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Professional Life and Work

Studying Teachers' Lives

Studying Teachers' Lives - problems and possibilities

Second, the life operates at the intersection of context, as in issues of race and gender. For instance, as Gilligan and also Freccero have noted, while male life stories are recounted as orderly and linear, and concerned with conflict and authority, female life stories seen are often less concerned with linear striving and conflict.[i]

Third, the teacher's life operates at the intersection of life as experiences and life as text. The life account seeks to make the life textual. This rendition is profoundly problematic. Derrida, for instance, has examined this problematic through his concern with what he calls the metaphysics of presence. Building on this work, Denzin summarises the position thus:

There is no clear window into the inner life of a person, for any window is always filtered through the glaze of language, signs, and the process of signification. And language, in both it's written and spoken forms, is always inherently unstable, influx, and made up of the traces of other signs and symbolic statements. Hence, there can never be a clear, unambiguous statement of anything, including an intention or a meaning[ii].

At root, the relationship between life as lived and experienced and life as reported and rendered in text is distinctive. Within this constraint, the life account should be produced in a way which achieves as much harmony as is possible across these levels. When there is a sharp and evident disjuncture between life as lived and experienced and life history as reported and written, then we are witness to poorly conducted life studies.

[i] Freccero, J. (1986) 'Autobiography and narrative', pp. 1&-29 in Heller, T.C., Sosna, M. and Wellbery, D. A. (eds) Reconstructing Individualism: Autonomy, Individuality, in Western Thought, Stanford, CA.: Stanford University Press. See also Gilligan, C. (1982) In A Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Women's Development, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

[ii] Denzin, N.K. Interpretive Biography, P: 14.

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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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