A Living Educational Theory (Living Theory) Approach to Research and Life

A Living Educational Theory (Living Theory) approach focuses attention on the experiences and implications of living values that carry hope for the flourishing of humanity. These values are the life-affirming and life-enhancing values that give meaning and purpose to the researcher’s life. They are clarified as they emerge in the course of researching questions such as, ‘How am I improving what I am doing?’ They form the explanatory principles and standards by which improvements in both practice and knowledge-creation are judged.

The approach stresses the importance of extending the influence of these ontological and relational values and understandings in explanations of educational influence. In a Living Educational Theory approach to research and a human existence, individuals hold their lives to account by producing accounts of their living-educational theories; that is ‘explanations of their educational influences in their own learning, the learning of others and the learning of social formations, in enquiries of the kind, 'How am I improving what I am doing?'’(Whitehead, 1989).

A Living Theory researcher can use methods and draw insights from a range of other methodologies and theories, such as Action Research, Narrative Enquiry, Self-Study, Participatory Research, Autoethnography, Ethnography, Grounded Theory, Critical Theory and Case Study, as well as various quantitative methods. Researchers new to Living Theory research might visit an introduction and read the Advanced Bluffer’s Guide.

For tutors and action researchers on masters degree programmes interested in classroom research and action reflection see Action planning in improving practice and in generating educational knowledge See also the Master's Writings.

For Living Theory continuing professional development Programmes (CPD) see Living Values, Improving Practice Co-operatively.

For supervisors and Living Theory researchers on doctoral programmes interested in research methodologies see Doctoral Writings

For those wanting to develop their support for doctoral and masters researchers and looking for further references try here

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Jack Whitehead, Visiting Professor, University of Cumbria, UK. E-mail me at jack@actionresearch.net

What's new in the 2015-16 Academic Years?

Homepage of The Educational Journal Of Living Theories.

Current issue of EJOLTS, December 2015, 8(2) freely available

Open Reviewing, EJOLTS Teams and Community Space of The Educational Journal Of Living Theories.

The Login Page for the Community Space of EJOLTS

Podcast of Jack Whitehead on Living Theory/Action Research interviewed by Sean Delaney (Dublin City Radio, 27/01/16)


18-20 February 2016, Conference information (submission deadline has passed) on Poverty, Globalization and Schooling: A Holistic Approach, University of Central Florida.

Notes for a presentation by Jack Whitehead to a meeting of NEARI in Dublin on the 16th January 2016 on Embracing the 'messiness' of action research in enhancing your educational influences in learning with the Network Educational Action Research Ireland (NEARI).

Notes for presentations by Jack Whitehead at Dublin City University on the 15th January 2016 on 'New Models of Digital Scholarship: How can the digital be used as a site of research and also as a channel for disseminating research on teaching?' Embracing the 'messiness' of action research in enhancing your educational influences in learning with the Network Educational Action Research Ireland (NEARI).

Shelagh Hetreed's tribute to Princess Campbell 1939-2015

The continuously updated webpage of the ACTION RESEARCH NETWORK OF THE AMERICAS (ARNA)

ALARA 9th Action Learning Action Research and 13th Participatory Action Research World Congress - Collaborative And Sustainable Learning For A Fairer World: Rhetoric or Reality? 4-7 November 2015, Pretoria, South Africa.

Developing the research potential of living-posters. A Workshop On Living Theory Research: Innovative Research Methods In Researching One’s Own Higher Education. Marie Huxtable and Jack Whitehead at the University of Cumbria 3 June 2015

Marie Huxtable and Jack Whitehead - How does Living Educational Theory research enable individuals to research into their higher education to improve it and contribute to educational knowledge? A presentation by Marie Huxtable at the BERA HE SIG on Researching into Higher Education: Innovative Research Methods on 8th May 2015 at the Institute of Education, London.

Jacqueline Delong's presentation on 'A pedagogy of loving into learning in living-cultures-of-inquiry' at the 2015 Action Research Network of the Americas Conference, Ontario Institute For Studies in Education, Toronto, Ontario, Canada on May 10.

Jack Whitehead's paper on 'How could Living Theory research contribute to the Action Research Network of the Americas?' for presentation at the 2015 ARNA conference on the 9th May in Toronto.

Successful Town Hall Meeting Proposal for 2015 Action Research Network of the Americas (ARNA) conference with the theme Joint Action - Learning with and from one another - 8-9 May in Toronto.

Powerpoint slides for Jack Whitehead's keynote to Headteachers and teachers in Nicosia, Cyprus, 25 April 2015

Paper for Jack Whitehead's keynote on 'Improving Schools with Action and Living Theory Research' to Headteachers and teachers in Nicosia, Cyprus, 25 April 2015

Notes for Jack Whitehead's contribution to the posthumous postgraduate award ceremony for Sally Cartwright at the University of Bath on the 14th April 2015. 'Sally Cartwright - Master Educator'.

From the 31st March 2015, three months of free access to the Living Theory collection in Gifted Education International, published by Sage.

Living-educational-theories of holistic approaches to poverty, globalisation and schooling: A Living Theory approach - A virtual presentation to the ‘International Conference on Poverty Globalisation and Schooling: A holistic approach’ at the University of Central Florida on the 28th February 2015.

Details of the Practitioner-Researcher 2015-16 e-seminar on JISCmail.

Join or Leave the 2015-16 Practitioner Researcher e-seminar on JISCmail.

Archives of the Practitioner-Researcher 2007-15 e-seminar on JISCmail.

Virtual Learning Space for 'Living Values, Improving Practice Co-operatively: Developing An International Action Research Continuing Professional Development Project'

2011-2014 'Transformative Education/al Studies' project in South Africa

Join the 2011-2014 'Transformative Education/al Studies' project for Masters and Doctoral enquiries by clicking here

Subscribe to JISCmail 5X5X5=CREATIVITY

The form for Joining or Leaving the Action Research Africa Network (ARAN) on JISCmail

The archives of the Action Research Africa Network (ARAN) on JISCmail

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