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Professional Life and Work

Studying Teachers' Lives

Studying Teachers' Lives - an emergent field of study

First, studying teachers' lives will provide a valuable range of insights into the new moves to restructure and reform schooling, into new policy concerns and directives. A number of the chapters address this 'crisis of reform' (see, for example, Butt et al: pp. 51-98) or more specifically 'crisis of prescription'. I have recently examined the importance and salience of the belief in curriculum as prescription (CAP):

CAP supports the mystique that expertise and control reside within central governments, educational bureaucracies or the university community. Providing nobody exposes this mystique, the two words of 'prescriptive rhetoric' and 'schooling as practice' can co-exist. Both sides benefit from such peaceful co-existence. The agencies of CAP are seen to be 'in control' and the schools are seen to be 'delivering' (and can carve out a good degree of autonomy if they accept the rules).

However, there is a substantial downside to this 'historic compromise':

There are costs of complicity in accepting the myth of prescription: above all these involve, in various ways, acceptance of established modes of power relations. Perhaps most importantly the people intimately connected with the day-to-day social construction of curriculum and schooling - teachers - are thereby effectively disenfranchised in the 'discourse of schooling'. To continue to exist, teachers' day-to-day power must remain unspoken and unrecorded. This is one price of complicity: day-to-day power and autonomy for schools and for teachers are dependent on continuing to accept the fundamental lie [i].

In addressing the crisis of prescription and reform, it becomes imperative that we find new ways to sponsor the teacher's voice.

[i] Goodson,I.F. (1900) 'Studying curriculum: towards a social constructionist perspective', Journal of Curriculum Studies, Vol. 22, No. 4, p. 300.

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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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  • Appears in:
    Studying Teachers' Lives
  • Paperback
  • Price of book: £42.99
  • ISBN: 978-0-415-06858-1
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