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Professional Life and Work

Studying Teachers' Lives

Studying Teachers' Lives - an emergent field of study

Studying teachers' lives will, I suspect, never become mainstream, for such study seeks to understand and to give voice to an occupational group that have been historically marginalized. Yet, as a group, teachers retain considerable power, and as is often the
case much truth resides in the margins. This mode of study will undoubtedly contribute to the understanding of the educational endeavour but the use of such study has to be patrolled with extraordinary care.

Studying Teachers' Lives provides insights into the deeply intimate and personal aspects of identity. Plainly, all too plainly, such data could be misused by those who employ, manage, control and direct teachers. Several of the chapters deal with this issue and, in the end piece, I shall return to the questions of collaboration and ethical procedures.

Researching teachers' lives is an enterprise fraught with danger but the alternative is, I think, more dangerous: to continue in substantial ignorance of those people who, in spite of the many historical shifts and cycles, remain central to achievement in the educational endeavour.

The study of teachers' lives depends for its viability and desirability upon teachers themselves. They initially control most of the important data and all those involved in such study must ensure that they continue throughout the process to exercise control and to be actively involved in the negotiation and production of reports. If this is successfully accomplished, we may be developing an important new field for collaborative inquiry. For it remains clear that, in the accounts they give about life in schools, teachers constantly refer to personal and biographical factors. From their point of view, it would seem that professional practices are embedded in wider life concerns. We need to listen closely to their views on the relationship between 'school life' and 'whole life' for in that dialectic crucial tales about careers and commitments will be told. It remains true that the balance of commitment between teaching and life may be precariously affected by educational cuts and changes in public esteem. Studying teachers' lives helps us monitor this most crucial of all equations. 

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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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