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Professional Life and Work

Studying Teachers' Lives

Studying Teachers' Lives - an emergent field of study

In one sense the project of 'studying teachers' lives' should represent an attempt to generate a counter-culture which will resist the tendency to 'return teachers to the shadows'; a counter- culture based upon a research mode that above all takes teachers seriously and seeks to listen to 'the teacher's voice'. 'The proposal I am recommending is essentially one of reconceptionalizing educational research so as to assure that the teacher's voice is heard, heard loudly, heard articulately [i].

A number of the chapters speak eloquently on this issue which
provides the overall rationale for this volume. Butt et al., for instance, argue that:

The notion of teacher's voice is important in that it carries the tone, the language, the quality, the feelings, that are conveyed by the way a teacher speaks or writes. In a political sense the notion of the teacher's voice addresses the right to speak and be represented. It can represent both the unique individual and the collective voice; one that is characteristic of teachers as compared to other groups (p.57).

The sponsoring of this kind of teacher's voice is thus counter-cultural in that it works against the grain of power/knowledge as held and produced by politicians and administrators.

Yet if the economic and political times are inauspicious, on the other side, the current 'postmodernist movement' provides an emergent climate of support, certainly at the level of research. Michel Foucault has been hugely influential in encouraging researchers to retrieve and represent the voices of their 'subjects'. Likewise, Carol Gilligan's superb work, In a Different Voice, exemplifies the power of representing the voices of women previously unheard. Above all the postmodern syntagm sponsors: 'The idea that all groups have a right to speak for themselves, in their own voice, and have that voice accepted as authentic and legitimate.'[ii] Beyond the general sponsorship of the teacher's voice the studies in this volume represent a range of other rationales for studying teachers' lives.

[i]. Goodson, I.F. (1991) 'Sponsoring the teacher's voice', Cambridge Journal of Education, Spring, p. 36, and in Fullan, M. and Hargreaves, A. (eds) Understanding Teacher Development, London: Cassells and New York: Teacher's College Press (forthcoming).

[ii] Harvey, D. (1989) The Condition of Postmodemity: An Inquiry into the Origin of Cultural Change, Oxford and Cambridge, Mass.: Blackwell, p. 48.

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Studying Teachers' Lives Ivor Goodson
  • Date of publication: 06/02/1992
  • Number of pages (as Word doc): 272
  • Publisher: Routledge
  • Subject:
    Professional Life and Work
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    Studying Teachers' Lives
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  • Price of book: £42.99
  • ISBN: 978-0-415-06858-1
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