How Can We Improve The Educational Influences Of Our Teacher-Researcher Quests?

 

Jack Whitehead, Department of Education, University of Bath

edsajw@bath.ac.uk

See also http://www.actionresearch.netj

 

Keynote Presentation to the 12th International Conference of Teacher Research at McGill University

16th April 2005.

 

My thanks to Dariel Jacobs for her introduction and to the organising committee of ICTR 2005 for inviting me to give this keynote. I first came to Montreal in 1999 when I tutored an all women's group for a unit on action research approaches to educational leadership (http://www.bath.ac.uk/~edsajw/module/bish99.htm )

on the masters programme at Bishops University that had been organized by Fran Halliday. I still recall with great pleasure the inspiration I felt in working with these educators and sharing their commitment to enquiry learning. Although Fran is no longer with us, I hope that you will feel a flow of life-affirming energy through the embodied values of my keynote that resonates with Fran's expression of her passion for social justice, her care and compassion for others and her delight in educational enquiry and scholarship that worked for the benefit of teachers and their pupils. I am so pleased that we will be able to remember Fran's values of humanity, her humour and her contributions to education later today.

 

What I intend to share with you today are insights, connected with such embodied values, from the growth of my educational knowledge over the 32 years of my research programme as a teacher-researcher at the University of Bath (Whitehead, 2004b). These insights are focused on the educational influences in learning of the expression of embodied values of humanity and the development of living educational theories. All I am meaning by a living educational theory (Whitehead, 1989) is an explanation of an educational influence in one's own learning, in the learning of others or in the education of a social formation. Because of our uniqueness as human beings I think each of our quests will reflect the unique constellation of the values that help us to constitute who we are. As we learn from our quests, in seeking to live as fully as we can values of humanity, I think we have significant insights to share and to learn from each other.

 

As I share my own insights about improving the educational influence of our teacher-researcher quests I will bear in mind the questions asked at the first ICTR conference at Stanford University in April 1992 as these still seem most relevant today:

 

*  What are the political and conceptual challenges facing teacher research? How might they be addressed?

* How can teacher-initiated inquiry become more prominent on the educational research agenda?

* What is the role of teacher research in teacher education?

* What place can teacher research have in professional development centers?

* How does teacher research become institutionalized? (http://www.stanford.edu/dept/news/pr/92/920403Arc2324.html)

 

What I could not do in my attendance at the first ICTR conference was use web-space to support the flow of

ideas. Today's web-based keynote was produced as a multi-media account that you can access from

http://www.jackwhitehead.com/ictr05/jwkeyictr05.htm and I am hoping that my face-to-face presentation is sufficiently stimulating to motivate you to browse through the links to the additional resources that are flowing through web-space.

 

My intention here is to focus on the evidence that shows the educational influence of the living educational theories of teacher-researchers in our own learning, in the learning of our students and in the education of social formations. All the evidence I will be showing you is already flowing through web-space in the form of the narratives of learning of teacher-researchers who have created their own living educational theories in their enquiries of the kind, 'How do I improve what I am doing?' You can access this evidence of the explanatory power of these theories at http://www.bath.ac.uk/~edsajw/living.shtml  and perhaps bear MacIntyre's point in mind that the:

 

Rival claims to truth of contending traditions of enquiry owe their vindication to the adequacy and explanatory power of the histories which the resources of each of those traditions in conflict enable their adherents to write (MacIntyre, 1988)

 

In judging the validity of any explanation it is important to understand what counts as the appropriate standards of judgement. Any teacher-researcher community that is seeking to contribute to educational knowledge, needs to develop some intersubjective agreement about the nature of educational standards of judgement (Whitehead, 2004a). Hence I want to begin by showing you some living standards of judgement that have emerged from the embodied values of humanity of practitioner-researchers. I then want to consider some methodological issues concerned with including I' as a living contradiction in educational enquiries, with using action reflection cycles in the clarification of the meanings of our embodied values and with the creation and sharing of our living educational theories.

 

1) Extending the educational influence of our teacher-researcher quests in our learning about values of humanity. Some methodological issues – living contradictions, action-reflection cycles and living educational theories

 

My purpose here is to demonstrate the possibility that living standards of judgement can be formed by clarifying the meanings of embodied values in the course of their emergence in teacher-researcher quests. I am thinking here of Jackie Delong's pleasure in her productive life in education. I am thinking of Erica Holley's valuing the particular life and being of her pupils through the humility in her enquiry learning with students. I am thinking of Moira Laidlaw's loving flow-form of life affirming energy. I am thinking of Marian Naidoo's and Judy McBride's (2004) passion for compassion. As I distinguish these values in the educational relationships of these educators I want to emphasise that each value is only one of the constellation of values and understandings that help to constitute each unique personality and I am not seeking to speak on their behalf. I am seeking to show how such values of humanity are influencing my understanding of living standards of judgement.

 

A)   The pleasure of a productive life with Jackie Delong

 

One value I share with Jackie Delong is the pleasure of living a productive life. The following clip was made at ICTR in 2001 with an international panel responding to questions about teacher-research. It shows part of Jackie Delong's response to a question about sustaining teacher-research in the Grand Erie District Board. I am in agreement with Jackie that she is expressing the pleasure of being affirmed in her productive life in education.

 

 

 

 

I am taking the expression of such pleasure as being of ontological significance in the meanings and purpose we give to our existence (see Note 1).

 

http://www.jackwhitehead.com/ictr05/jdictr4b01.mov

 

 

B)   Erica Holley's valuing of the life and particular being of her students in her humility as an educator in enquiry learning.

 

Erica Holley (1997) clarified the meanings of her embodied values through her enquiry as a teacher researcher: 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?  (http://www.bath.ac.uk/~edsajw/erica.shtml

 

The section of the thesis I want to concentrate on is from Chapter Four:

 

I can speak for myself. My account of working with Poppy and how I struggled to come to terms with what I saw as academic accounts of teaching.

http://www.bath.ac.uk/~edsajw/Erica/4.pdf

 

In Appendix 1 of this web-based keynote you will find Erica's analysis of her educational relationship and influence with her student, Poppy, in her learning over several months. I just want to draw attention to the following point in which Erica is writing about her interactions with Poppy and Poppy acknowledges herself as a writer. Erica is showing a concern for the life and particular being of her pupil in responding to her particular needs:

 

"My work continued with Poppy over the year and she went on to produce a number of pieces of writing of her own, not connected to school work. She kept a notebook for her own writing although she sometimes found getting started difficult. She rejected my ideas of keeping a journal or writing letters but realized that her way of thinking of ideas and then not following them up didn't work either. We talked about the problem:

Erica: Put it this way, as if you were a musician, is it because you're trying to write a symphony before you write a line of music?

Poppy: ( laughs) yes!

Erica: So as a writer before you write your grand piece you've got to write a paragraph. A line, half a page.

Poppy: I've never worked like that before.

Erica: Why  not try it?

Poppy: Yes.

She produced her notebook in the following week with a number of small extracts in it such as this on "I feel like writing about clouds and although this may sound harsh I always marvel at how people see them as a romantic escape ( or an escape for their romance?) The shapes they see in them, the poems written about these collections of gaseous water molecules...." Most of the extracts were like this but the last phrase written in brackets was delightful. It was " I think I'll re-title this to I am a writer'...

 

I had learned something about my role as a teacher as I had to re-evaluate how and why I intervene in a pupil's work. I learned about the way Poppy went about writing and that could inform my work to improve the quality of writing in the classroom. Poppy had changed the way she went about writing and had become more confident to make her own judgments and decisions about her writing." (Appendix 1)

 

As I read Holley's account of her educational relationship with Poppy, Martin Buber's analysis of the importance of the special humility of the educator in the relation in education, seems appropriate.

 

If this educator should ever believe that for the sake of education she has to practise selection and arrangement, then she will be guided by another criterion than that of inclination, however legitimate this may be in its own sphere; she will be guided by the recognition of values which is in her glance as an educator. But even then her selection remains suspended, under constant correction by the special humility of the educator who whom the life and particular being of all her pupils is the decisive factor to which her 'hierarchical' recognition is subordinated. (note - I have changed the gender in Buber's original quote because I am using the idea in relation to Erica Holley)  (Buber, p. 122, 1947)

 

C)   A loving flow-form of life-affirming energy with Moira Laidlaw

 

A value which seems to find some sustained expression in every culture is love. In seeking intersubjective agreement about the meaning of love in educational relationships I am thinking of love as a flowing form of life-affirming energy. I am thinking of a 'loving flow-form of life-affirming energy in educational relationships'

 

The following image and Moira's comments may support the development of our intersubjective agreement of inclusional meanings of loving flows of life-affirming energy.

 


 

 


 Mother and Child in Xi'an, August 2001.

 

 

This is a picture I took just after I arrived in China. I think it's lovely. I don't know the woman or the child, but asked if I could take the boy's photograph. The delight on both faces for me embodies those qualities of love and life-affirming spirit I want to see more of in the world. The way the mother pushes the child forward - his confidence and delight, her pride and pleasure in how lovely he is. Well, that's how I see it anyway. Isn't it just gorgeous!

 

Evidence for my belief that it is possible to reach an intersubjective agreement on the meaning of such a living standard of educational judgement is provided by the agreement between Moira Laidlaw and me that the relational flows of meaning in the video clip below, from which the following still image was taken, can be described through our agreed ostensive definition as a loving flow-form of life-affirming energy in educational relationships:

 

 

 

 

More still images from the classroom with Moira Laidlaw at Guyuan Teachers College in China on the 15 October 2004 can be seen at:

 

http://www.jackwhitehead.com/moira151004/moira151004.html

 

The following 9 MB video clip will take several minutes to download using Broadband (10 minutes on my system) and opens in Quicktime.

 

http://www.jackwhitehead.com/mlendSorenson.mov

 

 I am fascinated by the question of whether it is possible and desirable to extend this agreement, between Moira and me, with your agreement, that as we watch the video-clip  we-i are experiencing a loving flow-form of life-affirming energy in the channels of space and dynamic boundaries of the educational relationships. So, one of the tests of validity of my belief that it will be possible to enhance such loving flows of life-affirming energy within our social contexts and educational relationships, rests on this meaning resonating with your own, first through the uniqueness of our intuitive responses and then into the explicit cognitions of our shared language.

 

D) Marian Naidoo's and Judy McBride's Passions for Compassion

 

 Marian Naidoo is in the final phase of her writing for the submission of her doctoral thesis on

'I am because we are. How can I improve my practice? The emergence of a living theory of responsive

practice.'  In an educational conversation in Bath on the 4th April 2005 Marian presented a draft of her 'framing' for her thesis in which she explains the process of methodological inventiveness through which she clarifies her meanings of passion for compassion (http://www.bath.ac.uk/~edsajw/mnch1.htm). Because of the significance of living passion for compassion for the future of humanity, I do urge you to access Marian's enquiry. I also learnt much about the expression of a passion for compassion from Judy McBride in 1999 when tutoring the masters unit I mentioned at the beginning on action research approaches to educational leadership. Judy is an artist as well as an educator and in a brilliant account of her educational responses to a pupils who was bullying another pupil, showed how she retained her values of humanity in the educational relationship in responding to bullying behaviour that violated her values of humanity (McBride 2004). Judy showed me the educational value of expressing her values through the expressive art of drawing a portrait. Through drawing a portrait of the person who had bullied with her humanising gaze, Judy retained an inclusional connection with the humanity of the other. I know that I find it difficult to transform my anger, if I experience any kind of abuse, into a creative, rather than a purely aggressive response to the abuser. Judy's passion for compassion helped me to understand a way in which I could transform the destructive anger in my response into a creative process of learning. You might want to see how I did this within a multi-media performance text that shows such a response in relation to my persistence in the face of pressure that could have constrained my academic freedom within my workplace. You can access this from the March 2005 Newsletter of the AERA Action Research SIG where I present my living educational theory at:

http://coe.westga.edu/arsig/PDFs/ARNewsletter_V5_I2.pdf

 

I am in little doubt that if we could find ways of enhancing the flows of such life-affirming energies and values of humanity in the education of our social formations the world would be a better place to be. By starting with the flow of these energies, values and intersubjective agreements through space,  through web-space, I want to emphasise that I am working with the inclusional perspective of Alan Rayner, my colleague and friend at the University of Bath.  Inclusionality is understood as a form of awareness of space and boundaries that are connective, reflexive and co-creative (Rayner, 2005). By this I mean that I see the expression above of the embodied values of pleasure, humility, love and life affirming energy as inclusional values. I now want to draw on the methodologies and living educational theories of teacher researchers to answer the question of how we can improve the educational influences of our teacher-researcher quests. I am drawing my evidence from the living theory doctoral theses and masters dissertations and units at:

 

http://www.bath.ac.uk/~edsajw/living.shtml

 

and at:

 

http://www.bath.ac.uk/~edsajw/mastermod.shtml

 

The validation and legitimation of such values-based, living standards of judgement in the claims by teacher-researchers to be improving their educational influence, raises several methodological issues.

 

Methodological issues in improving our educational influence.

 

i) Living contradictions and action reflection cycles.

 

The first methodological point I want to make about how we can improve our educational influence is focused on our own learning from educational enquiries of the kind 'How do I improve what I am doing?' I believe that everyone here has asked themselves this kind of question when you feel that you are not living your values as fully as you believe you could do in helping someone to improve their learning. I refer to the experience of the tension of holding values at the same time as feeling that they are denied as existing as a living contradiction. In saying that 'I' exists as a living contradiction in the question, 'How do I improve what I am doing?' I am not meaning that we are consciously doing something that we do not believe in ie, being hypocritical. In my experience when an individual educator recognises such a living contradiction, the imagination begins to work on ways of improving matters so that the values that are being denied can be lived more fully in practice. I am offering for your social validation my research-based belief that we will recognize ourselves as expressing concern when our values are not being lived as fully as we believe they could be. Our imaginations work on ways of improving matters in the construction of an action plan. We act and gather data on which to make a judgement of the effectiveness of our actions in living our values more fully. We evaluate our actions. We modify our concerns, ideas and actions in the light of our evaluations. This is an action enquiry approach to improving learning that I believe you will recognize in your own learning as you seek to live your values of humanity more fully in what you do.

 

The second methodological point I want to make concerns the nature of teacher-research as a systematic form of enquiry in which we make public, accounts of our educational influence in our own learning and the learning of our students. We may also include within these accounts our educational influence in the education of the social formations in which we are living and working. The latter is significant in extending our educational influence beyond our classrooms into our wider social contexts. While we can engage in a systematic form of action learning, in order to transform our activity into research we must fulfill the requirement of making public the accounts of our learning. This enables others to test the validity of our contributions to the knowledge-base of education and also to learn from them.

 

ii Living educational theories

 

My next point concerns the nature of the accounts of our educational influences in our learning. Having just spent the week at the American Educational Research Association stressing the significance of the generation and testing of living educational theories for the knowledge-base of education (Delong, Black & Whitehead, 2005; Whitehead & McNiff, 2005), I want to see if I can captivate your imaginations with the idea of your living educational theory. I see your accounts of your learning, to the extent that they are explaining your educational influence in this learning, as constituting your own living educational theory. At this point I want to stress the importance of a distinction I make in my research between education theory and educational theory. I see education theory as being constituted by the theories of education produced by philosophers, sociologists, psychologists, historians, economists, management theorists, leadership theorists and theologians of education. I see living educational theories as being constituted by the explanations that practitioner-researchers produce for their educational influence in their own learning, in the learning of others and in the education of social formations.

 

So, I am focusing on the significance of a living educational theory approach to action research for improving our educational influence. My case so far rests on the development, by ourselves as teacher-researchers, of an understanding of a living educational theory approach to action research in producing explanations of our educational influence in our own learning. However, as professional educators our primary responsibility is to the education of our students and I now want to make a case for extending our educational influence by encouraging our students to develop their own living educational theories of their own learning.

 

2) Extending our educational influence by encouraging our students to develop their own living educational theories of their own learning.

 

Teacher-researchers in Higher Education already have a strong evidential base that shows their educational influence in the learning of students as they create their own living educational theories. I am thinking here of students supervised by Margaret Farren at Dublin City University and I do recommend Margaret's web site to you at http://webpages.dcu.ie/~farrenm/ . Clicking on the Educators section at http://webpages.dcu.ie/~farrenm/currentwork.html brings you to the Dissertations section at http://webpages.dcu.ie/~farrenm/dissertations.html where you will find examples of living educational theory theses.  Those colleagues who wish to see such accounts of educational influence in learning, legitimated in their own Universities, may find inspiration as I do, from this demonstrate of what is possible on Margaret Farren's web-site. While showing the influence of living educational theories in her own learning and educational practices Farren shows the generative and transformatory power of her own originality of mind and critical judgement in developing the idea of a pedagogy of the unique.

 

I am thinking of Jean McNiff's supervision of the living theory theses in the UK and Ireland that you can access at http://www.jeanmcniff.com/reports.html . Jean has had the most significant global influence in the creation and testing of living educational theories and been the major motivating influence in spreading ideas through publication (McNiff, 2005; McNiff & Whitehead, 2005; McNiff, Lomax and Whitehead, 2003).  I am also thinking of the work of Moira Laidlaw and her colleagues in China's Experimental Centre for Educational Action Research in Foreign Languages Teaching at http://www.bath.ac.uk/~edsajw/moira.shtml , where Jean and I are visiting professors. The significance of the work of Moira Laidlaw and her colleagues Dean Tian Fengjun and Li Peidong is that they can demonstrate what can be achieved in developing a collaborative living educational theory approach to teacher education from the genesis of the approach in a particular context (Tian, 2005; Tian & Laidlaw, 2005) that is not requiring the production of the living theory accounts as part of an accredited masters programme. Similarly the impressive evidence of the influence of the development of a culture of inquiry (Black, 2005; Delong,2002) in the Grand Erie District School Board provided in the four volumes of Passion in Professional Practice, is mainly provided by teacher-researchers who are not working for accreditation, while some of the accounts are provided by teacher-researchers in the post-masters and post-doctoral phases of their research. These accounts can be accessed by clicking on the 'passion' menu bar when you enter the Grand Erie action research site  at:

 

http://www.actionresearch.ca/

 

Teacher-researchers working in schools and in particular in early years education face a much more difficult task in extending the educational influence of teacher-research through the living educational theories produced by their students. The possibility of younger pupils developing their own living educational theories of their educational influence in their own learning has been demonstrated by Laidlaw in her research with her Year 8 pupils as a teacher at a secondary school in Bath. By initiating the formation of learning partnerships and introducing the language and idea of educational standards of judgement and evidence of learning, Laidlaw  (2001) has demonstrated with her pupils that the pupils could produce evidence-based accounts of their learning as part of the pupils' educational influence in their own learning.

 

http://www.bath.ac.uk/~edsajw/values/ml8s.pdf

 

My hope that a living educational theory approach can be extended to early years education is grounded in the pioneering work in Health Visiting by Robyn Pound (2003) in her doctoral thesis on How can I improve my health visiting support of parenting? The creation of an alongside epistemology through action enquiry. (http://www.bath.ac.uk/~edsajw/pound.shtml )

 

Working inclusionally with parents and very young children, Pound shows that it is possible to develop living educational theories of well-being with parents and children.

 

I do not want to give the impression that I believe that education only takes place within schools, colleges, universities and families. In my experience much education takes place in life-long learning in relationships

in different workplaces and communities. Geoff Mead, Jacqui Scholes-Rhodes, Paul Roberts and Madeline Church have all explained their educational influences in their own learning in the different social contexts of their life long learning, while gaining academic recognition for their knowledge-creation within a University for their doctorates:

 

Geoff Mead's Ph.D. (2001) - Unlatching the Gate: Realising my Scholarship of Living Inquiry.

http://www.bath.ac.uk/~edsajw/mead.shtml

 

 Jacqui Scholes-Rhodes' Ph.D. (2002)- From the Inside Out: Learning to presence my aesthetic and spiritual being through the emergent form of a creative art of inquiry.

http://www.bath.ac.uk/~edsajw/rhodes.shtml

 

Paul Robert's Ph.D. (2003)- Emerging Selves in Practice: How do I and others create my practice and how does my practice shape me and influence others?

http://www.bath.ac.uk/~edsajw/roberts.shtml

 

Madeline Church's Ph.D. (2004)- Creating an uncompromised place to belong: Why do I find myself in networks?  

http://www.bath.ac.uk/~edsajw/church.shtml

 

Providing this evidence, that demonstrates the possibility of extending the educational influence of our teacher-researcher quests through the creation of living educational theories, brings me to the last point in this keynote. I am thinking of the idea of making the possible, probable. This idea of making the possible probable, comes from Joan Whitehead's Keynote address to the Standing Committee for the Education and Training of Teachers Annual Conference 3rd-4th October 2003, Dunchurch, UK on The Future of Teaching and Teaching in the Future: a vision of the future of the profession of teaching - Making the Possible Probable. (http://www.bath.ac.uk/~edsajw/evol/joanw_files/joanw.htm )

 

A continuous creative tension I experience is related to different approaches and theoretical perspectives in showing that something is possible and then in showing that this possibility can be extended into the probable. Demonstrating possibilities in practice has focused on the genesis of good ideas in the creation of living educational theories by individuals working in particular contexts. These possibilities have included demonstrations that the embodied knowledges of living contradictions can be legitimated in the Academy. The possibilities have also included demonstrations of the dialogical and dialectical processes of forming living epistemological standards of judgement as the meanings of embodied values are clarified in the course of their emergence in practice. I now want to address making the possible probable through educating social formations with living educational theories.

 

3) Making the possible probable through extending the educational influence of our living educational theories in the education of social formations.

 

What I mean by the education of a social formation is a social formation's learning to live values that carry hope for the future of humanity more fully in the rules and processes that govern its social organisation. In the creation of living educational theories of learning in social formations I advocate an engagement with insights from socio cultural and cultural historical activity theory (Ryder, 2005a, 2005b, De Valenzuela, 2003, Popova and Daniels, 2004). I advocate this engagement because we live connected in space (Rayner, 2005) and in our social relations in ways that influence our learning. There is much to learn about these influences from sociocultural and cultural historical activity theory. This has been recognised in the University of Bath in a proposal to establish a Centre for Sociocultural and Activity Theory Research with Professor Harry Daniels as its first Director. Here is an example of what I am meaning by the education of a social formation.

Consider the academic freedom to question academic judgements. I imagine that you, like me, would like to see this freedom to question protected within the organizations in which we live and work. It may surprise you that until 1991 my own University (along with many others) explicitly refused to permit such questioning of the examiners' judgements of research degrees 'under any circumstances'. In 1991 the regulations governing the social formation of the University of Bath were changed to allow questions to be raised on the grounds of bias, prejudice and inadequate assessment. The pressure to change University regulations in this way was linked to human rights legislation and appears to be consistent with Habermas' proceduralist concept of law. According to Habermas' conception, the democratic process must secure private and public autonomy at the same time. The private autonomy of equally entitled citizens can only be secured only insofar as citizens actively exercise their civic autonomy (Habermas p.264, 2002).

 

I am connecting the idea of educating social formations with Judi Marshall's ideas on living life as inquiry (Marshall, 2002, http://www.bath.ac.uk/carpp/judimarshall/LivingLifeasInquiry.pdf)

 

with living systemic thinking (Marshall, 2004, http://www.bath.ac.uk/carpp/judimarshall/LivingSystemicThinking.pdf)

 

and with Peter Reason's (2002) ideas on cooperative enquiry (http://www.bath.ac.uk/carpp/SPAR/Contents.htm). 

 

I see these connections in seeking to contribute to the education of social formations through supporting the creation of collaborative living educational theories as visiting professor in China's Experimental Centre for Educational Action Research in Foreign Languages Teaching (Tian & Laidlaw, 2005) and by supporting the living of lives of enquiry that engage with living systemic thinking. 

 

In connecting these ideas in educating social formations with living educational theories, I am mindful of Susan Noffke's 1997 criticism that a living educational theory approach has a sense of agency built on ideas of society as a collection of autonomous individuals. In Noffke's view this appears to make a living educational theory approach 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 ( Noffke, p. 329, 1997).

 

In our paper to AERA last week (Whitehead & McNiff, 2005), Jean McNiff and I are clearly in agreement with Noffke that a process of personal transformation through the examination of practice and self-reflection may be a necessary part of social change in education. We also agree that it is not sufficient. However our view of society is different to the one Noffke attributes to us. We wish to stress that we do not see society as a collection of autonomous individuals. We also acknowledge that there could be a lack of clarity in our earlier writings which could lead to Noffke's interpretation. Here is what we say about the education of social formations to clarify and emphasize our point that we do not see society as a collection of autonomous individuals:

 

"In developing our living educational theories as explanations of our educational influences in the education of social formations we draw ideas from two social theorists who have analysed social formations. From Bourdieu we understand the idea of the power of the habitus in analysing social formations:

 

"... social science makes greatest use of the language of rules precisely in the cases where it is most totally inadequate, that is, in analysing social formations in which, because of the constancy of the objective conditions over time, rules have a particularly small part to play in the determination of practices, which is largely entrusted to the automatisms of the habitus."

(Bourdieu, p. 145, 1990)

 

For Bourdieu the habitus is embodied history. It is internalized as a second nature and so forgotten as history and is the active presence of the whole past of which it is the product. The habitus  is what gives practices their relative autonomy with respect to external determinations of the immediate present.  Bourdieu says that this autonomy is that of the past, enacted and acting, which functioning as accumulated capital, produces history on the basis of history. Producing history on the basis of history acts to support social reproduction rathen than social transformation. The habitus ensures the permanence in change which makes the individual agent a world within the world. For Bourdieu the habitusis a spontaneity without consciousness or will, opposed as much to the mechanical necessity of things without history in mechanistic theories as it is to the reflexive freedom of subjects 'without inertia' in rationalist theories. (Bourdieu, p. 56, 1990)

 

The academic habitus we inhabit supports the truth of power of Aristotlean Logic, or as Marcuse describes it, the logic of domination (Marcuse, p.105, 1964). When we write about our educational influence in the education of social formations we are referring to our influence in the pedagogisation of living educational theories in higher education as we seek to validate, legimate and pedagogise living logics and living values-based standards of judgement in the Academy. We have drawn this idea of pedagogisation from Bernstein's analysis of the importance of pedagogy in his work on pedagogy, symbolic control and identity:

 

Pedagogy is a sustained process whereby somebody(s) acquires new forms or develops existing forms of conduct, knowledge, practice and criteria from somebody(s) or something deemed to be an appropriate provider and evaluator - appropriate either from the point of view of the acquirer or by some other body(s) or both (Bernstein, p.78, 2000).

 

When Bernstein writes about pedagogy he refers to pedagogic relations that shape pedagogic communications and their relevant contexts. He distinguishes three basic forms of pedagogic relation, explicit, implicit and tacit. We focus on explicit pedagogic relations where we have a purposeful intention to initiate, modify, develop or change knowledge and where those in an educational relationship with us define the relation as legitimate (p.200). By this we mean that the explicit educational intention in our pedagogic relations is to support the generation of testing of the living educational theories of other practitioner-researchers as well as of each other." (Whitehead & McNiff, 2005). Two further ideas of Bernstein on pedagogic device and mythological discourse can also be useful in connecting power and living educational theory.

 

For Bernstein the pedagogic device is a symbolic ruler, ruling consciousness, in the sense of having power over it, and ruling, in the sense of measuring the legitimacy of the realisations of consciousness. He asks whose ruler, what consciousness? He believes that there is always a struggle between social groups for ownership of the device saying that those who own the device own the means of perpetuating their power through discursive means and establishing, or attempting to establish, their own ideological representations (Bernstein, p. 114, 2000).

 

So, in validating and legitimating a living educational theory approach to the education of social formations, we can expect to engage in a struggle to establish this approach in contexts which have yet to acknowledge the importance of ascending from the abstract to the concrete (Ilyenkov, 1977, 1982) in understandings of educational transformation. In supporting such transformations through living educational theory it could be wise to bear in mind Bernstein's point about the dangers of creating what he calls mythological discourses. By this he means that a school disconnects the hierarchy of success internal to the school from social class hierarchies external to the school. He believes that conflict, or potential conflict, between  social groups may be reduced or contained by creating a discourse which emphasises what all groups share, their communality, their apparent  interdependence (Bernstein, p. xxiii, 2000). I could be seen to be doing this in seeking to establish intersubjective agreement in relation to values of humanity. What I want to avoid in doing this is a disconnection from an engagement with social hierarchies outside this room that serve to reproduce inequalities in the existing social order.

 

In my intention to avoid such mythological discourse, in the development of living educational theories in the education of social formations, I am mindful of the contemporary debate between Aaron Schutz (2004, 2005) and Samantha Caughlan (2005) in Educational Researcher that is focused on Foucault's analysis of power relations and postmodernism.

 

Valuing as I do, Lyotard's insight from his work on postmodernism and knowledge:

 

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 agree with Schutz about the importance of showing that for particular purposes, in particular contexts, relatively simple descriptions of how power operates may illuminate crucial aspects of how oppression operates in the modern world, insights that may actually be obscured by the more nuanced analyses that postmodernists often insist on (Schutz, p. 18, 2005; Hill, et.al. 2002). Hence, the importance I attach to explicitly addressing issues of power and privilege in society in our validation, legitimation and pedagogisation of living educational theories in the Academy, as a contribution to the education of social formations. Consider for example the first doctoral thesis to be examined under new regulations of the University of Bath in 2004 that permitted the submission of e-media in research degrees.  I see such a change in regulation as another example of the education of a social formation because it permits the submission of multi-media narratives that can communicate the process of transforming the kind of embodied values we looked at earlier in the video-clips, into living standards of judgement. Mary Hartog's thesis 'A self study of a higher education tutor: how can I improve my practice?' was the first thesis, under the new regulations, to submit a visual narrative and analysis of educational relationships. Her explanation of learning connects, in the visual narrative, ostensive definitions of loving and life-affirming educative relations with lexical definitions in the transformation of her embodied values into living epistemological standards of judgement:

 

Evidence is drawn from life-story work, narrative accounting, student assignments, audio and video taped sessions of teaching and learning situations, the latter of which include edited CD-R files. These clips offer a glimpse of my embodied claims to know what the creation of loving and life-affirming educative relations involves. (Hartog, 2004, http://www.bath.ac.uk/~edsajw/hartog.shtml)

 

The chapter on Women's Ways of Knowing (http://www.bath.ac.uk/~edsajw/hartog.shtml ) explicitly addresses issues of power and privilege encountered by a woman academic in gaining recognition for her contributions to educational knowledge in the Academy. When I say 'addresses issues of power and privilege' I am not meaning from the positions of a 'spectator' researcher and theorist or a propositional theorist of the kind described by Burke:

 

Existentialists such as Gabriel Marcel (cf. Keen, 1966) distinguish between "spectator" truth and "living" truth.  The former is generated by disciplines (e.g., experimental science, psychology, sociology) which rationalise reality and impose on it a framework which helps them to understand it but at the expense of oversimplifying it.  Such general explanations can be achieved only by standing back from and "spectating" the human condition from a distance, as it were, and by concentrating on generalities and ignoring particularities which do not fit the picture.  Whilst such a process is very valuable, it is also very limited because it is one step removed from reality.  The "living" "authentic" truth of a situation can be fully understood only from within the situation though the picture that emerges will never be as clear-cut as that provided by "spectator" truth." (Burke, p.222, 1992).

 

I am meaning from the living perspective of a self-study reseacher who is creating and testing her own living educational theory in the actual engagements with power of privilege in society. A similar process of validation, legitimation and pedagogisation of living educational theories in the education of social formations can be seen in the work of Margaret Farren at Dublin City University. If you enter Margaret Farren's website at http://webpages.dcu.ie/~farrenm/, clicking on the Educators section at http://webpages.dcu.ie/~farrenm/currentwork.html

brings you to the Dissertations section at http://webpages.dcu.ie/~farrenm/dissertations.html

where you will find examples of living educational theory theses, supervised by Farren and legitimated by Dublin City University.  Those colleagues in Higher Education who wish to see such accounts of educational influence in learning, legitimated in their own Universities, may find inspiration as I do, from this demonstration of what is possible.  In demonstrating her own originality of mind, Farren also shows our educational influence and in turn influences our own learning with her idea of the significance of the development of our pedagogies of the unique.

 

In justifying to myself my case about the significance of living educational theories in the education of social formations I draw insights from the ideas of many others in a way that I hope shows my respect for traditional forms of scholarship. I have included an example of such an engagement with the ideas of others in Appendix 3. Because of the importance of socio-historical and socio-cultural theories in the genesis and testing of my living educational theories I just want to acknowledge insights from the work of Said, Bakhtin and Sen that I have integrated within my own learning. From Said I have learnt to use two meanings of culture. The  first relates culture to pleasure and 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. In the second view Said believes that culture is a concept that includes a refining and elevating element, each society's reservoir of the best that has been known and thought. In this second view Said says that culture comes to be associated, often aggressively, with the nation or 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). 

 

I associate the first view of culture with the idea of creating a culture of inquiry with pleasure, with Jackie Delong's doctoral thesis and with the first video-clip. I associate the second view with the importance of making explicit the cultural norms in ones living theory so that these can be scrutinised for their colonial and postcolonial implications of living values of social justice as fully as possible (Murray, 2004, 2005). I think both are important in the move to support the establishment of action research cultures around the world by the Special Interest Group of AERA. As part of this movement I am delighted to see Professor Kei Sawamoto from Japan's Women's University in the audience and to have read her contribution "How are we supporting the activation of Konaiken in the development of a culture of enquiry with living educational theories?" (Sawamoto, Delong & Whitehead, 2005) to the conference. Je Kan Adler-Collins working in Fukoaka University in Japan is also part of this movement. He is working to create an e-journal on living action research and educational theory in support of this movement (Adler-Collins, 2004, 2005)

 

Issues of life and death, as well as justice, are vital components of our social formations as we have seen in the global responses to the Tsunami of the 26th December 2004 and the responses to the death of Pope John Paul II on the 2 April 2005. I like Alan Rayner's (2003) point that it is better to feed life with death rather than death with life. From Bakhtin I take the following ideas on 'I', death and responsibility. I agree with Bakhtin about the importance of stories in making values coherent and that the only way I know of my birth is through accounts I have of it from others. I agree that 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. I also agree that 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.  (Holquist, p.37, 1990)

 

" "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, nor 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 and Emerson, p. 13, 1989)

 

In  thinking about our living standards in relation to our radically singular, responsible and inclusional actions it would be a major omission not to recognize the contribution of living educational theories to economic development. In Appendix 3 I have included a more detailed examination of my awareness of the political economic, cultural and educational assumptions in my educational influence in my learning. These assumptions include an acceptance of ideas from Amartya Sen's economic theory of human capability.

 

Sen believes that despite the usefulness of the concept of human capital, it is important to see human beings in a broader perspective by going beyond  the notion of human capital, after acknowledging its relevance and reach. He stresses that the broadening that is needed is additional and inclusive, rather than, in any sense, an alternative  to the "human capital" perspective.

 

In looking for a fuller understanding of the role of human capabilities, Sen says that we have to take note of:

 

i) their direct relevance to the well-being and freedom of people;

 

ii) their indirect role through influencing  social change; and

 

iii) their indirect role through influencing  economic production. (Sen, 1999, p. 296)

 

He believes that the relevance of the capability perspective incorporates each of these contributions and says that in contrast, in the standard literature, human capital is seen primarily in terms of the third of the three roles. Even with their clear overlap of coverage he claims there is a strong need to go well beyond that rather limited and circumscribed role of human capital in understanding development as freedom. 

 

In using my energy to support the inclusional flow through web-space of living educational theories of educational influences in learning, from such radically singular and responsible actions as those described by Bakhtin, and connecting with the well-being and freedom in economic development described by Sen,  I am not denying the importance of activities in traditional policy arenas and in traditional scholarship in the education of social formations. Nor am I downplaying the importance of the economic in the development of living standards. The implications of this keynote for all our lives is that we cannot avoid, even if we wish to, our connections with the habitus and economic and political rules that influence the governing of our social order. So, the implications for all those who wish to engage in the education of social formations, is that we should at least consider the possibility that generating and testing our own living educational theories, of our educational influence in our own learning, the learning of others and in the learning of social formations, might enhance our effectiveness. I am thinking of effectiveness in terms of enhancing the flow of values and understandings that carry hope for the future of humanity and our own.

 

Conclusion

 

This multi-media keynote is already flowing through web-space. Teacher-researchers in China, Japan, India, North America, Europe and other countries have already accessed previous drafts and helped me to strengthen it through their responses. These connections help to emphasize the international nature of our teacher-researcher conference and the significance of enhancing our educational influence through sharing each others' accounts of our learning.

 

In offering an answer to the topic of this keynote I have sought to connect 'I' with 'We' in teacher-researcher quests that include both acting locally and publishing globally. I think that I can safely say, without fear of contradiction, that the learning of increasing numbers of people is being influenced through the e-media that are available through global web-space. I am saying this to emphasise the influences in learning of the flow of communications through the web-space that connects us with each other. However, I know that not all learning is educational. We can look at many learnt behaviours around the world, related to war, poverty and abuse and other activities that violate values of humanity, and see that they are not contributing to the learning that carries hope for the future of humanity. I distinguish this latter kind of learning, the learning that carries such hope, as education. I began by saying that I hoped that you would feel, through this keynote, the flow of the values of humanity that Fran Halliday expressed in her support for teacher-research. As we share the accounts of our teacher-research at this our 12th international conference I see the spreading influence of these values and understandings around the world. I hope that this keynote, flowing through web-space, may serve as a contribution to enhancing the continuing flow of those values that Fran Halliday lived and carried her hope for the future of humanity and our own. I am most grateful to the organizers of ICTR 2005, for enabling me to share these ideas with you in Montreal. I am now looking forward to the rest of the day in which we can share insights from each others' educational enquiries and learn more about each other and what we are doing to live our values as fully as we can. Thankyou.

 

References

Adler-Collins, J. (2005)  Living Action Research. Retrieved 5 April 2005 from http://www.living-action-research.net/

Adler-Collins, J. (2004) You are a stranger among us: exclusional and inclusional practice in research communities. Paper presented at the British Educational Research Association Annual Conference, University of Manchester, 16-18 September 2004. Retrieved on 5 April 2005 from Education-line at http://www.leeds.ac.uk/educol/documents/00003810.htm

Burke, A. Teaching: Retrospect and Prospect. Footnote 6 on p. 222,  OIDEAS, Vol. 39, pp. 5-254.

Bernstein, R.  (1971) Praxis and Action. London; Duckworth.

Black, C. (2005) Issues regarding the facilitation of teacher research. Reflective Practice, Vaol. 6, No. 1, pp. 107-122

Buber, M. (1947) Between Man and Man. London; Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner

& Co. Ltd.

Caughlan, S. (2005) Considering Pastoral Power: A commentary on Aaron Schutz's "Rethinking Domination and Resistance: Challenging Postmodernism" Educational Researcher, Vol. 34, No. 2, pp. 14-16.

Delong, J. (2002) How can I improve my practice as a superintendent of schools and create my own living educational theory. Ph.D. Thesis, University of Bath Retrieved 6 April 2005 from http://www.bath.ac.uk/~edsajw/delong.shtml

Delong, J. (2004) Action Research Implemented in The Grand Erie District School Board: Impact on Teacher Development, Improvement and the Support System. Lecture to the Japanese Association of Educators for Human Development on the 29th February 2004. Retrieved 1 April 2005 from http://schools.gedsb.net/ar/articles/japan_march_2004.html

Delong, J., Black, C. & Whitehead, J. (2005) Demographic and Educational Influence of Our Leadership and Administration Practices Using Democratic Accountability An e-poster presentation to the AERA Annual Conference on Demography and Democracy in the Era of Accountability, 12 April 2005, Montreal.

Retrieved on the 10 April 2005 from

http://www.jackwhitehead.com/aera05/jdcbjweposter.htm

De Valenzuela, J. S. (2003) Socio-Cultural Theory. Retrieved on the 7 April 2005 from http://www.unm.edu/%7Edevalenz/handouts/sociocult.html

Habermas, J. (2002) The Inclusion of the Other: Studies in Political

Theory, Oxford; Polity.

Hartog, M. (2004)  A self study of a higher education tutor: how can I improve my practice? Ph.D. Thesis, University of Bath. Retrieved 3 April 2003 from http://www.bath.ac.uk/~edsajw/hartog.shtml

Holquist, D. (1990) Dialogism Bakhtin and his world. London; Routledge.

Hill, D., McLaren, P., Cole, M. & Rikowski, G. (2002) Marxism Against Postmodernism in Educational Theory. London; Lexington Books.

Ilyenkov, E. (1982) The Dialectics of the Abstract and the Concrete in Marx's Capital. Moscow, Progress Publishers.

Ilyenkov, E. (1977) Dialectical Logic. Moscow, Progress Publishers.

Laidlaw, M. (2001) In the last months of my employment at Oldfield School, how can I help 8X to enhance their sense of community, as I assist them in improving the quality of their learning about English? Retrieved 1 April 2004 from http://www.bath.ac.uk/~edsajw/values/ml8s.pdf

Lyotard, F. (1986) The Postmodern Condition: A report on Knowledge. Manchester; Manchester University Press.

Marshall, J. (2004) Living Systemic Thinking. Exploring quality in first-person action research. Action Research. Vol. 2, No. 3, pp. 309-329.

Marshall, J. (1999) Living Life as Inquiry. Systemic Practice and Action Research. Vol. 12, No.2, pp 155-171.

McBride, J. (2004) How do I, a teacher-researcher, contribute to knowledge of teacher learning and practice in teacher education as I explore my values through self-study? Ph.D. submission to McGill University.

McNiff, J. (2005) jeanmcniff.com . Retrieved on 5 April 2005 from http://www.jeanmcniff.com/

McNiff, J., Lomax, P. & Whitehead, J. (2003) You and Your Action Research Project, London; RoutledgeFalmer.

McNiff, J. & Whitehead, J. (2005) Action Research for Teachers, London; David Fulton.

Morson, S. M. & Emerson, C. (1989) Rethinking Bakhtin extensions and challenges.

Evanston; Northwestern University Press

Murray, P. (2004) Speaking in a Chain of Voices ~ crafting a story of how I am contributing to the creation of my postcolonial living educational theory through a self study of my practice as a scholar-educator. Paper presented at the BERA Annual Conference, Manchester  16-18 Sept. 2004. Retrieved on 3 April 2005 from Education-line at http://www.leeds.ac.uk/educol/documents/00003811.htm

Murray, P. (2005) Welcome to my multiracial and inclusive Postcolonial Living Education Theory - practice, research and becoming. Retrieved 3 April 2005 from http://www.royagcol.ac.uk/~paul_murray/Sub_Pages/FurtherInformation.htm

Noffke, S. (1997) Professional, Personal, and Political Dimensions of Action Research in, Apple, M. (Ed.) (1997) Review of Research in Education, Vol. 22, Washington: AERA.

Popova A. & Daniels H. (2004) Employing the concept of the object in the discussion of the links between school pedagogies and individual working lives in pre- and post-Soviet Russia. Educational Review, Vol. 56, No. 2, pp. 193-205

Rayner, A. (2005) Essays and Talks about 'Inclusionality' by Alan Rayner. Retrieved on the 5 April 2005 from http://www.bath.ac.uk/~bssadmr/inclusionality/

Rayner, A. (2003) Sphagnum Moss – a poem. Retrieved 5 April 2005 from http://www.bath.ac.uk/~bssadmr/inclusionality/sphagnummoss.htm

Reason, P. (Ed.) (2002) The Practice of Co-operative Inquiry. Special Issue of Systemic practice and Action Research. Vol. 15, No. 3.

Ryder, M. (2005a) Activity Theory. Retrieved on the 7 April 2005 from http://carbon.cudenver.edu/~mryder/itc_data/activity.html

Ryder, M. (2005b) Socio-Cultural Theory. Retrieved on the 7 April 2005 from http://carbon.cudenver.edu/~mryder/itc_data/activity.html

Schutz. A. (2005) Theory Illuminates (and Conceals): A Response to the Critique by Samantha Caughlan.

Educational Researcher, Vol. 34, No. 2, pp. 17-19.

Schutz, A. (2004) Rethinking Domination and Resistance: Challenging Postmodernism. Educational Researcher, Vol. 33, No.1, pp 15-23.

Said, E. (1993) Culture and Imperialism, London; Vintage. 

Sen, A. (1999) Development as Freedom. Oxford; Oxford University Press.

Tian, F., (2005), 'How can I help my colleagues to become more collaborative in their work

in order to promote educational sustainability?' in (ed.) Tian, F.,  & Laidlaw, M.,(2005), 'Action Research and the New Curriculum in China: Case Studies and Reports in

the Teaching of English,' Beijing Foreign Languages Research Press, Beijing (in press)

Tian, F.,  & Laidlaw, M., (Ed.) (2005), 'Action Research and the New Curriculum in China: Case Studies and Reports in the Teaching of English,' Beijing Foreign Languages Research Press, Beijing (in press)

Whitehead, J. (1989) Creating a living educational theory from questions of the kind, "How do I improve my practice?'. Cambridge Journal of Education, Vol. 19, No.1,1989, pp. 41-52

Whitehead, J. (2004a) What counts as evidence in self-studies of teacher education practices? In Loughran, J. & Russell, T.(eds,) The International Handbook of Self-Study of Teaching Practice. Dordrecht; Kluwer academic publishers

Whitehead, J. (2004b) Do action researchers' expeditions carry hope for the future of humanity? How do we know? An  enquiry into reconstructing educational theory and educating social formations. This was published in the October 2004 issue of the e-Journal Action Research Expeditions (Retrieved 29 March 2005 from http://www.arexpeditions.montana.edu/articleviewer.php?AID=80)

Whitehead, J. (2005) Living Educational Theory. March 2005 Issue of the AERA Action Research SIG Newsletter. (Retrieved 29 March from http://coe.westga.edu/arsig/PDFs/ARNewsletter_V5_I2.pdf )

Whitehead, J. and McNiff (2005) How Do We Explain Our Educational Influence in Living Our Democratic Values? Paper presented to the AERA Annual Conference on Demography and Democracy in the Era of Accountability, 13 April 2005, Montreal. Session 40.041 Action Research in Higher Education. Retrieved on 10 April 2005 from http://www.jackwhitehead.com/aera05/jwjmaera05htm.htm

 

Notes and Quotations

 

1) In Marx's early writings he describes what he means by producing something as a human being

 

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, p. 48, 1971)

 

2)  I asked Branko Bognar (Branko is an educator working and researching in a primary school in Croatia) if he would send me his 'Action research mentoring for supporting professional development of teachers as learners in Croatian educational context.' The account startled me not only because of its quality but also because of the enormous commitment and sustained energy it must have taken to produce it and sustain the educational practices.  You can access Branko's account at:

 

http://www.jackwhitehead.com/branko/bbarincroatia.htm

 

3) "I would like to propose that the trick whereby the school disconnects the hierarchy of success internal to the school from social class hierarchies external to the school is by creating a mythological discourse and that this mythological discourse incorporates some of the political ideology and arrangement of the society.

 

First of all, it is clear that conflict, or potential conflict, between  social groups may be reduced or contained by creating a discourse which emphasises what all groups share, their communality, their apparent  interdependence.

 

By creating a fundamental identity, a discourse is created which generates what I shall call horizontal solidarities among their staff and students, irrespective of the political ideology and social arrangement of the society. The discourse  which produces horizontal solidarities or attempts to produce such solidarities from this point of view I call a mythological discourse. This mythological discourse consists of two pairs of elements which, although having different  functions, combine to reinforce each other. One pair celebrates and attempts to produce a united, integrated, apparently common national consciousness; the other pair work together to disconnect hierarchies within the school from a causal relation with social hierarchies outside the school." (Bernstein, p. xxiii, 2000)

 

I intend to avoid such mythological discourse in developing my account of my own learning to live values of humanity.

 

4) 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)

 

5) "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."  (Holquist, p.37, 1990)

 

" "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, nor 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 and Emerson, p. 13, 1989)

 


 

 

Appendix 1 : Working with Poppy

 

Why Poppy? As someone new to teacher action research I was interested in improving the kind of conversations I had with girls in my classroom. I interviewed a number of girls from the class I knew I was to teach for the following two years. I talked to them about their work and intended to follow up concerns they raised. I tried to build up pictures of them as learners and wanted to find out about what motivated them. When I talked to Poppy I began to understand that her writing was important to her because she became more enthusiastic and talked more personally about it than anything else.

The part of the discussion about her writing went like this:

Erica: Have you got any strengths that I can build on..?

Poppy: Writing.

Erica: Any particular form of writing?

Poppy: Any form. I just love it.

Erica; How do you go about it?

Poppy: Well, I just write it usually. I don't think about it. You're supposed to plan it out but I never do. I always find it goes wrong if I do that.

Erica: Do you draft  out?

Poppy:  No, I don't do that either.

Erica: I see. Right.

Poppy: I usually edit as I go along, which most people seem to find difficult but...

Erica: You find OK?

That conversation in July formed an unwritten agenda for me in my future work with Poppy. I intended to encourage her to think about her writing and to encourage her to draft and re-draft her work because that seemed to be a good thing to do in order to improve her writing.

In our first class I asked all the students to write to me in their journals and to tell me something about the way they worked. Poppy wrote I'm going to be honest and start by writing something which probably won't be to my advantage. I've found that over the third year my best or favourite pieces of work were done under pressure to a deadline. Strangely, this is my favourite way of working, or at least it is with writing. Writing is my strongest aspect of work, but I can only write pieces I'm happy with outside of school. I wish I knew how to organise myself as it's important, but at the moment I don't.

I replied to all the journal entries that night, writing in Poppy's... To set your mind at rest about telling me to put the pressure on - I was intending to do it anyway! I usually set coursework with two deadlines: one for the first draft; and another for the final piece and I expect discussion between the two....

The next day she wrote It's good (dare I say) to hear about the drafts etc because I think the discussion part will help me

So, at the beginning of the autumn term in September, I wanted to understand something about Poppy as a writer as it was obvious that she wanted to understand something about her writing. I wanted to discuss questions like: How did she get her ideas? How did she plan her writing? What did she find difficult? What did she understand by the process of writing? If I could understand those kinds of things then I could find ways of helping her to improve the quality of her written work.

We worked on questions like this for the term and at the end of term in preparing for a student profile Poppy wrote about how she thought her writing had improved Since September I've changed my style in very small ways. I use your criticism constructively now, to improve each piece until I'm happy with it myself...

I draft a lot differently in the way that I feel that I can improve, I think I used to feel that I couldn't improve through criticism.

In September I was lacking in writing confidence. Now I question advice, and use it to fuel my enthusiasm to writing

 

Over that term she had become more confident of her own voice and had come to make demands upon me. Our work had become a genuine enquiry

into ways of improving her writing. When Poppy wrote I think I used to feel that I couldn't improve through criticism.... now I question advice and use it to fuel my enthusiasm to writing  she shows her acceptance of my role as an educator who supports her in improving the quality of her writing. She isn't accepting everything I say but uses what I say to question her own ideas. When I write to her in her journal comments like I'm interested in what you said... Could you explain a bit more?  I show that I am interested in her and her potential to improve as a learner. Questions like that are genuine questions and I was interested in the reply. Our dialogue was supportive and facilitated learning. Poppy had helped me to understand something about herself as a writer and to understand something about myself as an educator.

The day after I'd written to Poppy in her journal I was able to have an extended conversation with her in the classroom about how her writing was going. Through this Poppy helps me to understand something about how she gets ideas and how she wants me to support her in improving her writing. She shows that my comment in her drafting book there seems to be something deeper that's wrong with this ... relationship. Can that be brought out?  affected her thinking because in conversation she says as you said (my story) needed a bigger theme to it

She gave me more clues about her difficulties getting her story  sorted out in her journal where she wrote I find it difficult to get ideas ... I just can't get started. I haven't done enough in class... I replied Can you account for that? Could it be the subject I chose - would it be easier if you chose one yourself?

The day after I'd written to Poppy in her journal I was able to have an extended conversation with her in the classroom about how her writing was going. Through this talk Poppy helps me to understand something about how she gets ideas and how she wants me to support her in improving her writing.

 

Extract Classroom Conversation:

Poppy: I had trouble trying to get ideas for it - usually I just get on with it.

Erica: So why did the plan help you?

Poppy: The brainstorm helped me think of ideas I could use.

Erica: So do you want to talk me through the brainstorm then?

Poppy: Well, I was thinking of ideas, a theme for my story first of all about arguments. I settled on petty little things and like you said afterwards, it needed a bigger theme to it. Why were they arguing all the time? I thought there might have been a death in the family.

Erica: Then you got on to making just some notes

Poppy: Mmm. I changed my ideas completely then – they're still having arguments but I thought of why they could be having arguments.

Erica: So what made you change your ideas?

Poppy: I just got a sudden flash of inspiration, that's all.

Erica: OK....( omission)....... so you've done this draft, this plan, brainstorm. What about the draft? Because in your journal you say at one point  I'm finding it difficult to get ideas for it. I can't get started. I haven't done enough in class. I hope to have more luck at home

Poppy: Yes

And then you said you got inspiration. Do you know where that came from?

Poppy: No-where really. Just all of a sudden I thought of something. I don't know what it was. I might have been talking or something. But I thought about the end because I realised when I was writing that it didn't really end properly. It needed something else so I thought there could be a thinking scene so that it explains a lot why they're arguing.

Erica: What would the thinking be about?

Poppy: She'd be thinking about the brother who would have died, be blaming the mother because her mother doesn't talk about him so that's why they argue.

Erica: Yes. That would make sense wouldn't it? Because the argument that you describe is interesting.

Through the drafting book, journal and conversation I had begun to build up a picture of the way Poppy went about writing. She had written a plan because she'd found it difficult to get started; my comment on the deeper reason for the family conflict had got her to think;  she'd written more notes but what had got her to write was a sudden flash of inspiration. Her inspiration seemed to make me a bit redundant and so I asked her about my role before we finished talking:

 

Erica; What's the most helpful thing I've done with this lot then?

Poppy: Being critical I think but in a constructive way because that's what I need because that makes me think more.

Erica: Do you find it useful to talk about it or do you like the way we use journals or a mixture?

Poppy: A mixture actually. If I'm not clear it would be good to talk about it but otherwise the journal's fine.

What I liked about her comment was that she was making the judgment about what was helpful to her learning. She will decide when she's not clear and then will talk about it. I liked the confidence that showed.

My work continued with Poppy over the year and she went on to produce a number of pieces of writing of her own, not connected to school work. She kept a notebook for her own writing although she sometimes found getting started difficult. She rejected my ideas of keeping a journal or writing letters but realized that her way of thinking of ideas and then not following them up didn't work either. We talked about the problem:

Erica: Put it this way, as if you were a musician, is it because you're trying to write a symphony before you write a line of music?

Poppy: ( laughs) yes!

Erica: So as a writer before you write your grand piece you've got to write a paragraph. A line, half a page.

Poppy: I've never worked like that before.

Erica: Why  not try it?

Poppy: Yes.

She produced her notebook in the following week with a number of small extracts in it such as this on "I feel like writing about clouds and although this may sound harsh I always marvel at how people see them as a romantic escape ( or an escape for their romance?) The shapes they see in them, the poems written about these collections of gaseous water molecules...." Most of the extracts were like this but the last phrase written in brackets was delightful. It was " I think I'll re-title this to 'I am a writer'.

The work that we had engaged in over this time had been collaborative and supportive. I had learned something about my role as a teacher as I had to re-evaluate how and why I intervene in a pupil's work. I learned about the way Poppy went about writing and that could inform my work to improve the quality of writing in the classroom. Poppy had changed the way she went about writing and had become more confident to make her own judgments and decisions about her writing.

The personalised learning agenda that has been set out for schools is challenging for all in education. If we were to embrace it we would accept that all of us have to listen, engage, collaborate, develop and take responsibility for our own learning.

 


 

 

 Appendix 2  Sharing our living educational theories

 

Some of you who have already accessed http://www.bath.ac.uk/~edsajw/living.shtml

may be familiar with the collection of living theories flowing through web-space. Here are some examples to illustrate the evidence I can bring to justify my beliefs about improving our educational influence through our teacher-researcher quests as we create and share our living educational theories.

 

John Loftus – the principal of a primary school has been awarded his doctorate for his: An action research enquiry into the marketing of an established first school in its transition to full primary status http://www.bath.ac.uk/~edsajw/loftus.shtml . John's thesis justifies his claims:

 

Claim Number One. This thesis contributes to the professional knowledge-base of education in a description and explanation of how a headteacher in a newly formed primary school has asked, researched and answered questions of the form 'How can I improve my own leadership and management?'.

 

 Claim Number Two. This thesis makes an original contribution to knowledge in an analysis of the extent to which industrial marketing strategies were effective in the educational context of marketing a primary school.

 

 Claim Number Three. This thesis is an original study of a headteacher in a primary school striving to live his values in his practice so as to maintain his integrity in the light of incessant changing education reforms.

 

Mary Hartog a senior lecturer at Middlesex University in the UK has been awarded her doctorate for her: A self study of a higher education tutor: how can I improve my practice? http://www.bath.ac.uk/~edsajw/hartog.shtml

 

The aim of this thesis is to present a storied account of my inquiry, in which I explore what it means to live my values in practice. Through descriptions and explanations of my practice, this thesis unveils a process of action and reflection, punctuated by moments when I deny or fail to live my values fully in practice, prompting the iterative question 'How do I improve my practice?'; the reflective process enabling me to better understand my practice and test out that understanding with others in the public domain.

 

 My claim to originality is embodied in the aesthetics of my teaching and learning relationships, as I respond to the sources of humanity and educative needs of my students, as I listen to their stories and find an ethic of care in my teaching and learning relationships that contain them in good company and that returns them to their stories as more complete human beings.

 

 Evidence is drawn from life-story work, narrative accounting, student assignments, audio and video taped sessions of teaching and learning situations, the latter of which include edited CD-R files. These clips offer a glimpse of my embodied claims to know what the creation of loving and life-affirming educative relations involves.

 

Andy Larter a teacher at Greendown School in Swindon, UK, has been awarded his research degree (M.Phil) for his: An Action Research Approach to Classroom Discussion in the Examination Years

http://www.bath.ac.uk/~edsajw/andy.shtml

 

 

This dissertation is 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 my own 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 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.


 

Appendix 3  Political, economic, cultural and educational assumptions (notes written for my inaugural address as visiting professor at Guyuan Teacher's Centre, China, October 2004)

 

The political, economic, cultural and educational contexts of the Centre are related dynamically to their connections with China's politics, economics and culture and other international influences. In saying this I am identifying with the five principles of peaceful coexistence for international order identified by Premier Zhou Enlai in 1953 and supported by the present Chinese Government. I am thinking here of the five principles of mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, mutual non-aggression, mutual non-interference in each other's internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit and peaceful coexistence. In 1988, Deng Xiaoping explicitly pointed out that it was imperative to build both a new international economic order and a new international political order, with the aim of putting an end to hegemony and carrying out the five principles of peaceful coexistence (Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2000).

 

As I write these words I am aware of the feeling of being a living contradiction in identifying myself with these principles of international order. As an Englishman, a member of the Labour Party and a Labour voter, I am a living contradiction in the sense of holding these values of international order and at the same time recognising that my government was misled by our Prime Minister Tony Blair, on the 18th March 2003, into believing that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction that threatened Britain.

 

When the inspectors left in 1998, they left unaccounted for: 10,000 litres of anthrax; a far reaching VX nerve agent programme; up to 6,500 chemical munitions; at least 80 tonnes of mustard gas, possibly more than ten times that amount; unquantifiable amounts of sarin, botulinum toxin and a host of other biological poisons; an entire Scud missile programme.

 

 We are now seriously asked to accept that in the last few years, contrary to all history, contrary to all intelligence, he decided unilaterally to destroy the weapons. Such a claim is palpably absurd. (Blair, 2003)

 

The illegal invasion of Iraq was premised on the falsehood of Iraq's possession of Weapons of Mass Destruction that threatened Britain.  The invasion violates the above five principles of international order. I make this point about existing as a living contradiction because of the importance of recognising oneself as such a contradiction in a living educational theory approach to action research. In creating our own living educational theories we offer explanatory accounts of our own learning, of our educational influences with each other, in our students' learning and for our influence in the education of our social formations. I also make this point to emphasise how much I value the academic freedom to voice such criticisms as I demonstrated in The Growth of Educational Knowledge (Whitehead, 1993). I wrote to President Bush and Prime Minister Blair urging them to give the weapons inspectors more time before invading Iraq. This act of writing was insignificant in relation to the power and vested interests mobilised for the invasion. The significance of my experience of this violation in relation to my own educational theorising has been to move me more explicitly towards the development of postcolonial living educational theories (Whitehead, 2004; Murray, 2004) and towards enhancing their influence in the internationalisation of educational development.  

 

In writing this paper I am also taking account of the political, economic, cultural and educational implications of the ideas expressed by Wen Jiabao (2004) in his capacity as Premier of the State Council, at a reception celebrating the 55th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China when he said that China is a developing country with 1.3 billion people and which will remain in the primary stage of socialism for a long time. Wen Jiabao believes that China must follow the path of independently building socialism with Chinese characteristics under the firm leadership of the Chinese Communist Party, basing itself on its own national conditions and getting along with the trends of development in the world. He says that the Communist Party of China is a Marxist party that has weathered numerous tests and kept abreast of the times while enhancing and improving the leadership of the Party is the fundamental guarantee for a successful building of socialism with Chinese characteristics. Here are some extracts from his speech that focus on the political, economic, cultural and educational contexts of China:

 

We must always take economic development as our central task and try to solve the problems we face through development. We need to come up with new ideas on development (p.3)....We must open still wider to the outside world, adapt better to the changing world of economic globalization and technological revolution, and draw on all the useful achievements of human civilizations. A country, or a people, will make progress only when it is an open one (p.4)....We must promote cultural development. Our culture is the symbol of our national spirit. Its power is deeply rooted in our national vitality, creativity and togetherness. We must grasp the trend of advanced culture, vigorously carry forward and promote the national spirit, develop education, science and technology, enhance the moral and ethical building of the population, add new splendor to the Chinese culture, and inspire our people with a powerful motivation and intellectual support as they march into the future. (p. 5).....We must carry out the fight against corruption in a more intensive manner and severely punish those guilty of corruption. We must address both the symptoms and the root causes of corruption, and take a comprehensive approach to prevent the problem from happening (pp.5-6)....We must consolidate and expand the unity of all our ethnic groups.. We must strengthen our ethnic unity (p.6)

 

Because of the economic, political, cultural and educational differences between the workplaces of the University of Bath and Guyuan Teachers' College I want to clarify some of my assumptions and biases – the ones I am aware of, and on which I think rests the validity of ideas in this paper. I am aware that an understanding of the significance of the following ideas may only appeal to those readers who have a background in ideas from dialectical materialist thinking and who see the significance of the interconnecting relationships in educational enquiries in explorations of the influence of action research in the internationalisation of educational development.  I am hoping that I communicate below both the scholarly significance of ideas from propositional theories for my own educational development and for their connection to my present enquiry.

 

My economic, political, cultural, educational and theoretical assumptions and biases 

 

In my visit to the Centre in October 2004, I felt that I was invited to participate in an inclusive culture of community of the kind that Habermas describes in terms of an inclusive community and communicative action:

 

But how can the transition to a post-traditional morality as such be justified? Traditionally established obligations rooted in communicative action do not of themselves reach beyond the limits of the family, the tribe, the city, or the nation. However, the reflexive form of communicative action behaves differently: argumentation of its very nature points beyond all particular forms of life... the practice of deliberation is extended to an inclusive community that does not in principle exclude any subject capable of speech and action who can make relevant contributions. ..The bottom line is that the participants have all already entered into the cooperative enterprise of rational discourse.  (Habermas 2002, pp 40-41)

 

I felt that I was being invited to share in a process of learning in Guyuan, from our research, in a way that is consistent with Habermas' points about the importance, for the evolution of society and the development of an inclusive community, of focusing on learning processes. He makes this point towards the end of his monumental text on The Theory of Communicative Action:

 

... 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)

 

I also feel that the inclusional values I experienced at Guyuan resonate strongly with the powerful conclusion to Skidmore's text on inclusion as he analyses the dynamics of school improvement:

 

Marx's dictum that, in a truly democratic society, 'the free development of each is the condition of the free development of all' (Marx and Engels 1848/1965: 105) could serve as a useful guiding principle for the struggle to create a unified system of comprehensive education, reminding us that the end of education is not to reduce human difference but to allow individuality to flower. However, the socio-cultural theory of mind suggests that a dialectical inversion of Marx's formation is also necessary. The work of Vygotsky and his followers suggests that the growth of the individual personality depends on our experience of meaningful social interaction with others as participants in a common culture. From this point of view, institutionalized patterns of selection between schools, and of differentiation within them, impoverish and distort the individual development of every student, for they diminish our understanding of human difference. Participation in a diverse learning community is a prerequisite for the growth of each individual's subjectivity in all its richness; the combined development of all is the condition for the full development of each.   (Skidmore, 2003, p. 127)

 

So, in terms of my cultural assumptions and biases, I think that it will be possible, with colleagues at Guyuan, to develop an inclusive approach to the internationalisation of educational development through the development of a collaborative and communicative living theory approach to educational action research.

 

But what of the apparent differences in politics and economics between China and the UK and my assumptions and biases on these matters which prevent the development of a full mutuality of relationship? It would help in the development of this mutuality if you help me to reduce my biases in an inclusional process that will enable me to come closer to the people I wish to work with in China. China is led by a Communist Party - an avowedly Marxist Party. The social order within which I work at the University of Bath is held within Britain's social economy with its emphasis on the market economics of capitalist social formations in the policies of the present Labour Government. The way I make relational sense of these differences is with the help of Amartya Sen's economic theory of human capability. I see that Sen's theory of human capability extends economic theories of human capital and could be a valid response to the need for new ideas on development highlighted by Wen Jiabao (2004, p3).

 

The writings of Sen (1999), winner of the 1998 Nobel Prize in Economic Science, have helped me to articulate the assumptions of my economic theory as consistent with his economic theory of human capability. He distinguishes his economic theory of human capability from theories of human capital. As he says, in contemporary economic analysis the emphasis has, to a considerable extent, shifted from seeing capital accumulation in primarily physical terms to viewing it as a process in which the productive quality of human beings is integrally involved. He gives the example that, through education, learning, and skill formation, people can become much more productive over time, and this contributes greatly to the process of economic expansion. Through the emphasis on learning English, which is an international language, the Centre has these connections to the economy. Yet, for me it is the human potential here in Guyuan, in relation to the geographical and material conditions, which render Guyuan so rich in humanity and full of hope. It is because of the importance of Sen's focus on human capability that I find it so attractive.

 

According to Sen's economic theory, as a person becomes more efficient in commodity production, through education, then this is clearly an enhancement of human capital. This can add to the value of production in the economy and also to the income of the person who has been educated. In distinguishing his theory of human capability from a theory of human capital he points out that with the same level of income, a person may benefit from education, in reading, communicating, arguing, in being able to choose in a more informed way, in being taken more seriously by others and so on. Hence, says Sen, the benefits of education exceed its role as human capital in commodity production. His broader human-capability perspective notes and values these additional roles as well. In Sen's view the two perspectives are, thus, closely related but distinct.

 

For Sen there is a crucial valuational difference between the human capital focus and the concentration on human capabilities. It is a difference he relates to the distinction between means and ends. He says that the acknowledgment of the role of human qualities in promoting and sustaining economic growth - momentous as it is - tells us nothing about why economic growth is sought in the first place. While Guyuan is one of the smallest and minimally resourced cities in China I witnessed an energy of initiative, hope and passion for education that can answer the question as to why economic growth is being sought to enhance the well-being of all.

 

Sen believes that by focusing on the expansion of human freedom to live the kind of lives that people have reason to value, then the role of economic growth in expanding these opportunities has to be integrated into that more foundational understanding of the process of development as the expansion of human capability to lead more worthwhile and more free lives.  

 

He says that this distinction has a significant practical bearing on public policy:

 

While economic prosperity helps people to have wider options and to lead more fulfilling lives, so do more education, better health care, finer medical attention, and other factors that causally influence the effective freedoms that people actually enjoy. These "social developments" must directly count as "developmental," since they help us to lead longer, freer and more fruitful lives, in addition to the role they have in promoting productivity or economic growth or individual incomes. The use of the concept of "human capital," which concentrates only on one part of the picture (an important part, related to broadening the account of "productive resources"), is certainly an enriching move. But it does need supplementation. This is because human beings are not merely means of production, but also the end of the exercise' (Sen 1999, pp. 295-296)

 

 Sen believes that despite the usefulness of the concept of human capital, it is important to see human beings in a broader perspective by going beyond  the notion of human capital, after acknowledging its relevance and reach. He stresses that the broadening that is needed is additional and inclusive, rather than, in any sense, an alternative  to the "human capital" perspective.

 

In looking for a fuller understanding of the role of human capabilities, Sen says that we have to take note of:

 

i) their direct relevance to the well-being and freedom of people;

 

ii) their indirect role through influencing  social change; and

 

iii) their indirect role through influencing  economic production. (Sen, 1999, p. 296)

 

He believes that the relevance of the capability perspective incorporates each of these contributions and says that in contrast, in the standard literature human capital is seen primarily in terms of the third of the three roles. Even with their clear overlap of coverage he claims there is a strong need to go well beyond that rather limited and circumscribed role of human capital in understanding development as freedom. 

 

The economic assumptions and biases in my living theory approach to educational action research are consistent with Sen's economic theory of human capability. I am thinking here of the distinction he draws between theories of human capital and a theory of human capability and the need to go well beyond a theory of human capital in understanding development as freedom. Sen's understanding of development as freedom is con sistent with many of the action research accounts from Guyuan. See for example Ling Yiwen's (2004) account of her enquiry, 'How can I improve the students' self-confidence in classroom activities in order to enhance their learning?' , where she says:

 

How do we understand the centrality of the idea of freedom, which is related to each human-being's innate character? I know from this research, we shouldn't bind it up, shackle this freedom to our insights. In this way, creativity, interests, initiative and imagination are stymied which results in hindering the improvement of learning, the development of society, and the development of human beings. The only thing we can do is to make full use of this human creativity and enable it to benefit human beings.

 

 (Retrieved 11 November 2004 from   http://www.bath.ac.uk/~edsajw//moira/Ling%20Yiwen.htm)

 

I now want to consider the political assumptions and biases that I am aware of in my writings. I want to emphasise the importance of this awareness because there will be others of which I am unaware. You may be able to see some of these that will help me not to persist in error. I also have evidence that I have a tendency to lose the attention of those I am seeking to communicate with because I become too preoccupied with the complex abstractions in my language, rather than the pedagogy of my communications!

 

Respondents to a previous draft of this paper tell me that I must take particular care to keep my readers in mind as I communicate the next set of ideas related to my dialectics. My reason for including the following points in this paper is that the study of dialectics by colleagues at Guyuan is an important part of the growth of their educational knowledge and in their scholarship of educational enquiry. In the development of collaborative and inclusional living educational theories in Guyuan I believe that it will be necessary to engage with propositional and dialectical theories of development. I am conscious that understanding what follows is likely to require more than an introduction to dialectics.

 

 In writing this paper as a visiting professor of Guyuan Teachers College in China I am most aware of the influence of Marxist Theory in the Leadership of the Communist Party and I want to be as explicit as I can about the influences of Marxist Theory in my own research while acknowledging that I am a member of the Labour Party in Britain, not the Communist Party. As I have already emphasised, but I think it bears repeating,  I want to do this so that my own biases and other errors in my assumptions may be easier to detect and correct. I included the following ideas in my doctoral thesis (Whitehead, 1999 http://www.bath.ac.uk/~edsajw/jack.shtml ).

 

The two greatest influences in my understanding of dialectical materialism are Ilyenkov's (1977) Dialectical Logic and Seve's (1978) Man in Marxist Theory and the psychology of personality. I have already pointed to my belief in the importance of living logics in answering Ilyenkov's question, 'If an object exists as a living contradiction, what must the thought be that expresses it?' Ilyenkov's problem was that thoughts are expressed in statements and the law of contradiction prevents two mutually exclusive statements from being seen as true simultaneously.   I have also explained what I perceive as a limitation in Ilyenkov's ideas in believing that such a question can be answered by 'Writing Logic'. My own research can be understood as an exploration of the possibility that the question can be answered in 'Living Logics'. In this exploration I also draw on Kosok's (1976) insight on the process of systematizing and linearizing a non-linear dialectical process in studies of development and change  (Whitehead, 1999). 

 

Seve's writings on dialectical materialism influenced me through my fascination with the following distinctions between the meanings of concepts when understood dialectically and when they are understood from within propositional forms of abstraction:

 

According to Seve (1978), the task of conceptual thought is to express the logic of the essential processes through which the development of the object is brought about. Doing which , he says, the concepts absolutely do not tell us how the singular concrete is in general but in general how the singular concrete is produced. He says that in this way the essence can then be reached in its concrete reality, the singular grasped in the generality of the concept.

 

The importance for me in moving from the view that a concept such as 'person' could hold the meanings of the singular 'I' was highlighted in my earlier studies of philosophy where the 'I' in questions of the kind, 'What ought I to do?' immediately focused on the concept 'person' and eliminated the content of any particular 'I' from the discourse! In other words the concept 'person' served to eliminate attention from taking seriously the content-in-itself of the particular 'I' of a concrete individual asking questions of the kind, 'How do I improve what I am doing?'

 

 The crucial distinction I accept from Seve is where he says that, in dialectical forms of abstraction, as distinct from propositional forms of abstraction, the essence is not what appears common to the object and to others which are compared to it. It is the necessary internal movement of the object grasped in itself. The generality of the concept is not constituted by eliminating the singular but by raising the singular to the level of its internal logic (i.e. it constitutes the 'specific logic of the specific object') (Seve, 1978, p. 265). I also see the living logics in the construction of living educational theories by individuals, in these terms.  Perhaps in these terms the living educational theories of individuals can raise the singular to the level of its internal logic and constitute the specific logic of the specific object.

 

I distinguish my materialist use of the term 'concept' from its purely linguistic use by contrasting 'having a concept' in the linguistic sense with 'being a concept' in a materialist sense. As Peters and Hirst (1970) say, in the linguistic sense we can look upon understanding what it is to have a concept in the sense of grasping a principle and the ability to use words correctly. In my materialist view, understanding what it is to be a concept involves a reflection upon the process through which one's own concrete singularity is being produced and the struggle to live a good and productive life. In other words we can contrast: 

 

  'Having a concept' with 'Being a concept'.

 

  Grasping a principle with a reflection upon the process through which one's own concrete singularity is being produced.

 

  The ability to use words correctly with the struggle to live a good and productive life. 

 

The point about my dialectical view of 'I' and 'We' as materialist concepts is that I am attempting to show how in general the concrete singular is produced in enquiries of the kind, 'How do I improve what I am doing?' while at the same time contributing to the education of social formations through the creation of collaborative living educational theories with 'We' questions of the kind, 'How do we improve what we are doing?' I am not accepting Hegel's point that 'I' is the existence of a wholly abstract universality, a principle of abstract freedom. I am taking 'I' to be a concrete singular, which is also a principle of concrete freedom. In this I think that I am being consistent with Marx's inversion of Hegel's dialectic and Sen's ideas on development as freedom.

 

I would also distinguish my materialist 'I' from the 'I' of Hegel at the point where Hegel says;

 

'And when the individual 'I', or in other words personality is under discussion (of a personality in its own nature universal) such a personality is a thought and falls within the province of thought only.'

 

When I use 'I', I am using the word to mean my personality, in the sense of myself, as a singular concrete person with actual corporeal existence as a thinking body.

 

I am raising the issue of 'I' as  a materialist concept, as a problem to be worked through in the course of my analysis. I am conscious that in a linguistic form of conceptual analysis, such as the ones carried out by Peters (1966) in exploring enquiries of the form, 'What ought I to do?',  my 'I' would be treated as inessential to the analysis as it would be subsumed under the linguistic concept 'person' or 'teacher'. These concepts would be used in a propositional form of discourse which would conform to the Law of Contradiction.  

 

In my dialectical enquiry, 'I' is a concept which exists as a living contradiction in the sense that it is constituted by mutually opposite determinations. In my work the 'I' becomes a materialist concept in the sense that it is raised to the level of its internal logic and shows how in general the concrete singular is produced.' (Whitehead, 1982, pp. 29-32)

 

I think this last idea is particularly significant for the development of living standards of judgement from the ground of embodied values. In the construction of collaborative and living educational theories I believe that the dialectical process of showing the internal logic through which our lives and learning are developing will be part of the transformation of embodied values into the living standards that will distinguish the contribution of the Centre to educational knowledge and practice.

 

In making these points I do not want to be understood as dismissing the value of 'spectator' or 'propositional' theories. I still value highly my learning from my early initiation into these theories with philosophers, psychologists, sociologists and historians during my studies for the Academic Diploma in the philosophy and psychology of education and for my Masters Degree at the Institute of Education of the University of London and I like the way Marcel distinguishes between 'spectator' truth and 'living' truth:

 

Existentialists such as Gabriel Marcel (cf. Keen, 1966) distinguish between "spectator" truth and "living" truth.  The former is generated by disciplines (e.g., experimental science, psychology, sociology) which rationalise reality and impose on it a framework which helps them to understand it but at the expense of oversimplifying it.  Such general explanations can be achieved only by standing back from and "spectating" the human condition from a distance, as it were, and by concentrating on generalities and ignoring particularities which do not fit the picture.  Whilst such a process is very valuable, it is also very limited because it is one step removed from reality.  The "living" "authentic" truth of a situation can be fully understood only from within the situation though the picture that emerges will never be as clear-cut as that provided by "spectator" truth.'

(Burke, 1992, p.222).

 

I am however focusing attention on limitations in such 'spectator' theories as a foundation on which to create one's own living educational theory. I am seeking to make explicit the assumptions and biases in my claim that these limitations can be overcome in the creation of living educational theories which draw insights from the 'spectator' theories.

 

I now want to relate to a point made by Wen Jiabao about hegemony and connect this idea to some possible biases in my research related to my race and gender, being a white, male scholar who is seeking to enhance the quality of evaluation of his productive life by explicitly including postcolonial values in this evaluation. Wen Jiabao's point is that:

 

 China will never seek hegemony. It will join all peace-loving forces in the world in opposing hegemony, power politics and terrorism in all forms and manifestations. (Jiabao, 2004, p. 7).

 

The emphasis I am now placing in my exploring of the influence of action research in the internationalisation of educational development is focused on the educational influence of collaborative living educational theories in the education of social formations. In seeking to live my postcolonial values more fully in my practice I am conscious of existing as the living contradiction described by Paulus Murray, a postcolonial scholar, friend and educator as I live with and hold together my valuing of being British together with the legitimacy of expressing the following views. I have worked with Paulus to reduce our tendencies to 'scarify' through the passionate critiques in our language. By 'scarification' I am meaning the laceration of emotions through harsh or brutal criticism in a way that tends to close down the possibilities for open and educational discourse. The following views are not intended to 'scarify' the reader but they do deal with the harsh and brutal realities of the invasion of Iraq:

 

With Britain and America's alongsideness in the crime against humanity in Fallujah, I am reminded of Sartre's iconic depiction of 'bad faith'. He writes in Colonialism, Neocolonialism (2001, Routledge) that on VE Day in Europe, French citizens  were celebrating the liberation of their self-determination from Nazi German occupation as their self-determining government was authorizing the destruction of the town of Setif in Algeria to destroy anti-colonial freedom fighters whose only crime was their "equality of desire" for the same values of humanity for self-determination expressed by their French colonial masters. The embodied ontological values of a passion for choice and self-determination, central to anti-colonialism, inform and mediate my values as postcolonialist in my educative practice in active and living ways. I hold these values in antithesis of the 'bad faith' values of (in-)humanity expressed by the French government in 1945, and British and American governments in Iraq today. The 'bad faith' of celebrating your own liberation while bombing to death freedom fighters of a country

you are simultaneously colonizing carries poignant resonances over sixty years, speaking to contemporary American and British colonialism: "We come to democratise, shoot to kill". In Fallujah we are witnessing the desecration of values that carry hope for the future of humanity, values that inform my postcolonialist educational choices and actions. I agree with my doctoral colleague, Nceku Nyathi (Leicester University Management Centre) in suggesting that postcolonialism is a decolonizing practice and epistemology and what's happening in Fallujah is the (Iraqi) post-colonial condition in the face of Empire." (Murray, e-mail correspondence, 9/11/04 & 10/11/04)

 

If you return to the values embodied and expressed in the video-clips above, these contain the values that carry my hope for the future of humanity. Watching the bombs fall on Fallujah, with the deaths of the citizens of Iraq being caused with the active support of the government of my country and its troops, makes me aware of the vital nature of the contradiction of  holding these values together with their negation. My hope is that by enhancing the flow of  the life-affirming values as shown in the video-clips, in the education of social formations through living collaborative educational theories with postcolonial values, we will help to stem the flow of values that negate this hope.