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Professional Life and Work

Studying Teachers' Lives

Studying Teachers' Lives - an emergent field of study

As an example, Kathleen Casey's study (pp. 187-208) provides a valuable rationale for studying teachers' lives to understand the much discussed question of 'teacher drop-outs', She notes that a certain set of taken-for-granted assumptions control the way in which the problem of teacher attention has normally been defined; one which presumes managerial solutions. She notes how the language confirms this direction referring to 'teacher defection', 'teacher turnover' and 'supply and demand'.

This belief in managerialism and prescription is underpinned by the research methods employed within the academy. She finds that:

A limited number of research strategies have been employed in investigating this topic. Former members of the teaching profession have often been traced statistically, rather than in person, and information has typically been collected from such sources as district files, state departments of public instruction, or through researcher-conceived surveys (pp. 187-8).

The results of the research paradigms employed in the academy
have powerful implications for our understanding of the management of educational systems.

The particular configuration of selectivities and omissions which has been built into this research frame slants the shape of its findings. By systematically failing to record the voices of ordinary teachers, the literature on educators' careers actually silences them. Methodologically, this means that even while investigating an issue where decision-making is paramount, researchers speculate on teachers' motivations, or at best, survey them with a set of forced-choice options. Theoretically what emerges is an instrumental view of teachers, one in which they are reduced to objects which can be manipulated for particular ends. Politically, the results are educational policies constructed around institutionally convenient systems of rewards and punishments, rather than in congruence with teachers' desire to create significance in their lives (p. 188).
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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
  • Available in:
  • Appears in:
    Studying Teachers' Lives
  • Paperback
  • Price of book: £42.99
  • ISBN: 978-0-415-06858-1
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