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Professional Life and Work

Professional Knowledge, Professional Lives: studies in education and change

Educational Research as a Public Intellectual

It shows in graphic detail the problems for humanistic caring professionals of trying to stand in the same place.  At the beginning in the first frame, the health professional is inhabiting a humane microworld dispensing health service to all according to need - a vision of workaday socialist practice.  By the end, that work has been re-positioned into dispensing something else altogether.  So a nurse may be working on the same ward in the same hospital throughout the two decades of Tory reconstruction but by the end the positional significance of that work has been transformed.  One would tell similar stories of probation officers, social workers, comprehensive schoolteachers and indeed educational researchers.

But let me return to Lawrence Stenhouse and to CARE because it is here that we can interrogate some of the problems of positionality.

During the 1970s besides conducting a wide range of curriculum development and evaluation projects, CARE became a centre for defining educational research modalities in the public sphere.  I have argued that egalitarian social movements offered aid and sustenance to educational research pursing goals of social justice.  But now the downside of this overarching social movement has to be confronted.  For it is here we view the essential crisis of positionality.  What might in another sense be called the paradox of progressivism.

Being interlinked and embedded in a wider political project for social justice, for an education of inclusion, a schooling that would seek to empower and enlighten all sections of society produced its own blindnesses.  For as MacDonald notes: “We the innovators began under benign and supportive government and saw the problem largely as a technical one, under professional control” (MacDonald, 1991).

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Professional Knowledge, Professional Lives
  • Date of publication: 01/09/2003
  • Number of pages (as Word doc): 160
  • Publisher: Open University Press
  • Subject:
    Professional Life and Work
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  • Appears in:
    Professional Knowledge, Professional Lives: studies in education and change
  • Paperback
  • Price of book: £23.99
  • ISBN: 9780335204113
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