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Professional Life and Work

Professional Knowledge, Professional Lives: studies in education and change

Educational Research as a Public Intellectual

With this new moral order let me return you to Lawrence Stenhouse's last lecture.  Here he asked the question whether learning and critical literacy should be confined to an elite.

Our system (he said) is notable for being in the power of those who do not commit their own children to it and it is accordingly vulnerable.  The powerful still do not favour the cultivation among the lower orders of the scepticism and critical intelligence that is valued among their betters.  It is for that reason that they point backwards to basics in the face of potential of the exciting curricula in literacy and numeracy and knowledge to be found in the recent curriculum movement, in the leading state schools and in the more enlightened private schools.
At stake is more than 100 years of adventure beyond the mere basics, a span in which schools have - fitfully no doubt - tried to make people independent thinkers capable of participation in the democratic process and of deciding what the future of their society shall be like.  Perhaps a faith in expansion and progress underlay that provision for the citizen.  We must now find ways of ensuring that a defensive, and more apprehensive, establishment in the context of a contracting economy does not make a critical education an education reserved for privilege (Simon, 1990, pp. 19-20).

In ending with Lawrence's quote, we see how our collective memory of a humane society continues to infuse our search for a new moral order for schooling and education.  There could be no greater legacy for Lawrence Stenhouse's continuing relevance and his life's work.


Thanks to Professor Barry MacDonald, Nigel Norris and Lorraine Faith for their help and advice in the preparation of the manuscript.

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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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    Professional Knowledge, Professional Lives: studies in education and change
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  • ISBN: 9780335204113
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