distinguishes learning as acquisition from learning as response:


"Both ways of looking at learning- learning as acquisition and learning as responding – might be equally valid, depending, that is, on the situation in which we raise questions about the definition of learning. But as I will argue in more details in subsequent chapters, the second conception of learning is educationally the more significant, if it is conceded that education is not just about the transmission of knowledge, skills and values, but is concerned with the individuality, subjectivity, or personhood of the student, with their "coming into the world" as unique, singular beings."(p. 27).


I am distinguishing what is educational in terms of both the processes of cultural transmission of knowledge, skills and values and the coming into the world of unique singular beings. Hence in judging the validity of living educational theories I look for the evidence that the individual shows and explains how they are coming into the world as unique singular beings in responding to the cultural processes of the transmission of knowledge, skills and values. I also look for the evidence that in these responses they are transforming their existing knowledge, skills and values through the expression of their life-affirming energy and with the values and understandings they use to give meaning and purpose to their lives. I believe that this focus on transformation is consistent with James' (2007) idea of transformational validity.


I now want to focus on the originality in this presentation in terms of the meanings of the living logics, units of appraisal and standards of judgment that can characterise a new epistemology for educational knowledge. The development of these logics, units and standards evolved from two transformations in my epistemological understandings. These transformations are described below in terms of extensions of the logics in my explanations of educational influence from propositional, into dialectical and then into inclusional modes of thought. In the presentation of these extensions and transformations I use Rayner's (2005) understanding of inclusionality. This is a relationally dynamic awareness of space and boundaries as connective, reflexive and co-creative. The significance of a relationally dynamic awareness in generating a living logic, unit of appraisal and standards of judgement will be considered in some detail later as I consider the philosophical transformations in the genesis of my living educational theories.


Philosophical transformations in the generation of my living educational theories.


In focusing on the meanings of educational influences in learning in the generation of living educational theories I find the following idea useful in emphasising the vital significance of 'influence':


"As a poet indebted to and friendly with Mallarme, Valery was compelled to assess originality and derivation in a way that said something about a relationship between two poets that  could not be reduced to a simple formula. As the actual circumstances were rich, so too had to be the attitude.  Here is an example from the "Letter About Mallarme".


No word comes easier of oftener to the critic's pen than the word influence, and no vaguer notion can be found among all the vague notions that compose the phantom armory of aesthetics.  Yet there is nothing in the critical field that should be of greater philosophical interest or prove more rewarding to analysis than the progressive modification of one mind by the work of another." (Said, 1997, p. 15)


In his work on Culture and Imperialism Said makes the point:


As I use the word, 'culture' means two things in particular. First of all it means all those practices, like the arts of description, communication, and representation, that have relative autonomy from the economic, social, and political realms and that often exist in aesthetic forms, one of whose principal aims is pleasure. Included, of course, are both the popular stock of lore about distant parts of the world and specialized knowledge available in such learned disciplines as ethnography, historiography, philology, sociology, and literary history.....


Second, and almost imperceptible, culture is a concept that includes a refining and elevating element, each society's reservoir of the best that has been known and thought. As Matthew Arnold put it in the 1860s.... In time, culture comes to be associated, often aggressively, with the nation of the state; this differentiates 'us' from 'them', almost always with some degree of xenophobia. Culture in this sense is a source of identity, and a rather combative one at that, as we see in recent 'returns' to culture and tradition. (Said, pp. xii-xiv, 1993)


Said (1993) has analysed the way narratives (novels) can exercise a cultural influence in sustaining colonial power relations. His analysis heightened my awareness of the significance of ensuring that the narratives constituting living educational theories serve an emancipatory interest while acknowledging the persistence of colonising influence in cultural formations and social practices. The doctoral research programme of Eden Charles (2007), with his understandings of the emancipatory possibilities of Ubuntu ways of being, enquiring and knowing, is also helping me to exploring the postcolonial implications of including a focus on societal re-identification in the education of social formations. The importance of educating social formations through the spread of the societal re-identification offered by Charles is related to the recognition of the importance of sustainability. It is possible for individuals to enhance the flow of life-affirming energy with values and understandings in a particular context, such as a classroom or other workplace context. However, unless the economic, political, cultural and other social conditions are supportive of the activities of the individuals, the improvements in one context are unlikely to have a systemic influence in other contexts. This is why Delong's (2002) research programme is so important as she engages with the systemic processes that can create and sustain a culture of enquiry that can support practitioner-researchers in enhancing their practice in their particular contexts. In the opening to the Abstract to her thesis Delong stresses the importance of philosophy in saying that,  One of the basic tenets of my philosophy is that the development of a culture for improving learning rests upon supporting the knowledge-creating capacity in each individual in the system. Thus, I start with my own. This thesis sets out a claim to know my own learning in my educational inquiry, 'How can I improve my practice as a superintendent of schools?'


In the evolution of my inclusional explanations of educational influence in learning between 1967-2007 I can distinguish three philosophical transformations that are focused on my logics and standards of judgment. Through my first degree in physical science I came to the belief that I should eliminate 'I' from my 'scientific' accounts on the grounds that scientific knowledge was objective and required the elimination of the subjectivity of the 'I'. During my studies of the philosophy of education between 1968-70, I shared the views of my tutors that matters of fact and matters of value formed independent realms of discourse and that contradictions between statements should be eliminated from correct thought. During this time my epistemology can be characterised as 'positivist'.


In 1971 as I used a video to analyse my teaching, I experienced myself as a living contradiction in the sense that I could see that I was not doing what I believed I was doing. I thought that I had established enquiry learning in my classrooms, where the pupils were forming their own questions and that I was making a serious response to their questions. The video showed that I was actually forming the questions for them and that the way I had structured the learning resources was too rigid to be responsive to any questions that the pupils might ask, other than the ones I had pre-defined. Through the experience of myself as a living contradiction and the help of Polanyi's (1958) insights into personal knowledge my understandings evolved. By this I mean that I followed Polanyi's decision to understand the world from my point of view, as a person claiming originality and exercising his personal judgement responsibly with universal intent. (p.327).


This experience of being a living contradiction moved me into a study of dialectics with contradictions as the nucleus (Ilyenkov, 1977). My epistemology became that of a dialectician. I did not reject the insights I gained from the study of propositional theories with their formal logic, but I was aware of the arguments between formal and dialectical logics in which each rejected the rationality of the other's assumptions (Marcuse, 1964, Popper, 1963).


In 2002 my understandings evolved from my dialectical understandings and transformed through the recognition of Alan Rayner's meanings of inclusionality. I felt this transformation occurring as Alan used the demonstration, of what has become known as 'The Paper Dance', to explain the importance of a relational dynamic understanding of space and boundaries. The video-clip of  'The Paper Dance' can be accessed below from the image of Alan, or the url. It emphasises the severance from receptively responsive relationships that occurs in propositional and dialectical thinking and that can be 'healed' in the relationally dynamic awareness of space and boundaries of inclusionality. Responses to the video have given an indication of its inspirational quality. Responses have commented on the importance of the non-verbal communications in the expression of the relationally dynamic awareness of space and boundaries.


Of great significance in the development of the new epistemology of educational knowledge is the idea of a living logic. Following Marcuse (1964, p.105) I see logic as a mode of thought that is appropriate for comprehending the real as rational. My understanding of the significance of developing a living logic, as a mode of thought for comprehending educational influences in learning, came from my reflections on a limitation in Ilyenkov's (1977) thinking about dialectical logic. I see this limitation in terms of Ilyenkov's commitment to 'write' logic, rather than explore the implications for the development of a living logic in his own form of life:


The concretisation of the general definition of Logic presented above must obviously consist in disclosing the concepts composing it, above the concept of thought (thinking). Here again a purely dialectical difficulty arises, Namely, that to define this concept fully, i.e. concretely, also means to 'write' Logic, because a full definition cannot by any means be given by a 'definition' but only by 'developing the essence of the matter'. (Ilyenkov, 1977, p.9)


I believe that his decision to 'write' logic, constrained Ilyenkov to work within the limitations imposed by the elimination of contradictions between statements in the Aristotelean Law of Contradiction, even while writing about contradictions. He became stuck with the problem of finding an appropriate from of representation for a living contradiction:


"Contradiction as the concrete unity of mutually exclusive opposites is the real nucleus of dialectics, its central category. On that score there cannot be two views among Marxists; but no small difficulty immediately arises as soon as matters touch on 'subjective dialectics', on dialectics as the logic of thinking. If any object is a living contradiction, what must the thought (statement about the object) be that expresses it?  Can and should an objective contradiction find reflection in thought? And if so, in what form?" (Ilyenkov, 1977, p. 320)


What I am claiming for living educational theories, is that the complex relational dynamics of the individual's responses to their context and reflections, can be comprehended in explanations that are formed through the unique living logics of each individual in their educational enquiries of the kind, 'How do I improve my practice?' The explanations, when formed with the help of visual narratives, are not constrained by limitations in the sole use of pages of text to communicate the meanings of embodied values. In their research programmes in Appendix Two, individuals are speaking for themselves in the presentation of their research programmes. The doctoral programmes are longitudinal studies of at least five years duration. The University of Bath changed its regulations in 2004 for the submission of research to enable the submission of e-media. Hence it is only from this date that the living theory theses and dissertations have included the e-media of visual narratives.


What I now want to do briefly, is to share my understandings of the significance of living inclusional logics and standards of judgment for the generation of living educational theories in educational enquiries of the kind, 'How do I improve what I am doing?' What I mean by the unit of appraisal in a living educational theory is the explanation offered by an individual to explain their educational influences in learning.


Living logics, units of appraisal, standards of judgment in educational theories that can explain educational influences in learning


In the extension and transformation of my epistemologies with living standards of judgment (Laidlaw, 1996) I want to stress the importance of Lyotard's insight about the postmodern condition in which we are formulating the rules (living standards of judgment) of what will have been done:


A postmodern artist or writer is in the position of a philosopher: the text he writes, the work he produces are not in principle governed by pre-established rules, and they cannot be judged according to a determining judgement, by applying familiar categories to the text or to the work. Those rules and categories are what the work of art itself is looking for. The artist and the writer, then, are working without rules in order to formulate the rules of what will have been done. (Lyotard, p. 81, 1986)


I also want to stress the significance, for the presentation below with its recognition of the diversity of the uniqueness of each living theory, of Bateson's question about a higher wisdom being related to women honouring multiple commitments in a new level of productivity and new possibilities for learning:


But what if we were to recognize the capacity for distraction, the divided will, as representing a higher wisdom...? Perhaps Kierkegaard was wrong when he said that 'purity is to will one thing'. Perhaps the issue is not a fixed knowledge of the good, the single focus that millenia of monotheism have made us idealize, but a kind of attention that is open, not focused on a single point. Instead of concentration on a transcendent ideal, sustained attention to diversity and interdependence may offer a different clarity of vision, one that is sensitive to ecological complexity, to the multiple rather than the singular. Perhaps we can discern in women honoring multiple commitments a new level of productivity and new possibilities of learning. (Bateson, p. 166, 1989)


While the video clips below include both genders I shall draw attention to the new possibilities for explaining educational influences in learning that are offered by the multiple living theories flowing through web-space from . In the flow of this BERA 07 presentation ( ) through web-space, there are multiple channels of communication that are open for accessing the living educational theories of most of the researchers (Appendix Two) who appear on the video-clips below. While not wanting you to be overwhelmed by the complexity of these communications, I want you to appreciate the diversity of the interconnecting and branching channels of communication that are open to you to access these living theories and for you to share your own. This clip of Alan Rayner was particularly significant in extending and transforming my inclusional understandings:




Alan Rayner on Inclusionality, Boundaries and Space


 In this clip Alan Rayner is showing his awareness of the non-local influence of forms of thought embedded in the culture as a form of addiction to Aristotelean Logic with it lack of awareness or explicit rejection of dialectical and inclusional forms of thought. He demonstrates, on the video-clip how this addiction sustains a severance between mind/body/emotion. He offers a way of 'healing' this severance through inclusional ways of being, enquiring and knowing. Alan's writings on inclusionality can be accessed from


The ideas of Karen Tesson have also been significant in my recognition of this diversity of the uniqueness in each individual in the evolution of an inclusional approach to the creation, testing and communication of living educational theories. Alan Rayner was a supervisor of Karen's doctoral research. The diagram below changed my awareness of the nature of communications through web-space. The diagram was on a slide shown by Karen Teeson  at a presentation in 2004 of her doctoral research programme at the University of Bath. It showed the natural connection between tubular structures or anastomosis  (|Rayner, 1997). Before seeing this diagram I had been working with a linear sense of communication between a transmitter and receiver. The following diagram transformed my perception of communications through web-space into my present understanding of interconnecting and branching channels of communication where boundaries can act as guidelinings for the flow of life-affirming energy, values and insights. It helps to explain my present passion for enhancing the influence of living educational theories by placing them in the flow of communications through web-space.


I have modified the original diagram to open up channels of communication in the encircling boundary.









Because the understandings I want to share are of inclusional ways of being, enquiring and knowing, I want to begin with visual data that shows embodied expressions of values with space and boundaries that are flowing with an inclusional, loving, life-affirming energy. In the introduction I included a video-clip that seemed likely to have global appeal because it is of Nelson Mandela speaking about an Ubuntu way of being. I included this clip in the beginning because I think that the embodied values expressed by Mandela will resonate with some of the values you recognise as carrying hope for the future of humanity. As I watch the video, I feel Mandela expressing what I understand by a loving, life-affirming energy. I am assuming that enhancing the flow of this energy is a contribution to making the world a better place to be. Bringing the idea of a loving, life-affirming energy as a living standard of judgment into an epistemology of educational knowledge may feel unusual. Yet I want to emphasise the importance of this idea in living educational theories.


In saying that I love what I do in education I am relating this love at work to Eleanor Lohr's (2006) doctoral thesis on Love at Work. In affirming the vital significance of a flow of life-affirming energy as a distinguishing quality of educational relationships I feel this energy as an affirmation of being-itself. I felt this energy and affirmation while reading Tillich's (1973) work on The Courage To Be, while recognising that his meanings, because of his thesism, would differ from my own. I also felt this energy and affirmation in reading Bataille's (1987) work on Eroticism, where he writes of assenting to life to the point of death.


I am not expecting you to access all the clips in this presentation. Viewing one or two may be sufficient to communicate my meanings. I have included them all because they serve to emphasise the significance of developing an inclusional form of awareness that is not structured through the lenses of propositional or dialectical forms of thought. In particular I am thinking of the living logics in the relational dynamic awarenesses of space and boundaries that hold together widely disparate, cultural, geographical and social contexts in the generation by individuals of their explanations of educational influence (Appendix 2). One respondent to an earlier draft of this presentation stayed with the video-clips and my commentaries and made the point:


"...there was initially a little me in me that might well have written the story off part way through because of my own tensions (involuntary preparing for conflict) but by 'staying with it' I came to the point where it was not at all a case of the material redeeming itself, but a case of the material dissolving my small-minded judgements based on involuntary bursts of anticipated conflict by convincing me that there would be no conflict and that I could relax."


My commentaries on the clips also allow me to offer you the opportunity of accessing the living educational theories of most of the individuals on the video-clips. Opening this access, through the interconnecting and branching channels of communication provided by web-space, also opens up possibilities of flows of meaning through boundaries between the clips that are not organised in terms of time. They are atemporal in the sense that while the video-clips were taken at different times and places they can be related through the boundaries between the clips that enable resonant meanings between the expression of values and understandings on the clips to be felt by viewers. You can now test the validity of my claim that the collages of video-clips with their atemporal relationship allows inclusional feelings and communications to be experienced, acknowledged and influence learning. You can test my claims that the visual narrative of the clips with the commentaries and the access to the living theories, clarify my meanings of living logics and living standards of judgment.  For example, an educational relationship in China with Moira Laidlaw has been placed alongside an educational relationship in the UK with Alan Rayner and Eden Charles with the potential to create a relationally dynamic communication, with its living logic, through the boundaries of the video-clips. In clip above, Alan is communicating meanings of a living standard of judgment of inclusionality through a demonstration. In the first clip below, Moira is expressing inclusionality in her educational relationships with her students. I am hoping that your imaginations will reform the relationships between the clips and their communications in ways that can influence your own learning. As I write this I have in mind insights from the doctoral research programme of Jacqueline Scholes-Rhodes in her 'exquisite connectivity'  in learning to 'presence my aesthetic and spiritual being through the emergence form of a creative art of inquiry':


  I hold my changing sense of the world clearly at the centre of my learning, my sense of spiritual and aesthetic belonging expressed as a sense of 'exquisite connectivity'. I develop a notion of 'live' and 'life' meanings as I begin to explore my understanding of its emergent possibilities, holding a fragile sense of a connected world side by side with the generative capacity of my dialogic voice. 

I create an intricate patterning of personal stories and dialogic inquiry process, forming a sense of coherence from the juxtaposition of emotional images with the clarity of a reflective and cognitive dialogue. 

I develop a style of written text that reaches beyond the boundaries of presentational knowing, creating a new understanding of a living expression of an emergent sensibility to a connective world. 

And I allow generative questioning to take my inquiries into new and unanticipated places, holding open the boundaries of a woven truth to qualities of relational sense-making and learning to listen attentively to the richness and creative possibilities of the responses. (Scholes-Rhodes, 2002 – see Abstract)


My commentaries to the video-clips are intended to assist in the communication of the meanings of relationally dynamic standards of judgment, the living logics of living educational theories and the ways in which insights from traditional propositional and dialectical theories can be integrated within the living theories. I believe that the communication will be helped if you could approach the relationships between the clips with a similar quality of 'exquisite connectivity' expressed by Scholes-Rhodes.


The first two clips are of:


Moira Laidlaw non-verbal communications in teaching in China

Eden Charles and Alan Rayner with Ubuntu and Inclusionality


You can access the clips from the streamed server by either clicking on the live url above or the image below. As I look at them I am aware of the relational dynamic presence of both my local self as a photographer and the non-local socio-historical and socio-cultural influences that are present within the space. For example:


In 2003 as I took the clip in a classroom of Guyuan Teachers College (Now Ningxia Teachers University) Moira Laidlaw has completed 3 years of her 5 years as a VSO Volunteer in China. In 2004 she received the Friend of China award from Premier Wen Jiabao. Moira is aware of the historical influence of the Chinese culture that has emphasized a Confucian conformity at the expense of individual questioning and creativity. At the end of the clip Moira draws a student to her to congratulate her on showing the courage to question something that Moira had done in the class and to emphasise the importance of individual questioning and creativity. Moira's doctoral enquiry can be accessed from .


The second clip shows Alan preparing for a radio interview for an American radio-show. Eden is showing an awareness of both the local presence of Alan's anxiety over the presentation and the non-local influence of the kinds of communication that might be heard by an American audience. Eden is expressing his Ubuntu way of being, enquiring and knowing in his relationship with Alan. He has evolved and communicated his meanings of Ubuntu in his doctoral research programme that answers his question, How Can I Bring Ubuntu As A Living Standard of Judgement Into The Academy? Moving Beyond Decolonisation Through Societal Reidentification And Guiltless Recognition? You can access Eden's thesis at . Through this multi-media narrative with its living logic, Eden communicates the meaning of Ubuntu as it is expressed as a living standard of judgment in his life as a father, educator and international consultant. This includes his responses to some difficult and painful experiences in Africa and elsewhere.


Through placing this presentation in the flow of communication in web-space I believe that I am enhancing the possibilities that the lives, understandings, life-affirming energy, love, anger, pain and pleasure of those on the video-clips can contribute to this flow of energy and understanding.



 Continuing with the first of the three clips below I am explaining my understanding of the African notion of Ubuntu, to a workshop at the University of the Free State in South Africa in 2006. It is my belief that amplifying the flow-form communication of qualities that distinguish an Ubuntu way of being, enquiring and knowing, through the interconnecting and branching communication channels of communication provided by web-space, is helping to bring more fully into the world the values and understandings that are contributing to the future of humanity. It is my belief that if we could find ways of enhancing the flow of this Ubuntu way of being the world would be a better place to be. I do not mean to imply that the unique constellation of values and understanding that constitute an Ubuntu way of being, exclude the contributions to the future of humanity of other constellation of values. Each individual can account for themselves as a unique human being, within the diversity of the constellations of values and understandings that constitute each individual's living theory.


The second clip is of Je Kan Adler Collins preparing for his transfer seminar from an M.Phil. into a Ph.D. research programme. Je Kan successfully transferred and is now in the process of submission. His research is focused on an explanation of his educational influence in the development of a curriculum for the healing nurse at Fukuoka University in Japan. It is informed by his Buddhist faith and understandings. It draws on a living theory approach as he develops his inclusional pedagogy of the unique. I believe that the visual data enables Je Kan's presence to be felt as a flow of loving, life-affirming energy in his knowledge-creation that resonates with my own exploration of the meanings of Ubuntu in the first clip. You can access Je Kan's living action research web-space at .


The third clip is of Jean McNiff at a seminar at St. Mary's College, Twickenham, UK in 2006. Jean is describing the global contexts in which she is supporting a living theory approach to teachers' professional development. These contexts include her work in South Africa, Iceland, the UK, Ireland and China (we are both visiting professors at Ningxia Teachers University in China). Jean was present at the workshop in South African in the first of the three clips below where I am exploring the meanings of Ubuntu. From the relational dynamic of the work we have done together and through Jean's passion for sharing ideas through writing, many publications have emerged on action research  and living theory.  These publications are having an acknowledged educational influence around the world. You can access some of Jean's writings from and explore her educational influence in the research programmes she has supervised at . Each time I access my own web-space at I experience the pleasure of seeing:


"For beginning practitioner-researchers see the action planner and see Jean McNiff's Action research for professional development: Concise advice for new action researchers . A celebration of 21 years of collaboration with Jack Whitehead"


Here are the three clips:


Jack Whitehead on Ubuntu

Je Kan Adler Collins preparing for transfer to Ph.D.

Jean McNiff's support for action research in global contexts



The next set of three clips I did not video. They were provided by Branko Bognar, a Croatian educator, working with teachers and their pupils to develop an action research approach to improving learning. I first watched these clips in 2005 with Moira Laidlaw and we were both surprised by the capacities of the 10 year old pupils to demonstrate their understandings of an action research approach to improving their learning. Drawing the attention of  teachers in the UK to these capacities of 10 year old pupils in Croatia has encouraged them to support their own pupils in the evolution of their own action research. The influence of the interconnecting and branching channels of communication and potential influenced opened through web-space can be seen in Joy Mounter's account of her enquiry,   Can children carry out action research about learning, creating their own learning theory?  (see with the Appendix of the video-clips of the 6 year old pupils). Through seeing the video-clips provided by Branko Bognar I began to stress the importance of teacher-researchers working with pupil-researchers. Karen Collins, in her doctoral enquiries with pupils as researchers, had already alerted me to the educational value of recognizing pupils as researchers. With the additional motivation of the clips from Branko I began to encourage the teachers I supervise to include their pupils as researchers in their educational enquiries. Joy Mounter was already relating to her pupils with this participatory intent and produced one of the most significant educational enquiries I have had the pleasure of tutoring. It's significance can be appreciated through the video-clips of the pupils as they respond to and offer their reconstruction of a model of learning known as Thinking Actively in a Social Context (TASC) (Wallace, 2002).


Branko Bognar on action research with pupils in Croatia

Stimulating Creativity with 3rd and 4th Grade

10 year old pupils in Croatia explaining action research


In the next set of four clips, the first two show the dynamic of my supervisory relationship with Jacqueline Delong in her doctoral research programme. In the first clip there is the expression of tension when the Abstract needs improving. In the second there is a therapeutic expression (in the sense of a flow of life-affirming energy) of pleasure with humour. The third clip is included to emphasise that non-local influences of socio-historical and socio-cultural boundaries can sometimes constrain the expression of academic freedom and inclusional ways of being, enquiring and knowing. The clip is a performance text in the sense of being a re-enactment of my appearance before a Senate committee about a matter of academic freedom. I am responding to a draft report by the committee in which there is no mention of the pressures I have experienced that could have constrained my freedom. Following my response the final report to Senate acknowledged that I had been subjected to pressures that might have constrained a less determined individual.


Love, pain, anger, pleasure and life-affirming energy are in the title of this contribution. My love for what I do in education, with a flow of life-affirming energy from the cosmos/universe, has sustained my vocational passion. In the last 40 years of my professional life I know that I have experienced much anger at what I perceive as injustice in the world. Part of my passion for education emerged with the recognition of what I perceived as a lack of recognition in schools and universities of the desire of individuals to accept an educational responsibility for their own learning. In managing my anger I value most highly the psychoanalytic insights I gained from reading Anna Freud's work in 1966. I am thinking of her descriptions, in her writings on normality and pathology in childhood, of some 13 defence mechanisms we can employ in responding to pain and anger. Over the years I believe that I have used these to good effect in combining a recognition of the legitimate expression of anger with the development of an understanding that prevents the projection of inappropriate responses onto others because of a pathologised response to anger and pain. Yaakub Murray has recently understood how to prevent the projection of such inappropriate responses through an awareness of the idea of narcissistic injury and I shall reference this work as soon as it becomes available.


During the course of 40 years engagement in education I have encountered colleagues who have taken early retirement on health grounds that are related to mental health issues related to stress. I do not want to be seen to be ignoring the importance of sustaining a feeling of well-being in the work place for one's productive work. The focused emotion in the performance text of the third video below expresses, I think, my legitimate anger at what I perceive as an injustice. I believe my awareness of the dangers of pathologising the intense emotions associated with anger has so far enabled me to avoid the pathologising influence of anger, through the therapeutic expression of pleasure, as shown in the second clip, and through feeling part of the extension of the support for the creation of cultures of inquiry described by Jacqueline Delong in the fourth clip and in her thesis (Delong, 2002) at . The thesis that has influenced most, my understanding of the power of a visual narrative to communicate the meanings and educational significance of emotion, is Marian Naidoo's exploration of a passion for compassion. Marian's DVD in her thesis was the first doctorate to make extensive use of the 2004 regulation of the University of Bath to permit the submission of e-media.


The following four clips, taken together, share my understandings of a local influence in supporting the generation of a living educational theory on the creation of a culture of inquiry to support teacher-research (Delong, 2002). The space is not without its creative tensions and flows with life-affirming energy and pleasure. The atemporal alongsideness of the third clip enables the non-local influences of power relations that needed facing and overcoming in the legitimation of living theories in the Academy. These power relations and their constraining influences have necessitated overcoming potentially pathologising responses to anger, pain and humiliation.




Jacqueline Delong and Jack Whitehead with a Ph.D. Abstract

Jacqueline Delong and Jack Whitehead on Wisdom and Pleasure

Jack Whitehead Responding to matters of power and academic freedom

Jacqueline Delong responding to a question on supporting teacher research at an International Conference on Teacher Research


The next three clips show the non-verbal responses between Louise Cripps (a headteacher working for her masters degree) and me. It was taken in 2007 at the end of a masters unit session on educational enquiry that I tutor in the University of Bath. We both experience the clip as showing that our educational relationship is one of mutually receptive responsiveness in which we are communicating without any violation of the integrity and identity of the other. I like this clip because I feel a mutuality of inclusion with Louise that resonates in my understanding what Buber means by 'the special humility of the educator':


"If this educator should ever believe that for the sake of education he  has to practise selection and arrangement, then he will be guided by another criterion than that of inclination, however legitimate this may be in its own sphere; he will be guided by the recognition of values which is in his glance as an educator. But even then his selection remains suspended, under constant correction by the special humility of the educator for whom the life and particular being of all his pupils is the decisive factor to which his 'hierarchical' recognition is subordinated." (Buber, p. 122, 1947)


The second clip shows a similar quality of mutually receptive responsiveness between Yaakub-Paulus Murray and me. Yaakub is sharing ideas from a text on Progressive Islam and, as with the clip with Jacqueline Delong, we are showing the pleasure in the expression of the humour in the flow of life-affirming energy. The qualities of educational relationship shown in this clip show two educators, one who self-designates as a progressive muslim and the other who characterises his spirituality in terms of a loving, life-affirming energy, engaged in an educational enquiry with the other. While we had given permission for students in the session to video, we were not aware that this clip was being made. The movement in the clip serves to emphasise the relationally dynamic nature of the context in which the conversation is taking place.


The third clip shows a similar expression of life-affirming energy with pleasure and humour as Peter Mellett leads the celebration on Jacqueline Delong's graduation day on the 18 December 2002 (the clip was taken by a camera set up by Sarah Fletcher, a colleague at the time). It shows the relationally dynamic flows of receptive responsiveness between the participants in the expression of affirmation for Jacqueline's accomplishment. In explaining my educational influence in my own learning, in the learning of others and the learning of social formations, I feel that a flow of life-affirming energy helps to sustain my productive life in education. As I look at the shared communications and mutual affirmations in the video-clips below I am feeling the quality of affirmation that I associate with the early writings of Marx:


Suppose we had produced things as human beings: in his production each of us would have twice affirmed himself and the other.


In my production I would have objectified my individuality and its particularity, and in the course of the activity I would have enjoyed an individual life, in viewing the object I would have experienced the individual joy of knowing my personality as an objective, sensuously perceptible, and indubitable power.


In your satisfaction and your use of my product I would have had the direct and conscious satisfaction that my work satisfied a human need, that it objectified human nature, and that it created an object appropriate to the need of another human being.


I would have been the mediator between you and the species and you would have experienced me as a redintegration of your own nature and a necessary part of yourself; I would have been affirmed in your thought as well as your love.


In my individual life I would have directly created your life, in my individual activity I would have immediately confirmed and realized my true human nature. (Bernstein, 1971, p. 48)


Louise&Jack270307   Non-verbal Communication

Jack responding to Yaakub's enquiry into Progressive Islam

Peter Mellett celebrating on Jacqueline Delong's Graduation




The collage of 6 clips below contains five clips of colleagues in the Bath and North East Somerset Authority who are working to enhance the quality of educational provision for all the children in B&NES. The first clip is of Nigel Harrisson, Manager of the inclusion support services in B&NES. He is at the 2006, British Educational Research Association (BERA) seminar, convened by Eleanor Lohr to enquire into Love at Work (the title of Eleanor's doctoral thesis at: Nigel is expressing his belief in the significance of love in his work. The second clip may seem unconnected to the other five. It is of Ram Punia, an international consultant on education who received his Ed.D. from the University of Bath for his thesis on, The Making Of An International Educator With Spiritual Values (you can access Ram's writings at I have included the video-clip of Ram talking about a proposed workshop in Mauritius, which he has now implemented, because web-space permits me to place the flow of Ram's spiritual values of inclusionality alongside the flow of values of Nigel and his colleagues Christine, Marie and Kate in the clips that follow. I believe that bringing these clips together can serve the purpose of showing how the values of individuals can be amplified in a confluence with the values of others that carry hope for humanity and hence bring them more fully into the world.


The third clip is of Christine Jones at an Inclusion Recognition Ceremony at the Guildhall in Bath, in June 2007. Christine is the Inclusion Officer for B&NES and takes the lead in the award of the Inclusion Quality Mark in schools. Christine works with Marie Huxtable and on Wednesday mornings we have been meeting at the headquarters of B&NES between 8.00-9.00 for conversations on improving practice. The video-clips of Marie Huxtable and Kate Kemp were taken in these conversations where both are explaining what really matters to them. The clip of Marie and Christine at BERA 06 shows them living their values and understandings of inclusionality as they explore the implications of their research into inclusion with their audience. One of the benefits of this multi-media narrative is that it can include video-clips that open quickly from a streaming server. One disadvantage is that the clips cannot be seen to be moving in the collage. This disadvantage can be overcome on a DVD where all the clips can be shown playing. The advantage of having the clips playing simultaneously is that they can communicate the relational dynamic of communications through web-space with atemporal boundaries that the viewer can relate to through their own receptive responsiveness.


Nigel Harrisson contributing at BERA 2006

Ram Punia reflecting on a proposed workshop in Mauritius

Chris Jones at Inclusion Recognition Ceremony 040707

Marie Huxtable and Christine Jones at BERA 06.

Marie Huxtable - what really matters

Kate Kemp Expressing values to live by




In distinguishing what is 'educational' I have drawn on Biesta's understandings of learning as acquisition and learning as response. I  am also drawn to the Biesta's point about the significance of educational responsibility:


"One of the central ideas of the book is that we come into the world as unique individuals through the ways in which we respond responsibly to what and who is other. I argue that the responsibility of the educator not only lies in the cultivation of "worldly spaces" in which the encounter with otherness and difference is a real possibility, but that it extends to asking "difficult questions": questions that summon us to respond responsively and responsibly to otherness and difference in our own, unique ways." (p. ix)




"I have therefore argued that the educational responsibility is not only a responsibility for the coming into the world of unique and singular beings; it is also a responsibility for the world as a world of plurality and difference. The creation of such a world, the creation of a worldly space, is not something that can be done in a straightforward manner. It rather entails a "double duty" for the creation of worldly spaces and for their undoing. Along these lines I have tried to articulate a way to understand education that itself responds to the challenges we are faced with today, including the disappearance of a language of education in the age of learning."   (pp. 117-118)


In all the clips I feel that I understand the expression of each individual's educational responsibility as a living standard of judgment in what they saying and how they are saying it. I continue to feel the expression of this educational responsibility in the final group of three clips. These include Margaret Farren with masters students in a validation group at Dublin City University, Louise Cripps, a headteacher, with her pupils and Margaret Farren and Yvonne Crotty at the 2007 Annual Conference of the American Educational Research Association in Chicago. Margaret's doctoral research programme on 'How can I create a pedagogy of the unique through a web of betweeness?' stresses the importance of her coming into the world of education as a unique and singular being with a responsibility for the world. This is a world of plurality and difference, held together with a web of betweenness that has its genesis in a celtic spirituality. Watching Maggie at work in the first clip of a validation group with a group of masters students and watching Louise Cripps at work with her pupils evokes a resonance in my understanding between these educational relationships in which I'm saying 'It doesn't get much better than this'. What I am meaning is that I can see educators at work who understand, and can live, the special humanity of the educator that Buber writes about. I can see and feel a creative space that attracts the creative and engaged responses of the participants. I can see and feel the relational dynamic of inclusional educational relationships in which enquiry is invited and valued.


The third clip is at the beginning of Margaret's and Yvonne's presentation at AERA 2007 on Legitimating New Living Standards Of Judgment In The Academy. Yvonne is expressing her living value of inclusionality as she relates to a member of the group that she doesn't know. Yvonne continues to engage with the newcomer until she feels that the other is included and that it feels comfortable to begin. In watching Yvonne and the dance of communication with Margaret, I feel the expression of their life-affirming energies being expressed in this relational dynamic of inclusionality at the beginning of their presentation.




The methodological contribution to educational knowledge includes the use of action research cycles to clarify the meanings of educational values in the course of their emergence in practice. The research programmes in Appendix Two have influenced my understandings of the expression of the meanings of values such as love, compassion, justice, ubuntu and knowledge and gift creation (Hymer, 2007, Huxtable and Whitehead, 2007). They have influenced my understandings of how the unique constellation of an individual's values can be formed into living and communicable, epistemological standards of judgment. It has been a privilege to supervise many of these research programmes and I do hope that you will find the time to read the abstracts and that these will entice you into the contents.


The methodological contribution also includes the use of visual narratives with web-based e-media to represent the complex relational dynamics of educational influences in learning. Some of these educational influences are related to sociohistorical and sociocultural influences using insights from critical social theories in the generation of living educational theories that engage with issues of power and privilege in society (Noffke, 1997). Such issues of power and privilege can be related back to a BERA symposium of 1985 on Action Research, Educational Theory and The Politics of Educational Knowledge in which Eames (1996) Larter (1987) and myself (Whitehead, 1999) presented our self-study research into improving our educational practices. The work of these researchers, together with the researchers of Holley (1997) and D'Arcy (1998) Austin (2001) Finnegan (2000) and Cunningham (1999) (See Appendix Two) have been most significant in the creation of the professional knowledge-base of educational knowledge flowing from .


More recently Sullivan (2006) and McDonogh (2007) have made the gifts of their doctoral theses freely available through web-space. These gifts include similar methodology contribution to those described above and focus on:


A living theory of a practice of social justice: Realising the right of Traveller Children to educational equality. Bernie Sullivan's PhD thesis, 2006, graduated from Limerick University.


My living theory of  learning to teach for social justice: How do I enable primary school children with specific learning disability (dyslexia) and myself as their teacher to realise our learning potentials? Caitriona McDonagh's PhD thesis, 2007, graduated from Limerick University.





In seeking to explain, inclusional educational influences in learning with love, anger, pleasure and life-affirming energy, in receptively-responsive educational enquiries, I am generating and sharing my living educational theory. I believe that the relationally dynamic logics and living standards of judgement of inclusionality are establishing the new epistemology for educational knowledge which Schon (1995) called for but died before he could develop. What I like about Alan Rayner's idea of feeding life with death, rather than death with life, in his poem about Sphagnum Moss is that we can affirm the life-affirming energy and understandings of others who have passed on, like Schon, in the expression of our own.


In affirming the value of living educational theories I am aware of my explicit acceptance of the validity of each theory. I hold the living theories to be valid in terms of Habermas' (1976, pp.2-3) four criteria of social validity in that their validities have been strengthened through being subjected to, and responsive to:


i)               questions of their comprehensibility;

ii)             the evidence used to justify assertions;

iii)            the explicitness of the values that constitute the normative background of the writings;

iv)            the evidence that shows that over time and through interaction the researcher has established his or her authenticity in showing a commitment to living as fully as possible the values they explicitly espouse.


In the integration of insights from critical theories such as that of Habermas into my living educational theory, I am still moved by the insights of Erich Fromm that I understood whilst a student on my initial teacher education programme at Newcastle University (see ). It was Habermas' insights in his work on the Legitimation Crisis that helped to focus my attention on the significance of transforming standards of judgment in the Academy:


'It is my conjecture that the fundamental mechanism for social evolution in general is to be found in an automatic inability not to learn. Not learning, but not-learning is the phenomenon that calls for explanation at the socio-cultural stage of development. Therein lies, if you will, the rationality of man. Only against this background does the over-powering irrationality of the history of the species become visible.' (Habermas, 1975, p. 15)


 The following insight from Habermas, about the need to focus on learning, continues to inform my work as I support the move advocated by Biesta (2006) in moving beyond a language of learning into a language of education:


"... I have attempted to free historical materialism from its philosophical ballast. Two abstractions are required for this: I) abstracting the development of the cognitive structures from the historical dynamic of events, and ii) abstracting the evolution of society from the historical concretion of forms of life. Both help in getting beyond the confusion of basic categories to which the philosophy of history owes its existence.


A theory developed in this way can no longer start by examining concrete ideals immanent in traditional forms of life. It must orient itself to the range of learning processes that is opened up at a given time by a historically attained level of learning. It must refrain from critically evaluating and normatively ordering totalities, forms of life and cultures, and life-contexts and epochs as a whole. And yet it can take up some of the intentions for which the interdisciplinary research program of earlier critical theory remains instructive.


Coming at the end of a complicated study of the main features of a theory of communicative action, this suggestion cannot count even as a "promissory note." It is less a promise than a conjecture." (Habermas, 1987, p. 383)


While space prevents a detailed analysis of the evidence from the living theories, they can also meet the five criteria of validity described by Herr and Anderson and the criterion of transformational validity described by James (2007) and which I referred to earlier.


1.     Outcome validity centers on whether and to what extent actions taken during the study proved efficacious in improving educational practices for students.

2.     Process validity is softer and more difficult to prove, as it asks the question of whether and to what extent the project resulted in an increase in knowledge and systems that improve the overall educational environment that was studied. 

3.     Democratic validity is proved through data and analysis of increased participation of the underserved in decision-making positions.

4.     Catalytic validity demonstrated when the project results in greater than could be expected involvement from outside parties in the issue being studied.

5.     Dialogic validity is the extent to which the PAR practitioner can demonstrate that a diverse group of stakeholders were involved in reviewing data, results, and conclusions and provided input into the final analysis (Herr & Anderson, 2005, pp. 55–57). 


Looking at the video-clips above, and seeing them together, I am aware of flows of relational values and understandings that are connecting through the boundaries of the clips and commentaries. I feel privileged and revitalised in experiencing the life-affirming energies, the love for what we are doing and the pleasure of sharing our ways of being, enquiring and knowing as we learn to express these values and understandings more fully within the hostspace of the universe we inhabit.


The access to streamed servers over the past year has transformed my capacity to share ideas using visual narratives because of the speed of downloading the video-clips. The theses referred to in this paragraph were produced before the access to the streamed servers and under the old regulations of the University of Bath that did not permit the submission of e-media. In my enthusiasm for multi-media accounts I do not want to forget the continuing historical, cultural and educational influences of the living theory theses of Larter (1987), Eames (1996), Holley (1997), D'Arcy (1998), Austin (2001), Finnegan (2000) and Cunningham (1999) in their flow through web-space from . For those wanting to see how propositional theories can be integrated into a living theory I recommend Part Three of Finnegan's thesis at where he engages with the ideas of Rawls and Sen in relation to justice. In her study of her educational relationships with an individual pupil, with a class of pupils and with a school-wide staff appraisal system, Holley (1997) shows her engagement and educational influence in her own learning with her pupil, class and colleagues, as she answers her question How do I as a teacher-researcher contribute to the development of a living educational theory through an exploration of my values in my professional practice? Holley engages with the institutional and national power relations that are seeking to impose a hierarchical form of appraisal as she demonstrates how this imposition can be resisted and transcended with a participatory form of appraisal with colleagues.  Larter (1987) breaks the mould of propositional presentations in research degrees with a dialogical presentation of An action research approach to classroom discussion in the examination years :  


The dissertation is presented in a dialogical form as part of an exploration of a 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. 
I have also been concerned with issues of validity which have been raised in this form of enquiry. Because of the dialogical nature of the research, the dissertation contains extracts from conversations between colleagues and myself who discussed video films, sound recordings, students' writing as well as my own writing about what I observed. Within this dialogue and reflection, I have attempted to integrate literature from the field of educational research. This integration takes the form of dialogues with the texts as well as with my own reflections. (Abstract, Larter, 1987).


It was Erica Holley who suggested the theme of Accounting for Ourselves for the Third World Congress on Action Learning, Action Research and Process Management in Bath in 1994 and her insights into the quality of educational relationships make her affirmations of my own all the more valuable:


  You offer acceptance of me for what I am and push at the boundaries of what I could become. You accept ideas, puzzlement and confusion from me as part of a process of me coming to understand but the understanding reached seems always a new understanding for us both. I think I've seen our work as collaborative parallelism – (e-mail 23 January, 2005)


It was Pat D'Arcy who convinced me of the need to transform my tendency to give an immediate Yes-But response to the narratives of others, by focusing on the significance of giving an aesthetically appreciative and engaged response to the narratives. This was part of Pat's educational influence in my learning during the process of supervising her doctoral research programme.


The work of Kevin Eames is particularly significant for showing the educational influences in learning of relationally dynamic communications through boundaries and across national contexts. In Chapter Six of his thesis Eames writes about 'Growing Your Own' a reference to a school-based research group at Wootton School in Wiltshire, UK, in 1990. Linda Grant, an Officer working on Continuing Professional Development Programmes for the Ontario College of Teachers, visited the UK and Wootton Bassett School in the early 1990s. Linda liked what she saw Kevin doing together with his ideas and communicated these to Jacqueline Delong, a Superintendent of Schools in the Grand Erie Board in Ontario. Jacqueline liked the ideas being generated with my support from the University of Bath and registered for her doctorate in 1996. Jacqueline integrated and extended Kevin's ideas in her research programme into the creation of a culture of inquiry to support teacher research in the Grand Erie District School Board and now Jacqueline's living educational theory is flowing through web-space, alongside Kevin's and the other living theories flowing from . The accounts of the teacher-researchers supported by Jacqueline in the GEDSB in Ontario can be accessed from .


I hope that this last example, of the spread of the influence of the living theories of individuals, serves to emphasise their potential significance in enhancing the flow of values and understandings that can make the world a better place to be. I have explained that a living logic is required to comprehend the relationally dynamic nature of the explanations that constitute an individual's living educational theory. One of the tests of validity of the above ideas could draw on Herr and Anderson's (2005) idea of catalytic validity. I mean this in the sense of whether or not the ideas captivate your imaginations in a way that helps to motivate the generation and sharing of your living educational theories alongside the other living theories flowing freely through web-space. As I look back on the past 40 years of my professional life in education I continue with the conviction that the generation and sharing of the living educational theory of one individual can make a significant contribution to enhancing the quality of the loving and productive lives of all. If you believe my conviction to be mistaken I do hope that you will accept the educational responsibility of explaining my mistake as a way of helping me to enhance the quality of my productive life in education. My final points relate to the meanings of talents and gifts in education and present government policy on gifted and talented education. The policy is supporting the identification of 10% of pupils in each school on a register. An inclusional approach to gifts and talents in education holds that everyone has talents that can be developed and used in the creation of gifts that can be freely offered to others. Barry Hymer (2007) has explored the implications of this view in his own doctoral thesis and it was a pleasure to celebrate Barry's graduation on the 13 July 2007 with a presentation in the Department of Education of Newcastle University some 40 years after I left the Department after my initial teacher education programme (Whitehead, 2007b).


Every practitioner-researcher described above has expressed and developed their talents, many in the production of a research thesis that has been offered freely as a gift for others in the hope that the other will find something of use in the insights of the gift. In my thinking about the gifts we offer freely, I understand the economic imperative to earn money through selling our labour. I also know that I have been fortunate to spend the last 40 years earning a living from doing what I believe to be worthwhile in education. This includes making freely available the gifts of living educational theories in their flow through web-space.  The accessibility of these gifts for those with the technology to access them, seems likely to increase with the spread of cheap and easy access to the internet. The latest gift to be made available is that of Swaroop Rawal (2006) on the role of drama in enhancing life skills in children with specific learning difficulties in a Mumbai school: My reflective account. In her acknowledgements Swaroop thanked Tony Ghaye for introducing her to reflective practice and action research. A question Tony Ghaye asked in 1999 has remained with me as one of the most moral and courageous of action research questions,  'How can I help the most disadvantaged children in Bombay (Mumbai)?' This kind of question brings me back to the relationships between sociocultural and sociohistorical theories and the generation of living educational theories.


In a paper to be presented at a seminar at the University of Bath, Kam-cheung Wong (2007) draws on the work of Hofstede, Geertz and Zehou, to show how current educational situations in mainland China are the results of culture and history. The value to our understandings of such analyses that draw on propositional theories is that they can explain how existing social formations came into existence and are being reproduced. However it is a central assumption in this paper that to understand the transformatory processes in the education of social formations, it is necessary for the creativity and uniqueness of individuals to be recognized. It is necessary to go further than this recognition and to integrate, within the understandings of the education of social formations, the genesis and sharing of each individual's living educational theory. Hence my emphasis in this presentation on the educational responsibility of each individual for generating and sharing their own living educational theory in their educational enquiries into living a loving and productive life for themselves and with others. I am hoping that this presentation serves to stimulate your pleasurable and life-affirming expression of your responsibility towards the other in sharing your own explanation of your educational influence in your own learning, in the learning of others and in the learning of the social formations in which we are working and living together.






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Appendix One


A Fuller Explanation For My Focus On Educational Theory In My Vocation Of Education


I felt a sense of vocation for education in 1966 when reflecting on what might be worthwhile to do with my life. Looking back on my experiences of education in school and university I felt pleased that the qualifications of 'O' 'A' levels and a science degree opened up a range of choices for employment. Yet I felt something was missing. I felt that the specialisms in my 6th form education and my science degree had only given me a narrow understanding of the range of possible understandings that a wider curriculum could have provided. I also felt the something vital had been missing in the relationships with almost all my teachers in school and university. What had been missing was a recognition, from my teachers, that I accepted an educational responsibility with pleasure and life-affirming energy for my own learning. I experienced this recognition in conversation with my parents so I knew what I was missing in the relationships with my teachers in school and university.


In responding to this experience I felt that I might do something to enhance the quality of educational relationships through my work in education. Hence my decision to become a teacher and to join the initial teacher education programme in the Department of Education of the University of Newcastle in 1966. In July 2007 I presented a paper in the Department to celebrate my 40 years of professional engagement in education and to recognise the value of the freedom provided by the Department to study the ideas of John Dewey, Erich Fromm, Richard Peters and Anna Freud (Whitehead, 2007 - ). The paper acknowledges how much this freedom and these ideas have meant to me in the growth of my educational knowledge. The paper explains that my sense of vocation in education changed in 1971. It changed after five years teaching in London Comprehensive Schools and four years of part-time study for my academic diploma in the philosophy and psychology of education and my masters degree in the psychology of education at the Institute of Education of the University of London.


The change occurred because of a conflict I experienced between the dominant view of educational theory and my explanations for my educational influence in my own learning and in the learning of my pupils. The dominant view, known as the disciplines approach, was that educational theory was constituted by the disciplines of the history, philosophy, sociology and psychology of education. Having initially accepted this view of educational theory I came to see it as mistaken in 1971 because of its assumption that educational theory required that the principles I used to explain my educational practices must be replaced (Hirst, 1983, p. 18) by principles with more fundamental justification drawn from the disciplines of education and not from my educational practice. The recognition of this mistake and colonising influence of the dominant view of educational theory in the professional knowledge-base of education led to a change in my sense of vocation. It was a colonising influence because it rejected the validity of the embodied knowledge of professional educators. Because I felt that a valid educational theory was vital in enhancing professionalism in education I decided to see if I could contribute to such a theory. Hence I applied to join the School of Education of the University of Bath in 1973 and I have spent the last 34 years as an educator in Higher Education and as an educational researcher to contribute to this development.

Appendix Two


Research Programmes That Have Influenced Ideas In The Presentation


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. Retrieved 19 February 2004 from


Evans, M. (1995) An action research enquiry into reflection in action as part of my role as a deputy headteacher. Ph.D. Thesis, Kingston University. Retrieved 19 February 2004 from


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. Retrieved 19 February 2004 from


Holley, E. (1997) How do I as a teacher-researcher contribute to the development of a living educational theory through an exploration of my values in my professional practice? M.Phil., University of Bath. Retrieved 19 February 2004 from


 D'Arcy, P. (1998) The Whole Story..... Ph.D. Thesis, University of Bath. Retrieved 19 February 2004 from


 Loftus, J. (1999) An action enquiry into the marketing of an established first school in its transition to full primary status. Ph.D. thesis, Kingston University. Retrieved 19 February 2004 from


Whitehead, J. (1999) How do I improve my practice?  Creating a discipline of education through educational enquiry. Ph.D. University of Bath. Retrieved 19 February 2004 from


Cunningham, B. (1999) How do I come to know my spirituality as I create my own living educational theory? Ph.D. Thesis, University of Bath. Retrieved 19 February 2004 from


Adler-Collins, J. (2000) A Scholarship of Enquiry, M.A. dissertation, University of Bath. Retrieved 19 February 2004 from


Finnegan, (2000) How do I create my own educational theory in my educative relations as an action researcher and as a teacher? Ph.D. submission, University of Bath. Retrieved 19 February 2004 from


Austin, T. (2001) Treasures in the Snow: What do I know and how do I know it through my educational inquiry into my practice of community? Ph.D. Thesis, University of Bath. Retrieved 19 February 2004 from


Mead, G. (2001) Unlatching the Gate: Realising the Scholarship of my Living Inquiry. Ph.D. University of Bath. Retrieved 19 February 2004 from


Bosher, M. (2001) How can I as an educator and Professional Development Manager working with teachers, support and enhance the learning and achievement of pupils in a whole school improvement process? Ph.D. University of Bath. Retrieved 19 February 2004 from


Delong, J. (2002) How Can I Improve My Practice As A Superintendent of Schools and Create My Own Living Educational Theory? Ph.D. University of Bath. Retrieved 19 February 2004 from


Scholes-Rhodes, J. (2002) From the Inside Out: Learning to presence my aesthetic and spiritual being through the emergent form of a creative art of inquiry. Ph.D. University of Bath. Retrieved 19 February 2004 from


Roberts, P. (2003) Emerging Selves in Practice: How do I and others create my practice and how does my practice shape me and influence others? Ph.D. University of Bath. Retrieved 19 August 2004 from


Punia, R. (2004) My CV is My Curriculum: The Making of an International Educator with Spiritual Values. Ed.D. University of Bath. Retrieved 19 August 2004 from


Hartog, M. (2004) A Self Study Of A Higher Education Tutor: How Can I Improve My Practice? Ph.D. University of Bath. Retrieved 19 August 2004 from


Church, M. (2004) Creating an uncompromised place to belong: Why do I find myself in networks? Retrieved 24 May 2005 from


Naidoo, M. (2005) I am Because We Are. (My never-ending story) The emergence of a living theory of inclusional and responsive practice. Ph.D. University of Bath. Retrieved 2 April 2006 from


Farren, M. (2005) How can I create a pedagogy of the unique through a web of betweenness? Ph.D. University of Bath. Retrieved 2 April 2006 from


Lohr, E. (2006) Love at Work: What is my lived experience of love and how might I become an instrument of love's purpose? Ph.D. University of Bath. Retrieved 26 May 2006 from


Sullivan, B. (2006) A living theory of a practice of social justice: Realising the right of traveller children for educational equality. Ph.D. University of Limerick. Supervised by Jean McNiff. Retrieved 6 July 2006 from


Rawal, S. (2006) The Role of Drama in enhancing life skills in children with specific learning difficulties in a Mumbai School. My Reflective Account. Retrieved 15 August 2007 from


Charles, E. (2007) How can I bring Ubuntu as a living standards of judgment into the Academy? Moving Beyond Decolonisiation Through Societal Reidentification And Guiltless Recognition. Ph.D. University of Bath. Retrieved 15 August 2007 from


Follows, M. (2007) Looking For A Fairer Assessment Of Children's Learning, Development And Attainment In The Infant Years: An Educational Action Research Case Study. See Chapter 7 on Creating Living Educational Theory About Assessment In The Infant Years at . Ph.D. University of Plymouth.


Hymer, B. (2007) How do I understand and communicate my values and beliefs in my work as an educator in the field of giftedness? Ph.D. University of Newcastle. Retrieved 15 August 2007 from 

This document was added to the Education-Line database on 07 November 2007