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Professional Life and Work

Studying Teachers' Lives

Studying Teachers' Lives - problems and possibilities


This volume has grown from a conviction that we require more analytical and systematic studies of teachers' lives. Above all the conviction grows from the belief which I will re-state that 'in understanding something so intensely personal as teaching, it is critical we know about the person the teacher is'. Put this way it seems almost self evident, commonsensical, and so I believe it is, but the fact remains that we still have an underdeveloped literature on the personal, biographical and historical aspects of teaching. Particularly underdeveloped is a literature which locates the teachers' lives within a wider contextual understanding.

In an era of new reforms and attempts to restructure schools this literature becomes even more important. Studies of teachers' lives thereby re-assert the importance of the teacher: of knowing the teacher, of listening to the teacher and of speaking with the teacher. Such studies work against the grain of political process for, as I write, this week's New York Times defines the US system of education in this manner:

The current system of public education is built to control the schools from above. Politicians and bureaucrats are vested with authority to tell the schools what to do, and they are under constant pressure from constituents and interest groups to put that authority to use.

The implications for teachers and schools are clear:

The result is that schools are buried in policies, rules and regulations that specify what they are supposed to be doing and how they are supposed to be doing it. This destroys school autonomy and with it, the foundations for effective learning. As for management reform, it preserves the current system by giving principals and teachers 'new' powers that are actually highly circumscribed.[i]

[i] Reform can't be left to the education establishment', New York Times, 26 August 1990, p. 19.

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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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