Living Theory Group

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Jack Whitehead, Visiting Professor of Education, University of Cumbria, UK. E-mail me at

What's new in the 2018-19 Academic Year?

Connecting curriculum development, creativity and professional learning through Living Theory research. Jack Whitehead's presentation to the International Professional Development Association (IPDA) conference on 29-30 November 2019 at Aston University, Birmingham, UK.

Margaret Wadsley's successful transfer report from MPhil. to PhD. programme at the Universities of Lancaster and Cumbria, November 2019.

A keynote presentation to the conference on ‘The teacher’s identity and job profile as a professional’ 08th November 2019 in the Melina Merkouri Hall, Athens. Organisers SY.N.TH.E.SI. : The Heuristic Teachers’ Society, Aegean University, Workshop of Psychology.

18 minute video of Jack Whitehead's TEDx talk on Living Educational Theory research at the University of Bolton on the 24 October 2019

Accepted proposals for CARN-ALARA 17-19 October 2019 Conference in Split, Croatia: 'Imagine Tomorrow: Practitioner Learning for the Future'

Whitehead, J. (2018) Living Theory research as a way of life. Bath; Brown Dog Books

Homepage of The Educational Journal Of Living Theories (EJOLTS).

Current issue of EJOLTS, June 2019, 12(1) freely available

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

LIVING-THEORY-POSTERS of the 5 September 2019


Network Educational Action Research Ireland (NEARI)

Contribute to the NEARI Space for Reflection

Values of the International Co-operative Alliance



Details of the Practitioner-Researcher 2016-19 e-seminar on JISCmail.

Join or Leave the 2016-19 Practitioner Researcher e-seminar on JISCmail.

Archives of the Practitioner-Researcher 2007-19 e-seminar on JISCmail.

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

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

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

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