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Professional Life and Work

Studying Teachers' Lives

Studying Teachers' Lives - an emergent field of study

The problem is well stated in the following section where Denzin argued that a dual myth is perpetuated:

The life story project, with its roots in the Chicago School suffers, then, from the following flaws. It presupposes a body of textual work that keeps the private/public division alive and well. Two myths are perpetuated. First, that urban, modern man, woman and child have enclaves of privacy that the complex urban society cannot touch. Second, the skilled ethnographer-biographer can make sense of these worlds and in so doing bring to life the sacred inner worlds of experience of the oppressed subject. Such work will then show that the inner/private life endows the subject with the cherished values of democracy, namely honor, pride, individualism, heroism and dignity in the face of great obstacles.
But in making the sacred visible, in a pornography of excess which leaves no secret uncovered, the biographical text, in a single, swift stroke, erases the boundaries between the public and the private while it ceremonializes that which it has just exposed. In so doing it perpetuates the myth that the private life and its inner meanings still exists. But in practice this is no longer the case. Our methods have severed the boundaries between the public and the private. Unwittingly, we have made the personal political. However we have failed to articulate a politics that takes this position seriously, for a moral and social theory of democracy can no longer presume a sacred sphere of social life.
In making the personal public the biographer follows a textual politics which valorizes the subjects in question. This heroic gesture diverts attention away from the social structures that have done the oppression. It shifts, that is, attention away from the structure and makes the individual the focus of attention. At the same time it tells their story within a framework that conforms to publicly acceptable conceptions of persons, their lives and the meanings of these lives. These conceptions are embedded in Western literary conventions and have been present since the invention of the biographical form.[i]

[i] ibid., pp. 3-4.

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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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