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Professional Life and Work

Studying Teachers' Lives

Studying Teachers' Lives - an emergent field of study

Again and again in this volume the testimonies expose the shallowness of the managerial, prescriptive view of schooling. It is, in truth, not difficult to see in whose interests the teacher's voice has been suppressed and in whose interests academics have embraced less 'curious' research modes. Louis Smith, a psychologist by training, concludes (p. 158):

Behavioural objectives, time on task, mastery learning, school effectiveness, are sounds that emanate from drums and drummers distant from the language and perspectives of the innovator we have studied and the language and theory we have chosen to couch our own interpretations and speculations.

Likewise, the studies in Chapter 3 provide eloquent testimony on this point. For instance, the examination of this point with regard to Lloyd who initially studied his curriculum guides like 'the Bible' speaks volumes. But perhaps the most eloquent epitaph for the believers in managerialism and prescriptions comes from the study of Glenda. 'The teachers' guide was closed and the students' workbooks were returned to the bookroom. The culture and knowledge within the classroom was infinitely more exciting' (p. 84). R.I.P., Q.E.D.

Another rationale for studying teachers' lives is evidenced in this book and develops from the literature on teacher socialization. One major tradition in this literature has designated the period of pre-service teaching training and early in-service teaching as the most formative socializing influence. An alternative tradition, however, has insisted with accelerating force that it is far more complicated than this. Many studies in the 19705 and 1980s have focused on the teachers own experience as pupils which is seen not only as important as the training periods but in many cases more important. (It should be noted that while this book focuses on teachers, it also argues that future work be conducted on pupils' lives and their relationship to their school experiences.) Dan Lortie refers to this pupil period as an 'apprenticeship of observation'. Teacher socialization, then, occurs through the observation and internalization of particular models of teaching as experienced by the recipient pupil. Lortie argues that these models, these latent models, are activated during the training period having often been, so to speak, 'carried in suspension' over a period of time, particularly the undergraduate years. One way to follow up on this alternative tradition in teacher socialization research requires that we examine those socializing influences relevant to the formation of the teacher over the full life experience.

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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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