WHAT COUNTS AS EVIDENCE IN SELF-STUDIES OF TEACHER EDUCATION PRACTICES?
Jack Whitehead, Department of Education, University of Bath
Dedicated to the life and memory of Fran Halliday, who died on the 5th October, 2002.
Answers to this question depend on what you and I are looking for and the contextual influences in our ways of seeing. Each reader could be looking for something different. My gaze is focused on evidence from the self-studies of teacher-education practices that shows contributions to the growth of educational knowledge. These contributions include my own self-study 'How do I improve what I am doing?' as a teacher-educator and educational researcher at the University of Bath between 1973-2003. I will undoubtedly bring some of my biases as a white, middle-class male, working in the Academy, into this enquiry. However I have learnt much about my own biases from the enquiries of others who work with difference perspectives to my own. My analysis of this learning is focused on the evidence of five kinds of contribution to the growth of educational knowledge. These contributions are to educational theories, to educational standards of judgement, to educational research methodologies, to the logic of educational enquiries and to understandings of educational influence. The evidence of understanding educational influence is considered in the education of the s-step researcher, in the education of others, and in the education of social formations.
Often it is challenging enough to look critically at one's own teaching practices. While the obvious purpose of self-study is improvement, it is even more challenging to make changes and seek evidence that the changes did indeed represent improvement. ( Russell, 2002, pp. 3-4)
Tom Russell is right about the focus on improvement in self-studies of teaching education practices. He is also right about the challenges of making changes and in seeking evidence that the changes represent improvement. The significance of clarifying what counts as evidence in relation to the growth of educational knowledge has been well expressed by Catherine Snow in her Presidential Address to AERA when she stressed the need for developing agreed-upon procedures for transforming knowledge based on personal experiences of practice into 'public' knowledge (Snow, 2001, p.9)
This Chapter is based on the premise that teacher-researchers have the capacity to create and test their own educational theories through their self-studies of their teacher-education practices (Whitehead, 1972). I hold these educational theories to be the descriptions and explanations of their learning in educational enquiries of the kind, 'How do I improve what I am doing?'
The Chapter is organised in terms of the five questions that have emerged from my desire to contribute to educational knowledge through educational research. They are questions about evidence in relation to the nature of knowledge and theory, of values-based standards of judgement, of educational research methodology, of a logic of educational enquiry and of educational influence:
- Is there evidence of the generation and testing of educational theories from the embodied knowledge of s-step researchers?
- Is there evidence of the transformation of the embodied values of the s-step researcher into the standards of judgement that can be used to test the validity of s-step accounts?
- Is there evidence of the emergence of educational research methodologies as distinct from a social science methodology in s-step enquiries?
- Is there evidence of a logic of educational enquiry?
- Is there evidence of educational influence in educating oneself, in the learning of others and in the education of social formations.
I have used a similar structure in the answer to each question. I start by explaining why I see the question as having significance in relation to the growth of educational knowledge. I then show how s-step researchers have contributed the evidence that answers the question.
To avoid confusions that could arise because I haven't clarified the way I am using particular words I want to begin by distinguishing the ways I am using the words, data, evidence, living, I, self, validity, inquiry and enquiry.
I make a clear distinction between data and evidence. I am thinking of data as the information that is collected during an enquiry. I am thinking of evidence as data that is used to support or refute a belief, assertion, hypothesis or claim to knowledge. An s-step report that explains an individual's learning at a particular time, can itself become data and used as evidence in a later report that explains the transformations in learning through time. In other words data only becomes evidence in relation to testing the validity of a belief or claim to know.
A distinction I need to make concerns the traditional forms of scholarship that produce theory as a 'spectator' truth in the form of interconnected sets of propositions, and new forms of scholarship that produce theory as 'living' truth in explanations formed from embodied values:
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, A.1992, p.222).
Because a key word in this Handbook is self-study I do want to be clear that I am not starting with a conceptual definition of the 'Self' in the form of a linguistic abstraction. I am starting from the experience of my own enquiring 'I', in questions of the kind, 'How do I improve what I am doing?'. I am starting from the assumption that you, I, and others,
experience the content of our own enquiring 'I' and can make sense of this content. I am assuming that we can communicate the content of the embodied knowledge in what we are doing in a way that transforms it into public knowledge. This assumption carries Patti Lather's notion of the ironic validity that the embodied knowledge can never be represented as it is, in and for itself:
First the practical problem: Today there is as much variation among qualitative researchers as there is between qualitative and quantitatively orientated scholars. Anyone doubting this claim need only compare Miles and Huberman's (1994) relatively traditional conception of validity <'The meanings emerging from the data have to be tested for their plausibility, their sturdiness, their 'confirmability' - that is, their validity' (p.11)> with Lather's discussion of ironic validity:
"Contrary to dominant validity practices where the rhetorical nature of scientific claims is masked with methodological assurances, a strategy of ironic validity proliferates forms, recognizing that they are rhetorical and without foundation, postepistemic, lacking in epistemological support. The text is resituated as a representation of its 'failure to represent what it points toward but can never reach... (Lather, 1994, p. 40-41)'." (Donmoyer, 1996 p.21.)
Because enquiry and inquiry are used interchangeably by self-study researchers I prefer to use both in this text rather than change the words actually used by researchers for the sake of consistency.
With these meanings in mind I will now address the five questions of evidence.
- Is there evidence of the generation and testing of educational theories from the embodied knowledge of s-step researchers?
Significance of the question
The significance of the question in relation to the growth of educational knowledge has been well expressed by Hamilton and Pinnegar (1998) in their writings about the living educational theories of members of the s-step community.
We have thought through this phrase often and assert that this book generally and self-study specifically is indeed an example of living educational theory in two ways. It is living because, as people engage in understanding it, they learn more and their theory changes as they understand more. Further, because they are living what they learn, new knowledge emerges. The work in the special issue of Teacher Educational Quarterly (Russell and Pinnegar, 1995) provides one example of that, while McNiff's Teaching as Learning (1993) is another good example. McNiff explains action research techniques that might be used to not just create better classroom practice and thus learn as one teaches, but also to conduct systematic study of the practice using action research principles so that educational theory continues to grow. As one's educational practice improves, accounts of it and therefore knowledge about it is added to the knowledge base of the teaching and research community. (Hamilton & Pinnegar, 1998, pp. 242-243)
Evidence from s-step research
In my search for evidence from s-step researchers that they have transformed their embodied knowledge into publicly testable educational knowledge and educational theory I analysed the accounts in Improving teacher education practices through self-study (Loughran and Russell, ed., 2002).
With sixteen chapters from some 24 contributors the editors, Russell distinguishes the contribution from Bass, Anderson-Patton and Allender as: Perhaps more than any other chapter in this collection, this one offers detailed accounts of what self-study is and how self-study can lead to changes in teaching practice (Russell, 2002, p.3). Accepting Russell's point I want to focus on the evidence in the self-study teaching portfolios described in the text. Here is the description of the contents of the teaching portfolios that I found most telling in terms of its reference to five pieces of evidence.
- a dialogue that represented the process students went through while creating their teaching portfolios (based on Vicky's and Lis' teaching journals, students' comments, and pieces of student writing);
- students' artefacts - selections from their teaching portfolios;
- meta-narratives (our version of their stories)
- alternative representations ( a collage and a drawing) of our self-studies; and
- the paper.
Thus our portfolios used drama, narrative writing, academic writing, and graphic arts to present our self-studies (Bass, Anderson-Patton and Allender, 2002, p. 58).
The evidence in the portfolios included meanings expressed through drama, narrative writing, academic writing and graphic arts. These meanings are very different, as Eisner (1993, 1997) has pointed out, from the meanings that can be communicated through a solely propositional discourse.
I am thinking of the significant meanings that can be shown through portfolios of evidence that include visual media such as the video-ethnographies of Carl Harris (2000) and his collaborators. Harris uses video-clips from classrooms, interviews and lectures, together with written and audio text to communicate the meanings of educational practice. The Carnegie Media Laboratory (2002) and other researchers (Fletcher and Whitehead, 2003) have also presented multi-media portfolios of evidence in a narrative form that include visual images of educational practices to communicate meanings that cannot be adequately represented through words on pages, even the most poetic.
In my search for evidence of theory generation and testing through s-step research I have been particularly impressed with that offered by Dalmau and Gudjonsdottir (2002). They use the term "Professional Working Theory" to symbolize professional understanding that evolves through the constant interplay of professional knowledge, practical experience, reflection, and ethical or moral principles:
Explicit Professional Working Theory is developed through systematic and comprehensive critical reflection and collegial dialogue, and also contributes to the construction of professional identity, the creation of professional knowledge, and the development of collegial approaches to practice. The Professional Working Theory process outlined below, offers teachers (and academics) an opportunity to frame their reflection on the living theories implicit in their practice. (p. 104)
Dalmau and Gudjonsdottir demonstrate, through their dialogue, reflections and analysis, that they value the unique knowledge and experience that teachers bring to educational discourse. They also demonstrate that self-study can provide an important opportunity for university and school researchers to do their 'separate work together' and frame a shared discourse. Theirs is a most exciting contribution to evidence of theory generation and testing in self-study research. Yet, having said that, when I compare the quality of the evidence in Dalmau's (2002) doctoral thesis on 'Taking a Fresh Look at Education: Reconstructing Learning and Change with Teachers' with the evidence in the Chapter, I am struck by how much more convincing the evidence is when presented as a longitudinal study in a doctoral thesis than when it is constrained within 6000 words or so of a chapter in a book.
Such constraints can be overcome using web-technology. Using an address for a web-site you can access directly the evidence and judge its validity for yourself. Consider for example the following 'I' enquiries, accredited by the University of Bath for Doctoral and Masters degrees.
Laidlaw, M. (1996) How can I create my own living educational theory as I offer you an account of my educational development?Ph.D.
Holley, E. (1997) How do I as a teacher-researcher contribute to the development of a living educational theory through an exploration of my values in my professional practice?M.Phil.
Cunningham, B. (1999) How do I come to know my spirituality as I create my own living educational theory?Ph.D.
Finnegan, (2000) How do I create my own educational theory in my educative relations as an action researcher and as a teacher?Ph.D.
Each self-study was sustained over more than five years. Each researcher transformed their own embodied knowledge as a professional educator into the public knowledge of a contribution to educational theory. The evidence of the inclusion of the enquiring 'I' in the titles shows that self-study researchers have been accredited in research degrees with making significant contributions to educational knowledge and educational theory. In meeting Snow's (2001) point about the importance of developing agreed-upon procedures for transforming knowledge based on personal experiences of practice into 'public' knowledge, this evidence shows that such procedures are already well established in the Academy. Where there is still much work to be done is in developing the shared understandings of the values-based standards of judgement used by examiners of s-step accounts. For example, there is much agreement in the Academy that the growth of knowledge requires the exercise of originality of mind and critical judgement. These are standards used to judge contributions to the growth of knowledge. Because education is a value-laden practical activity, value judgements are necessary in judging something as a contribution to educational knowledge. Hence it is important to understand the nature of the values-based standards of judgement for testing the validity of this knowledge. This brings me to my second question.
- Is there evidence of the transformation of the embodied values of the s-step researcher into the standards of judgement that can be used to test the validity of s-step accounts?
Significance of the question
In this chapter I am assuming that Schon (1995) is correct about the need for a new epistemology for the new scholarship. Developing a new epistemology requires new standards of judgement (Coulter and Wiens, 2002; Hiebert, Gallimore and Stigler, 2002).
In pointing to different kinds of evidence in s-step research I know that s-step researchers have been concerned to offer definitions of quality in autobiographical forms of self-study research. Bullough & Pinnegar (2001) for example, offer some 14 assertions of the kind:
- Autobiographical studies should ring true and enable connection.
- Self-studies should promote insight and interpretation
- Autobiographical self-study research must engage history forthrightly and the author must take an honest stand.
These helpful linguistic assertions can be related to the recognition of what counts as evidence of the values-based standards of judgement that are emerging from s-step research. I am thinking of the evidence that shows the transformation of embodied values into communicable standards of judgement for testing the validity of the contributions to educational knowledge of s-step researchers.
One of the challenges in writing this chapter is the conceptual complexity and range of evidence that can be used in answering the question about the transformation of embodied values into educational standards of judgement. Shulman (2002) has argued that the scholarship of teaching is the highest form of scholarship because, unlike any of the other forms, it necessarily includes all of the others. Because each of us is different, it is possible for every self-study to produce different evidence in relation to claims to knowledge about teacher education practices. Yet, to count as a contribution to knowledge within an academic community it is necessary for the validity of our beliefs to be evidence based and tested for validity within standards of scholarly discourse. I am thinking of standards that can be used to judge what counts as evidence of a valid and legitimate contribution to educational knowledge.
At this point I want to be open to the most radical possibility that all concepts of validity in relation to evidence should be abandoned in s-step research. Judith Newman (1998) has made a case for this position as she questions the value of a concern with 'validity':
I think I've abandoned a concern with "validity" and replaced it with a need to find/create an interpretive community within which data, ideas, arguments resonate. I am concerned about making "significant and original contributions" not to knowledge but to the understanding of the interpretive community. (Newman, 1999)
I am concerned with both kinds of contribution to educational discourse. The contribution Austin (2000) made to both in her s-step research into her practice of community was made while President of S-STEP. Before considering this evidence I want to distinguish between the truth of power and the power of truth (Foucault, 1980). I see that the truth of power can legitimate what counts as evidence. I see that the power of truth can validate the standards of judgement that can be used to distinguish what counts as evidence. History has countless illustrations of the truth of power being used to legitimate what counts as evidence with no concern for validity. The case of Galileo being shown the instruments of torture as if they were to be used, to make him recant his evidence-based belief that the earth moved round the sun is an illustration of the truth of power.
In relation to the power of truth, I see the procedures being used to validate educational knowledge as being focused on values-based standards. I think the values-base brings something distinctively ontological into s-step research. This is because of the nature of 'first person' or 'I' enquiries provide an ontological connection to the epistemological standards. In other words it is a form of research that requires of the researcher a willingness to hold himself or herself to account in terms of values. It also requires, as part of being a researcher, a willingness to offer the account for public validation as a contribution to educational knowledge. Hence the importance of ensuring that the values-based standards of judgement that are being used by the s-step researcher can be communicated for use in public tests of validity. This is not to say that the standards must be accepted by others as useful in their enquiries. It is to say that the values-based standards must be comprehended by others in order to publicly test the validity of the account with the researchers own standards. The validity of these standards, within an open society, must be open to question.
In my view of education and educational research, values-based standards characterise educational judgements. I cannot accept/judge something as educational, without approving it. My judgements that something is 'educational' draw on my embodied values. This is not to deny that others have different values in defining what constitutes something as 'educational'. Belonging to any community usually involves the acceptance of a constellation of values with each individual's educational development being constituted by their own.
Evidence from s-step research
In searching for evidence that the embodied values of s-step researchers can be transformed into publicly communicable and living standards of educational judgement , I turned to the s-step research of Terri Austin (2000), a former president of S-STEP. I focused on the evidence in her doctoral inquiry: Treasures in the snow: what do I know and how do I know it through my educational inquiry into my practice of community?
In the abstract to her thesis Austin claims to have demonstrated how a teacher researcher can create her own knowledge through a combining and recombining practice, personal creativity, intuition, theoretical frameworks, and critical judgement in various degrees at different times. Austin claims that her thesis shows an alternative to traditional forms of criticism frequently found in academic work related to the growth of knowledge. She presents this alternative as a written representation of values that I use as my living standards of practice and judgement in the self-study of my professional practice. (Austin 2000- http://www.actionresearch.net/austin.shtml)
My central point about the values-based standards of judgement that Terri Austin uses in both her practice of community and in her contribution to educational knowledge is that they can be communicated to others and used to judge the validity of her account. This process of communication involved the clarification of the meanings of her values as they emerged in her practice of community and enquiry.
One of the characteristics I have noticed in s-step accounts, especially within those that are awarded doctoral degrees is the researcher's persistence in the face of pressure. Understanding the meanings of embodied values, as these are clarified through their emergence in practice, seems to involve this persistence. Consider the meanings of Austin's embodied value and living standard of integrity as the meanings emerge in Chapter 6: Leaving Community: An Unexpected Event.
Austin's Chapter 6 tells a story of leaving a school community that means a lot to her in her life as a professional educator. This includes her practice of community. The narrative includes a description of the tension of being faced with the imposition of a curriculum related to literacy that deeply offends her understanding of education and pedagogy. She explains her decision to leave the school community, as some professional risk, and communicates the meanings of her embodied value of integrity as self-criticism in a way that communicates these as educational standards of judgement.
The evidence in Austin's thesis also supports her claim that she has shown an alternative to traditional forms of criticism. These traditional forms of criticism are invariably found in academic work because of the significance of critical judgement in the growth of knowledge. Rather than engaging in a form of criticism that argues solely from within propositional forms of discourse, Austin offers for public evaluation and criticism an explanation of her own learning in her enquiry into her practice of community. Learning to use her living standards of judgement involves a form of criticism that requires an appreciation and engagement (D'Arcy, 1998) with the meanings of her ontological values of community and relationship as well as an ability to engage in propositional discourse.
I am suggesting that the unique constellation of values, embodied in the practices of each s-step researcher, moves the researcher to accept a responsibility to account for their own practice and learning in terms of their values. These accounts, in the form of descriptions and explanations of learning, are contributing to the growth of educational knowledge. For example, in Terry Austin's s-step enquiry into her practice of community, I can see that the list of criteria of quality offered by Bullough and Pinnegar (2001), are helpful in making a judgement on the quality of her autobiographical self-study. However, something more, in addition to these criteria, is needed in developing an understanding of the embodied meanings of community, emerging from Austin's practice as educational standards of judgement. I think it bears repeating that an understanding of such living standards of judgement and their use in testing the validity of the evidence in s-step accounts, requires the kind of engaged and appreciative reading advocated by D'Arcy (1998). It needs this response in order to see how an embodied value of community has been transformed into a sufficiently stable and comprehensible living standard of judgement, for others to use in testing the validity of the knowledge-claims.
In considering what counts as evidence in s-step research I do not want to avoid the contentious issues surrounding the legitimation of claims to knowledge. I am thinking of the motivational and explanatory power of living contradictions connected with spiritual, and aesthetic values.
Evidence of transforming embodied spiritual and aesthetic values into standards of judgement
In his Presidential Address to AERA Eisner (1993) called for and used a multi-media presentation of alternative forms of data representation in educational research. The iconic images of Martin Luther King and the chimneys of Auschwitz carried spiritual, and aesthethic meanings. Eisner has also pointed out the problems and perils of this form of data representation (Eisner, 1997).
In thinking about evidence of spiritual standards in s-step research I am drawn to the desire for recognition by others described by Fukuyama:
Human beings seek recognition of their own worth, or of the people, things, or principles that they invest with worth. The desire for recognition, and the accompanying emotions of anger, shame and pride, are parts of the human personality critical to political life. (Fukuyama, 1992, p. xvii)
Let me see if I can communicate more clearly the nature of the spiritual quality of recognition I am seeking in evidence of spiritual standards in s-step research through Martin Buber's 'I-You relation, It is essential that he should awaken the I-You relationship in the pupil, too, who should intend and affirm his educator as this particular person. (Buber, 1970, p.178)
In seeking evidence in s-step research of the recognition in the 'I-You' relationship and in the thymotic sense of 'spiritness' (Fukuyama, 1992, p. xvi) I have found that it is often accompanied by evidence showing that the s-step researcher has engaged with, or overcome, a tendency to megalothymia. This is distinguished by Fukuyama in the sense of a search to be recognised as superior to others. In Schon's terms, I see that, the problem of introducing and legitimizing in the university the kinds of action research associated with the new scholarship is one not only of the institution but of the scholars themselves". (Schon, 1995, p.34)
What Schon means by this is that the development of an epistemology of practice for the new scholarship will be hindered by a double impediment. He says that on the one hand there is the power of disciplinary in-groups that have grown up around the dominant epistemology of the research universities. On the other hand there is the inability of those who might become new scholars to make their practice into appropriately rigorous research. (Schon, 1995, p.34)
Moira Laidlaw (1995) is an s-step researcher who has overcome such impediments and made her practice into appropriately rigorous research in an original contribution to the growth of educational knowledge. I am thinking of the evidence in her 6 year doctoral enquiry, 'How can I create my own living educational theory as I offer you an account of my educational development?' Her insights into the living nature of spiritual and aesthetic standards of judgement for evaluating evidence in s-step accounts are now part of my understanding of how ontological standards of living and being can become epistemological standards of judgement in testing the validity of knowledge-claims in s-step research. Laidlaw communicates her embodied spiritual and aesthetic values with the help of Coleridge's 'The Ancient Mariner'. The general prologue to her thesis was commended by her examiners as amongst the most persuasive pieces of reflective writing they had read. You can check the validity of my claim that it fits Winter's (2000) points (with the exception of his points about organisation and method) about a thesis he has also examined
É the most powerful and persuasive quality that came over from the text, as I read it, was an evocation of practice at its most intense. It seemed to describe the thought processes of an inspired teacher thinking inspirationally about the relationships of teaching and leaning and about the curriculum which mediated these relationships. It documented the extremely impressive pupil insights that had been provoked and simulated, and the whole text seemed to move towards pushing back the boundaries of interpreting what teaching is about, in ways which were both practical and highly theoretical. On the one hand it seemed to be a brilliant description of a brilliant series of English lessons; on the other hand, it brought out and theorised the way in which this had been an intense existential, aesthetic, spiritual experience for all concerned. But the text was also, in may respects, disorganised and it left many 'obvious' questions (of method for example) unanswered. So my questions here were. 'Is this 'rigorous'? Is this 'research'? (Winter, Griffiths & Green, 2000, p. 29)
These questions from Winter about rigour and research are important to address in looking for evidence of new living standards of judgement in s-step research. In communicating the nature of her living spiritual and aesthetic standards of judgement, Laidlaw integrates reflective commentaries and extracts from conversations with her pupils as she makes public her embodied knowledge as a professional educator. The evidence in Laidlaw's thesis show how poetic communications contributed to her moral insights and enabled her to explain the connections between her desire for beauty, truth and goodness with her pupils in the creation of her own living educational theory. There is much evidence of learning taking place in educational dialogue within the thesis, with conversations of the quality described by Gadamer below.
Perhaps the most challenging evidence to seek in s-step research is that associated with living spiritual standards, including love.
Finnegan's five year doctoral enquiry on 'How do I create my own educational theory in my educative relations as an action research and as a teacher?' shows evidence of living spiritual standards through his embodied value of love. He does this by focusing on one of the most powerful s-step questions I have encountered, 'How can love enable justice to see rightly?'
In creating his own living theory Finnegan gathers data using the methods of an analytic scientist, a conceptual theorist, a conceptual humanist and a particular humanist. I will return to the significance of these social science methodologies when I consider the evidence below that s-step researchers, like Finnegan, have contributed to a distinctively 'educational' research methodology. Finnegan presents the evidence in his answer to his question in a detailed and publicly accessible form in his thesis on the internet (Finnegan, 2000). I am drawing your attention to this evidence as it also demonstrates how a self-study researcher can integrate insights from the conceptual theories of others in a way that meets the highest standards of scholarly discourse when answering the question, 'How can love enable justice to see rightly?'
As Finnegan considers his question, he takes care to acknowledge the sources of the different contributions to his theory construction. He shows how 'exercising a preferential option for the most disadvantaged' students has been influenced by Catholic liberation theology. He also notes the high degree of resonance, from his viewpoint, between the value of 'exercising a preferential option for the most disadvantaged' students and the value of producing 'the greatest benefit of the least advantaged' within Rawls's Second Principle of Justice. The quality of his critical engagement with the ideas of others may be judged from the point that:
É.my noting of the above 'high degree of resonance' does not mean that I am adopting Rawls's meta-theoretical social justice construct or 'calculus', but, rather, that I prize the value of giving preferential treatment to the 'weakest' within the 'maximin formula' of Rawls's Second Principle of Justice. It is also worth stressing here is that I am not creating or promulgating a meta-narrative of social justice in my own educational action research theory construction. (Finnegan, 2000, p. 217)
A recent contribution to the evidence from self-study that shows the transformation of embodied spiritual and aesthetic values into epistemological standards of judgement has been made by Jacqueline Scholes-Rhodes.
In her doctoral thesis, From the Inside Out: Learning to presence my aesthetic and spiritual 'being' through the emergent form of a creative art of inquiry, Scholes-Rhodes (2002) provides the evidence to establish her meanings of exquisite connectivity in relation to presencing both her aesthetic and spiritual 'being' . The evidence requires the engaged and appreciative response of a reader who is able to make informed judgements on how writing, images, music, poetry and the arts can communicate such meanings. These involve the recognition of the contexts and sometimes difficult relationships out of which the meanings of the standards of judgement emerge. The recognition also involves the aesthetically engaged and appreciative responses to writings with the following qualities:
I wanted to understand, to sustain and nurture these emotional and aesthetic glimpses as an experience of spirituality in my life. Each image engenders a sense of connectivity, sometimes emerging from the aesthetic curve of a natural landscape or from perfumed scents on the wind, and other times overwhelming in the simplicity of human relationship. It can flow simply from a memory of beauty, precious in its cocoon of silence, the silence itself so precious in a cacophonous world. I wanted to feel this 'exquisite connectivity' daily - to wake sure in it power, to absorb its energy and nourishment..... (Scholes-Rhodes, 2002)
In judging what counts as evidence in s-step research I have focused on contributions to educational theory and to standards of judgement. Because of the importance of understanding how s-step researchers conduct their enquiries, in terms of their methods, I now want to question whether there is evidence that shows a distinctively 'educational' research methodology is emerging from s-step accounts.
- Is there evidence of the emergence of educational research methodologies as distinct from a social science methodology in s-step enquiries?
Significance of the Question
The focus of educational discourse about the methods for transforming embodied knowledge into public knowledge concerns the nature of educational judgement (Coulter and Wiens, 2002). Educational judgements are value-laden because of the nature of education as a value-laden practical activity. Hence the development of educational judgements by s-step researchers requires an understanding of how the embodied values of educational practitioners can be transformed into communicable standards of judgement for publicly testing the validity of the evidence in educational knowledge-claims (Whitehead, 1999, 2000, 2002).
I want to emphasise the importance of insights from Lyotard (1984) and Dadds and Hart (2001) for an understanding of the methods that can transform data into evidence in s-step accounts. I am assuming that s-step researchers are postmodern writers in Lyotard's sense that in producing our accounts we are giving a form to our lives as we express our arts as educators and s-step researchers:
A postmodern artist or writer is in the position of a philosopher: the text he (or she) 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, 1984. p81)
In their work on doing practitioner research differently Dadds and Hart stress the importance for some practitioner-researchers of creating their own unique way through their research by trusting their own methodological inventiveness. They believe that this may be as important as a self-chosen research focus. Their crucial insight is that how practitioners chose to research, and their sense of control over this, can be equally important to their motivation, to their sense of identity within the research and to their research outcomes. (Dadds & Hart, 2001, p. 166).
My analysis of the evidence from s-step accounts has led me to the conclusion that each researcher creates their own unique way through their research by exercising their methodological inventiveness. Just as each s-step researcher can be characterised by a unique constellation of values, so their research can be characterised by their forms of methodological inventiveness. Because of the evidence of this inventiveness in s-step accounts I want to clarify a methodological question. The question is whether there is an 'educational' research methodology, which can be distinguished from social science methodologies, for self-study enquiries of the kind, 'How do I improve what I am doing?'
In our different autobiographies of research Allender (1991) and I (Whitehead, 1985, 1999 ) have used the Mitroff and Kilman classification of social science methodologies:
The typology can be represented as follows:
Each methodology is distinguished by differences between its preferred logic and method of enquiry.
It is my contention that s-step researchers are creating distinctively 'educational' research methodologies that cannot be validly categorised within the above social science methodologies. Because of their ontological commitment to study their own learning in enquiries of the form, 'How do I improve my practice?' s-step researchers do engage in systematic action/reflection spirals in which researchers:
i) (I) experience a concern because educational values are negated
ii) (I) imagine a solution to the problem.
iii) (I) act in the direction of this solution.
iv) (I) evaluate the outcomes of action.
v) (I) modify problems, ideas and actions in the light of evaluations.
While there has been much pain and struggle in legitimising such views in the Academy (Whitehead, 1993) I can now recall with some humour the responses by other scholars to my insistence that the personal pronoun, my 'I' and the 'I' of others could be included in a question worthy of research. Yet, I know of a recent case where a university research committee has asked for the personal pronoun to be removed from an action researcher's question! Suderman-Gladwell's (2001) dissertation on The Ethics of Personal, Narrative, Subjective Research, provides evidence of a sustained engagement with the politics involved in conducting s-step research in the face of a university ethics committee that applied ethical guidelines from social science research. While Suderman-Gladwell graduated with his degree for the quality of his study, he had to abandon his classroom based s-step research in the face of the application to his research proposal of inappropriate ethical guidelines from the social sciences.
Evidence from s-step research
Maura McIntyre's and Ardra Cole's (2001) performance text at the Third International Conference of the Self-Study of Teacher Education Practices Special Interest Group of AERA, showed methodological inventiveness at its most inspiring:
Performance of the research text is an embodiment and representation of the inquiry process as well as a new process of active learning. The possibility of active learning in each performance or recreation of the text exists through our ongoing commitment to maintaining the conditions of our relationship. Each performance is an experiential basis for reflection, analysis, and learning because in relationship we are 'participants-as-collaborators' (Lincoln, 1993, p. 42). Together we were able to draw out each other's knowledge and strength. (McIntyre & Cole, 2001, p. 22).
The brilliance of their performance text was in the way they communicated the nature of an educative relationship that focused on learning to tap-dance. Without the visual and auditory communications, included in the performance text, significant meanings are lost in the textual representation on pages in a book.
Mitchell and Weber (1999) have also provided evidence on how they relate their own performance texts to their idea of theorising nostalgia. They recognise that the term nostalgia can lead us into an arena laden with competing ideologies and perspectives. As they use it, nostalgia can be a liberating concept in the sense of a reinvention which uses what we know now to inform and critique what could have been. Much of what they explore involves a reclaiming of the past that acknowledges the fact that it is gone and can never be relived in the same way. As they say, it may never have existed in exactly the way that we think it did. This does not mean that it is of no use, for memories can evoke a utopia towards which we can work:
Reinvention through self-study can be a powerful and highly effective means of self-transformation and a catalyst for professional growth. It can strengthen or weaken hidden bits of self, challenging us to incorporate certain ignored elements into our professional identity, or forcing us to wrap our imagination around a different image of ourselves in action. It can be wonderfully motivating in its ability to bring home a painful or a beautiful truth, and help us appreciate and even bring about our most meaningful moments as teachers. Studying ourselves does not always involve major change; sometimes it is just about revaluing what was already there and using it in new ways that are informed by both the personal and the social. (Mitchell and Weber, p. 232, 1999)
Their performance text on 'The Prom Dress' in relation to a developing awareness of the significance of the dress in the learnings and life of North American women carried emotional meanings whose communication required the experience of their relationship as well as a linguistic text.
As Mitchell and Weber provide evidence of a process of re-inventing ourselves as teachers, they are 'living' rather than 'spectating' their contributions to educational knowledge. Their research methods are being created from the inside of educational practice itself. The nature of their methodological inventiveness is being clarified in the course of its emergence in the practice of their enquiry.
Any research account of an educational practice must make sense to the reader if it is to be judged as a contribution to educational knowledge. What I mean by making sense is that the account has a logic in that the reader can comprehend the form that the reasoning is taking. Hence my interest in the logic of educational enquiry. I now want to consider in the fourth question the evidence that a logic of educational enquiry is also emerging from s-step research.
- Is there evidence of a logic of educational enquiry?
Significance of the question
My concern with the logic of education began in 1970 while studying the philosophy of education. The following statements from two of my professors of philosophy will serve to highlight the need to exercise a philosophical imagination in developing a logic of s-step enquiries of the kind, 'How do I improve what I am doing?'.
It is the purpose of this book to show the ways in which a view of education must impose such a structure on our practical decisionsÉ..The thesis of this book, therefore, has relevance at a time when there is much talk of 'integrated studies'. For one of the problems about 'integration' is to understand the way in which 'wholeness' can be imposed on a collection of disparate enquiriesÉÉ. All it attempts to do is to sketch the ways in which this conception of education must impose its stamp on the curriculum, teaching, relationships with pupils, authority structure of the school or college community. (Hirst & Peters, pp. 15/16 1970).
The logic of education which structured their 'disciplines' approach to educational theory, led its proponents to impose a conceptual structure on practical decisions, to impose wholeness on disparate entities and to impose its stamp on the curriculum. As s-step enquiries that are directed at improvement appear to be open to the possibilities that life itself permits, I felt the need for a different logic of education to one that imposed such structures on the practical activities of s-step researchers. I needed a logic of educational enquiry.
In distinguishing what counts as evidence in s-step accounts in terms of their contributions to a logic of educational enquiry I have been influenced by the following ideas from Gadamer and Collingwood. Without them I would not been able to distinguish what counts as evidence of a logic of enquiry. I have acknowledged this elsewhere (Whitehead, 1993).
Gadamer (1975, p.333) highlighted the importance of developing a logic of the question and drew my attention to Collingwood's (1939, pp.29-43) ideas on the logic of question and answer. Gadamer's ideas appealed to me because I could identify with his emphasis on the importance of forming a question. For Gadamer, questioning is a 'passion'. He says that questions press upon us when our experiences conflict with our preconceived opinions. He believes that the art of questioning is not the art of avoiding the pressure of opinion. Drawing on Plato's Seventh Letter, Gadamer distinguishes the unique character of the art of dialectic. He does not see the art of dialectic as the art of being able to win every argument. On the contrary, he says it is possible that someone who is practising the art of dialectic, i.e. the art of questioning and of seeking truth, comes off worse in the argument in the eyes of those listening to it. (Gadamer, 1975. p.330).
According to Gadamer, dialectic, as the art of asking questions, proves itself only because the person who knows how to ask questions is able to persist in his questioning. I see a characteristic of this persistence as being able to preserve one's openness to the possibilities which life itself permits. The art of questioning is that of being able to continue with one's questions. Gadamer refers to dialectic as the art of conducting a real conversation.
" To conduct a conversationÉ. requires that one does not try to out-argue the other person, but that one really considers the weight of the other's opinion. Hence it is an art of testing. But the art of testing is the art of questioning. For we have seen that to question means to lay open, to place in the open. As against the solidity of opinions, questioning makes the object and all its possibilities fluid. A person who possesses the 'art' of questioning is a person who is able to prevent the suppression of questions by the dominant opinion.... Thus the meaning of a sentence is relative to the question to which it is a reply (my emphasis) , i.e. it necessarily goes beyond what is said in it. The logic of the human sciences is, then, as appears from what we have said a logic of the question. Despite Plato we are not very ready for such a logic." (pp. 330-333)
I was shocked by this last sentence. What could it mean? Despite Plato we are not very ready for a logic of question and answer. I read on with increasing excitement to the point where Gadamer states that R.G. Collingwood developed the idea of a logic of question and answer, but unfortunately did not develop it systematically before he died. I found myself in complete accord with the following ideas of Collingwood (1939, Chpt5. Question and Answer) on the relationship between a dialectical, or question and answer form, and the propositional form,
"I began by observing that you cannot find out what a man means by simply studying his spoken or written statements, even though he has spoken or written with perfect command of language and perfectly truthful intention. In order to find out his meaning you must also know what the question was (a question in his own mind, and presumed by him to be in yours) to which the thing he has said or written was meant as an answer(p.31).....
Here I parted company with what I called propositional logic, and its offspring the generally recognized theories of truth. According to propositional logic (under which denomination I include the so-called 'traditional' logic, the 'idealistic' logic of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and the 'symbolic' logic of the nineteenth and twentieth) truth or falsehood, which are what logic is chiefly concerned with, belongs to propositions as such (p.33-34)ÉÉ
I accept and live with Collingwood's point below that there is an intimate and mutual dependence between theory and practice, 'thought depending upon what the thinker learned by experience in action, action depending upon how he thought of himself and the world'. I also accept the implications of working in education as a vocation in the sense that education, as a value-laden practical activity places a responsibility on the educator to live values of humanity in practice.
These assumptions are open to challenge. They will not be abandoned lightly but have been opened up for your criticism because of my commitment to a view of research-based professionalism in education in which it is a responsibility of the researcher to submit her or his work to public tests of validity. I relate this commitment to Macintyre's view that, the rival claims to truth of contending traditions of enquiry depend for their vindication upon the adequacy and the explanatory power of the histories which the resources of each of those traditions in conflict enable their adherents to write. (Macintyre, 1988, p. 403).
Evidence from s-step research
It may be too early to talk of s-step research as a 'tradition of enquiry'. Yet, there is evidence that this research is contributing a logic of educational enquiry to educational knowledge . What evidence am I referring to?
Because contradiction has such a central place in the 2,500 year old arguments between philosophers about the validity of dialectical and formal logics, I want to focus on the evidence that s-step researchers have embraced the inclusion of 'I' as a living contradiction in accounts of their learning. I also want to focus on the evidence from s-step researchers that can be used to criticise my claims about the significance of their
contributions to a logic of educational enquiry.
Another former President and Founder Member of S-STEP, Mary Lynn Hamilton (2001), has described the data and evidence she has used in researching her life of learning as a university academic who is living her contradictions. The contradictions are focused on the value of social justice. As Director of the Redesign Initiative for the Teacher Education Division at the University of Kansas, she worked with colleagues to support social justice in theory:
However, when pressed into the actual undertaking, we stepped back. We needed to take ownership of our own privileges and prejudices. Because white people often do not recognize their own biases, we needed to probe issues of white privilege and racism and ask ourselves critical questions about our own behaviour (Hamilton, p.30, 2001).
Hamilton recorded her academic experiences in letters, journals, e-mail communiqus, interviews, field notes and observations. Over some three years she worked with colleagues in writing a mission statement, a conceptual framework, a Program plan, and a curriculum framework. She describes the data she draws on for the evidential claims in her analysis:
To document this self-study, I drew on notes written during meetings, documents created during our work, informal interviews with colleagues, and communiqus among colleagues. Colleagues external to my institution also served as critical friends and offered important comparisons. These data sources helped me identify and consider aspects of the process, particularly the aspects of our living contradictions. In reviewing the data, I attempted to escape taking an unrestrained approach to exploring my perspective." (Hamilton, 2001, p.22)
Evidence of further contributions to a logic of educational enquiry grounded in living contradictions in 'I' enquiries is provided by the legitimation of the following doctorates by the University of Bath.
Eames, K. (1995) How do I, as a teacher and educational action-researcher, describe and explain the nature of my professional knowledge?
(One of the points of note about Eames' work, is that as Schon (1995) was writing about the possibility of creating a new epistemology for the new scholarship, Eames (1995) constructed an epistemology of practice for the new scholarship).
Bosher, M. (2001) How can I, as an educator and Professional Development Manager working with teachers, support and enhance the learning and achievement of pupils in a whole school improvement process?
Delong, J. (2002) How Can I Improve My Practice As A Superintendent of Schools and Create My Own Living Educational Theory?
Each of these researchers, acknowledges their existence as a living contradiction in enquiries of the kind, 'how do I improve what I am doing?' The logics of their educational enquiries emerged in their accounts of their life of enquiry as they live their contradictions (Hamilton, 2001), as they form their questions and as they produce their accounts of their learning.
In living their contradictions s-step researchers can clarify the meanings of the spiritual, aesthetic, ethical and other values they embody in their practice. In the course of this clarification they can transform the embodied values into living and communicable standards of judgement. In saying this I think it bears repeating that I am accepting Lather's notion of ironic validity in the sense that s-step accounts can be seen as a representation of its failure to represent what it point towards but can never reach (Lather, 1994) in the embodied knowledge itself. I am thinking in particular about a failure to represent the meanings of the spiritual and aesthetic values which are embodied in educative relations and that can be used as explanatory principles of educational influence. I am relating to failure in the positive sense that it connects with a motivation to get closer to the meanings.
In making these points, I do not want to avoid the uncomfortable evidence from s-step researchers that shows I might be mistaken.
Taking the contents page of Improving Teacher Education Practices Through Self-Study (Loughran & Russell, 2002) at face value, it might appear that there was no evidence that these s-step researchers were contributing to a logic of educational enquiry from the ground of living their lives as living contradictions and by engaging in educational enquiries of the kind, How do I improve what I am doing'.
Of the 16 contributions three chapter headings are in the form of questions. Tom Russell asks, Can self-study improve teacher-education? Charles Myers asks, Can self-study challenge the belief that telling, showing, and guided practice constitute adequate teacher education? Linda May Fitzgeral, Joan Farstad and Deborah Deemer ask, What gets 'mythed' in the student evaluations of their teacher education professors?
These questions are in a form recognised in traditional scholarly discourse as being asked at a level of linguistic generality that does not commit the researcher, through including their own 'I' in their question, to explore the implications of asking a self-study question in relation to their own life and work. This is definitely not saying that these self-study researchers have not engaged in self-study. It is to say that the ways they form their questions do not explicitly focus on a self-study of their own educational practice in a way that would support my point about the contributions of self-study to a logic of educational enquiry. The chapter headings of the other 13 contributions are not in the form of a question and conform even more closely to a traditional scholarly canon for reporting research findings that remove the enquiring 'I' from the heading. In his excellent contribution, Joe Senese does include 'I' in his heading, 'Opposites attract: what I learned about being a classroom teaching by being a teacher educator'.
In speculating about the reasons for the removal or omission of the enquiring 'I' from the heading of an s-step account I am drawn to Lyotard's notion of terrorism and Bourdieu's notion of the habitus.
Lyotard writes about 'terror' in relation to repression of ideas by institutions of knowledge. I have certainly felt the disciplinary power of my university in ways which resonate with Lyotard's analysis (Whitehead, 1993).
For Lyotard countless scientists who have put forward original points of view have seen their 'move' ignored or repressed, sometimes for decades, because it too abruptly destabilized the accepted positions, not only in the university and scientific hierarchy, but also in the problematic. He believes that the stronger the 'move' the more likely it is to be denied the minimum consensus, precisely because it changes the rules of the game upon which the consensus has been based. He refers to behaviours that deny the minimum consensus as terrorist. By terror he means the efficiency gained by eliminating, or threatening to eliminate a player from the language game one shares with him or her. He or she is silenced or consents, not because the ideas have been refuted, but because his or her ability to participate has been threatened. He says that The decision makers' arrogance, which in principle has no equivalent in the sciences, consists of the exercise of terror. It says: "Adapt your aspirations to our ends - or else". (Lyotard, 1984, p.64)
I suspect that the power of what Bourdieu refers to as the habitus is at work in omitting or removing the enquiring 'I' from the heading of s-step accounts. I will explain Bourdieu's idea of the habitus below when considering the evidence of influence in the education of social formations. At the present time I prefer using the concept of habitus, over any other concept, to explain why the enquiring 'I' is removed from the heading of an s-step account. I am open to the evidence that can show me a more valid explanation. In relation to the evidence described above, I think it is sufficient for me to justify my claim that it show that s-step researchers have contributed to a logic of educational enquiry. There is also evidence showing that s-step researchers may prefer to remain with the traditional, propositional logic of scholarly discourse.
Given that no contributor to one of the most recent texts from s-step researchers has presented their contribution as an 'I' enquiry it may appear that I am being premature in claiming that s-step researchers have provided evidence of contributing to a logic of question and answer from the ground of living contradictions and educational 'I' enquiries of the kind, 'how do I improve what I am doing?' Yet, I do wonder if I am correct about the significance of the evidence provided by researchers such as Erica Holley (1997) in her, 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? You might like to check the validity of my claim that the evidence in the research degrees of the self-study researchers listed above, with their 'I' enquiries and with their explorations of the implications of living their contradictions in enquiries of the kind, 'How do I improve my practice?' have established 'efficient practices' that have preceded the explication of their logics of educational enquiry. I am thinking of an understanding of logics of education that are open to the possibilities that life itself permits without closing down the enquiries through the use of a logic that requires the imposition of structure, integration and wholeness.
Having considered evidence of contributions to educational theory, values-based standards of judgement, methodology and logic now I want to turn to my last, perhaps most important, question about the evidence of educational influence. I say most important because the self-study of teacher education practices is focused on improvement. For the teacher-educator working with a student to improve learning, it is important to understand the growth of the student's educational knowledge.
Because everything that we do can be seen to be influenced by the social formations in which we are living, the extension of one's cognitive range and concerns in understanding these influences can be a part of the individual's educational development. Learning to enhance one's influence in the education of such social formations can also be part of this educational development. Hence the final question:
- Is there evidence of educational influence in educating oneself, in the learning of others and in the education of social formations?
Significance of the question
My focus on 'educational influence' in relation to evidence in s-step research is because of my point of view that I cannot claim to have educated anyone other than myself, but that I can claim to have had an educational influence in the learning of others and in the learning of social formations. The reason that I don't think that I can claim to have directly educated anyone is because I acknowledge the importance of each individual's originality of mind and critical judgement in their own education. For me to recognise learning as educational in relation to my influence whatever I do in my educational practices has to be mediated through the originality of mind and critical judgement of the learner. Hence my emphasis on the importance of evidence of educational influence in s-step research.
The significance of focusing on evidence of educational influence was highlighted for me by Edward Said's engagement with the ideas of influence in relation to an open field of possibility from the poet Valery's "Letter About Mallarme":
No word comes easier of oftener to the critic's pen than the word influence, and no vaguer notion can be found among all the vague notions that compose the phantom armory of aesthetics. Yet there is nothing in the critical field that should be of greater philosophical interest or prove more rewarding to analysis than the progressive modification of one mind by the work of another. (Valery, 1972, p. 241)
Said points out that Valery converts 'influence' from a crude idea of the weight of one writer coming down in the work of another into a universal principle of what he calls 'derived achievement'. He describes a complex process of repetition, refinement, amplification, loading, overloading, rebuttal, overturning, destruction, denial, invisible use, as completely modifying a linear (vulgar) idea of 'influence' into an open field of possibility. (Said, p.15)
In the process of educating oneself, in influencing the education of others and in influencing the education of social formations, the s-step researcher is faced with the choice of what to bring into this 'open field of possibility'. Such choices are likely to define the quality of the contribution the s-step researcher makes to the growth of educational knowledge. My own choices are in the following questions.
Is there evidence of educating oneself in s-step research?
One of the great strengths of the s-step movement in relation to the growth of educational knowledge is that the evidence that shows that the studies do focus on the learning of the s-step researcher. This extensive, accumulated evidence has emerged from some ten years activity by contributors to S-STEP of AERA. Because of the extent of this evidence the above question is much easier to answer than the next question about the influence of the s-step reseacher in the education of others. To see the extent of the evidence on the education of the s-step researcher, one has only to look at the collections of papers from s-step researchers in the conference proceedings of the four S-STEP Conferences at Herstmonceaux Castle supported by Queens University. Space does not permit the analysis of the learning of contributors to two or more of these conferences to show the growth of their knowledge over time. Access to this evidence using the web is from http://educ.queensu.ca/~ar/sstep.html .
Further evidence of the extent of the learning of the learning of s-step researchers is in the books and articles produced by s-step researchers. This Handbook, with the impressive lists of references to the accounts of s-step researchers refers to much of this evidence. I want to distinguish the evidence produced by Karen Guilfoyle, Mary Lynn Hamilton, Peggy Placier and Tom Russell on their own learning as teacher-educators in the 1995 Special Issue of The Teacher Education Quarterly on Self-Study and Living Educational Theory. From the forming of the S-STEP SIG of AERA in 1993 these teacher-educators have sustained their enquiries into their own learning and have unique portfolios of evidence of their growth of educational. knowledge.
Jerry Allender's (2001) s-step research into his practice of humanistic education can also be distinguished as an original contribution to educational knowledge. What is unique in Allender's self-study is that he combines a contribution to the growth of educational knowledge with a contribution to Gestalt Theory for teachers. For Allender, humanistic research requires a creative investigative structure that frames the inquiry, even if the structure shifts in the process. He sees it as a framework that invites and stimulates reflection with built-in concerns for honesty and empowerment with the opportunity for everyone to have an expressive voice. His goal is to connect idealism, practicality, and people in an interconnected web of respect flowing in every direction. Allender uses the methods of narrative inquiry to study his teacher self. The evidence in his text shows that he justifies the following claims:
"Stories written by students about their experiences in my classes were interwoven with stories of my reflections. I became aware of problems and imagined new possibilities. My teaching changedÉ.. As a result, the students changed too. They became more articulate. The stories affected subsequent classes by giving support for the stronger expression of voice. With a flow of respect between teacher and students, and among students, supportive communities developed in which, though we certainly didn't all agree, there was an increased interest in listening what others had to say. Empowerment and relationship grew hand in handÉÉ This text begins with the structure of a semester; moves through the stories, which are interrupted at the midpoint for a discussion of concepts that gird the stories; and concludes with an underlying Gestalt theory" (Allender, 2001, pp. 2-3)
Good evidence of the originality and depth of the education of the s-step researcher is also in the research degrees of s-step researchers described in this chapter.
The evidence in the work of Jean McNiff also deserves special mention. The passion and sustained commitment shown by Jean to self-studies of her teacher education practices have influenced practitioner-researchers around the world. Since offering her explanation for her own educational development in her doctoral thesis (1989) Jean's publications have shown the growth in her educational knowledge. She has provided the evidence of this growth through self-studies of her teacher-education practices in tutoring masters and doctoral programmes, in pedagogising living theory texts in the curriculum of teacher education programmes, and in bringing teacher-educators together in areas of conflict such as Ireland, Israel and Palestine. Being able to access this evidence at http://www.jeanmcniff.com , and appreciate the achievements of this remarkable educator and s-step researchers is a constant source of inspiration for my own productive life in education.
Is there evidence of influencing the education of others in s-step research?
In many ways this evidence is the most interesting. What I mean by this is that in teacher-education practices, the teacher educator has a responsibility to seek to influence the education of his or her students. If the evidence of an educational influence is to be presented in the student's own voice and narrative of their learning, this has implications for the development of a view of an educational relationship as a form of co-enquiry. I am thinking of an enquiry in which both teacher educator and student can explore the implications of asking, researching and answering questions of the kind, 'How do I improve my practice?'.
For example, Karen Collins is a member of a school-based teacher-researcher group at Westwood St. Thomas School in the South West of England. She has received a merit (Collins, 2003) from her examiners for her Educational Enquiry Module, 'How can I effectively manage students' learning to take account of self-assessment within Modern Foreign Languages?' Collins is engaging with her enquiries in a way that shows her responses to her students as she takes into account their self-assessments of their own learning.
Delong and Black (2002) have edited a collection of accounts of self-studies of teacher-education practices that focus on student's learning. The evidence for this focus can be seen in the enquiring 'I' titles such as:
Anita Richer: How can I more effectively teach my primary students to communicate their learning in math with greater confidence; namely to express their learning clearly, using pictures, numbers and words?
George Neeb: What can I do to improve students' reflective writing using electronic portfolios?
Jackie Delong and Heather Knill-Griesser: How do we integrate issues of power and ethics in valid explanations of our educative influence as a teacher-consultant and superintendent?
Cheryl Black: How can I improve my ability to balance my elementary school administrative role with my assigned teaching load to adequately meet the needs of other people as well as my own?
Is there evidence of influencing the education of social formations in s-step research?
In looking at the evidence of influence in the education of social formations I have been influenced by Bourdieu's analysis of social formations and the role of the habitus in reproducing these formations. Bourdieu points out that paradoxically, 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. He says that this paradox is because of the constancy of the objective conditions over time, rules have a particularly small part to play in the determination of practices. He says that this is largely entrusted to the automatisms of the habitus. (Bourdieu, 1990, p. 145).
For Bourdieu the habitus, a product of history, produces individual and collective practices - more history - in accordance with the schemes generated by history. He says that it ensures the active presence of past experiences, which, deposited in each organism in the form of schemes of perception, thought and action, tend to guarantee the 'correctness' of practices and their constancy over time, more reliably than all formal rules and explicit norms. (p. 54).
I imagine, maybe mistakenly, that the omission or removal of the enquiring 'I' from the headings of s-step accounts is a product of the habitus in the Academy. My own interest in the education of social formations is focused on the learning of these formations as they are changed and transformed into better social orders through the living educational theories of their citizens.
At this point I am drawn to Susan Noffke's powerful criticism of self-study/ action research as seeming 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, 1997, p. 329)
As a member of the scholarly community of S-STEP I think that I have a responsibility to search for evidence that can support or refute such criticism in terms of the education of social formations. I think the evidence in Hamilton's self-study answers Noffke's criticism. Hamilton provides evidence of an engagement with living contradictions between valuing social justice and denying social justice in practice while seeking to live more fully the values of social justice:
As I asked myself hard questions, I looked to find answers that did not evade honesty. I returned to my notes, to the literature, and the meeting minutes to jolt and challenge my initial responses. My concern about the possibility of institutional racism seemed verified. When I informally interviewed colleagues, they stated with certainty that racism was not involved. However, the content of the discussions during the meetings could not be avoided. As I reviewed the minutes of the meeting, the evidence seemed clear. Since we worked with our select study body, we apparently felt that our students did not need to explicitly concern themselves with issues of social justice. The data seemed to indicate that, from our perspective, our students would select suburbia for employment after Program completion. From my review of the data collected, we seemed to be living our contradiction - acting in a socially unjust way when we discussed issues of social justice. (Hamilton, p. 27, 2001)
Russell (2001) also provides evidence of his engagement with issues of power and privilege in an attempt to establish the significance of the authority of experience within a teacher education programme. He shows how the power relations within the social formation of a university helped to eliminate an existing educational innovation in a teacher education curriculum. The innovative curriculum was designed to support self-study. Russell's study shows just how much work is yet to be done in educating social formations as to the validity of s-step research. It also shows the evidence that s-step researchers can engage with power and privilege in society in relation to experiential knowledge and identity.
Perhaps the best evidence of an s-step researcher influencing the education of social formations has been presented by Jackie Delong (2002) in her thesis, How can I improve my practice as a superintendent of schools and create my own living educational theory?
Delong has enquired into her systems' influence. While President of the Ontario Educational Research Council in 2002, Delong graduated with her doctorate for her five year self-study into her teacher-educator practices and her educational leadership as a Superintendent of Schools of the Grand Erie District School Board in Ontario. Her doctorate included images of her relationships with the individuals she worked with to emphasise the significance of her personal value of relationship in her professional practice. It included images of works of art to communicate her spiritual connection to a life-affirming passion for education. The evidence from her analysis of her influence on policy shows how Delong influenced the growth of a culture of enquiry within a School Board. This demonstration included the self-study accounts of numerous teachers in the Board (Delong & Black, 2002). It also included the evidence of how her educational leadership influenced the management of this innovation. The OERC award in December 2000 for leadership in action research acknowledged this contribution.
What I have noticed within recent publications from s-step researchers is the evidence that knowledge-claims are becoming more participatory (Reason and Bradbury, 2001) in the sense that concerns and enquiries are shared with others. In support of this I am drawn to Dadds' 'we' questions:
If we choose to write together with those we support, what challenges do we face as we attempt to represent a partnership ethic in collaborative publications? How is a collaborative text composed? How do we handle differences of perspective, meaning, style, preferred genre? How is the 'final say' achieved? What processes do we establish to ensure the most democratic and representative end texts possible? (Dadds, p.50, 1998).
Somekh and Thaler (1997, p. 158) also stress the importance of participatory research, in which dialogue and discussion between the participants are central to the process of defining commonly-accepted research questions (the 'we' questions). I agree with their point that to succeed in this difficult endeavour, of breaking down established routines of interaction and what, in effect, are taboos established by the culture and traditions of the group, it is essential to have an understanding of the multiple nature of the many 'selves' involved.
And as Day has rightly pointed out in his work on the different selves of teachers
there is still limited evidence of action research which combines both the story, the different selves of the teacher, the action and change. (Day, 1998, p.272)
Closing this chapter on what counts as evidence in the self-study of teacher-education practices brought to mind a quotation from A.N. Whitehead about imagination and it brought to mind the most challenging question I have been asked as an s-step researcher, by Paul Murray (Murray & Whitehead, 2000) a former doctoral student and a mixed race educator:
Where is the evidence of the critical engagement with the ideas of critical race theorists, critical non-racial theorists and post-colonial theorists in the formation of the identities and practices of individuals you are working with? Where is the evidence of your influence in respect of alerting them to enhancing the quality of their work by making themselves familiar with these epistemologies? (Why should you/they when they can get their PhDs/do their AR writing without making reference to their critical knowledge?) (Murray, 2003)
Having doctoral students who ask their supervisors such questions does not make for an unreflective life. Yet, taking such questions seriously in enquiries of the kind, 'How do I improve my practice?' offers the possibility that the s-step researcher will be able to look back on a life of inquiry (Marshall, 1999) that has focused on living values of humanity more fully. It is something that the s-step researchers I work with appear to be dedicated, through their critical questioning, to making sure that this is something I can look forward to! As Whitehead says:
"Imagination is a contagious disease. It cannot be measured by the yard, or weighed by the pound, and then delivered to the students by members of the faculty. It can only be communicated by a faculty whose members wear their learning with imaginationÉ.. The whole art in the organisation of a university is the provision of a faculty whose learning is lighted up with imagination. This is the problem of problems in university education." (Whitehead, A.N., 1929, p. 146 )
In the ten years since the formation of the S-STEP SIG of AERA, s-step researchers have exercised their imaginations in making significant contributions to the growth of educational knowledge. These contributions include their educational theories, their living, values-based standards of judgement, their methodological inventiveness, their logics of educational enquiry and their accounts of their educational influences.
Where does my imagination take me as I speculate about some of the future possible contributions of s-step communities of educational researchers to the evidential base of educational knowledge? I am thinking of contributions related to inclusional ways of being, to contributions that combine learning circles with action research and to contributions that focus on the pedagogisation of the living theories of self-study researchers with the help of web-technologies. I am also thinking of the influence of post-colonial theory and ecological feminism as well as ideas of sustainable development in the growth of educational knowledge of s-step researchers.
Rayner (2002, a&b) has provided a way of understanding inclusional ways of listening to dissonant voices in self-study research. In Rayner's view, inclusionality recognises that the unique identity of each researcher is constructed within a network of relationships with others. It enables us to see all 'things', including ourselves, not as isolated, independent bodies, but rather as 'dynamic inclusions' - interdependent embodiments - that are connected through boundaries. For Rayner, these boundaries are both co-created by and give identity to 'one another', making them distinct - recognizable - but not discrete - alone.
I imagine that Leong's synthesis of learning circles and action research in Singapore will connect with Rayner's notion of inclusionality to extend the contributions of s-step researchers to the education of individuals and social formations on a global scale. Leong, (1991) and Leong and Hong (2003) have presented web-based evidence in photographs, videotapes, feedback from students and colleagues, as well as their articulation of their experiences in a report on the development of learning circles combined with action research approaches, in the Academy of Best Practices in Learning (ABLE, 2002) at the Institute of Education in Singapore:
Adler-Collins (2003) at Fukuoka University in Japan, is extending the notion of the self-study of teacher-education practices to include the pedagogisation (Bernstein, 2002) of the healing nurse curriculum. The multi-media evidence of his assessment practices and the processes of transforming his embodied knowledge as a healing nurse into a healing nurse curriculum, through a self-study of his teacher-education practices can be accessed from http://www.living-action-research.net . Farren (2003) has developed insights into a pedagogy of the unique through her use of web-technologies at Dublin City University.
I imagine that Adler-Collins' use of web-based communications will connect with Farren's use of web-technology for developing a pedagogy of the unique and with Laidlaw's contribution to exploring the value of s-step research in sustainable development in Guyuan Teachers College in China (Laidlaw, 2003). I imagine that the next ten years of s-step activity will take more seriously post-colonial theory and ecological feminism. In relation to ecological feminism I am thinking of the shift of attitude from 'arrogant perception' to the 'loving eye' as being worthy of integration into s-step 'I' enquiries:
When one climbs a rock as a conqueror, one climbs with an arrogant eye. When one climbs with a loving eye, one constantly 'must look and listen and check and questionÉ. One knows 'the boundary of the self,' where the self - the 'I', the climber - leaves off and the rock begins. There is no fusion of two into one, but a complement of two entities, acknowledged as separate, different, independent, yet in relationship; they are in relationship if only because the loving eye is perceiving it, responding to it, noticing it, attending to it. ( Warren, 2001, p. 331)
ÉÉ with the construction of whiteness having been a colonial project, discriminatory and racist, the ethical imperative - necessary participation in a liberatory project - is that of affiliation with Africa. Coming to terms with these facts is one of the most important and difficult challenges for coloured people. Coloured black and African ways of being do not have to be mutually exclusive. There are ways of being coloured that allow participation in a liberatory and anti-racist project. The key task is to develop these. (Erasmus, 2001, p.16).
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