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Professional Life and Work

Studying Teachers' Lives

Studying Teachers' Lives - problems and possibilities

It should be noted that, given the nature of the academy, this is a division of labour not without convenience for us as academic researchers. Moreover I wonder how it would deal with Measor and Sikes's nonsense account (see p. 220).

The relationship of studies of teachers' lives to the academy sits, I believe, at the centre of one of the major ethical and methodological issues facing this work. Of course, views of the academy cover a wide spectrum from a belief in its role in the 'disinterested pursuit of knowledge' through to the assertion of the Situationist International that 'The intelligentsia is power's hall of mirrors.' In general, I would take a position which stresses the interestedness rather than disinterestedness of the academy. I see a good deal of empirical evidence that David Tripp's contention in this matter may be correct for he argues that: 'When a research method gains currency and academic legitimacy, it tends to be transformed to serve the interests of the academy[i].

Becker has commented on the 'hierarchy of credibility regarding those to whom we tend to listen'. This has general relevance to our research on schooling and school systems and specifically to our desire to listen to the teacher's voice.

In any system of ranked groups, participants take it as given that members of the highest group have the right to define the way things really are. In any organization, no matter what the rest of the organization chart shows, the arrows indicate the flow of information point up, thus demonstrating (at least formally) that those at the top have access to a more complete picture of what is going on than ,anyone else. Members of lower groups will have incomplete information and their view of reality will be partial and distorted in consequence. Therefore, from the point of view of a well socialized participant in the system, any tale told by those at the top intrinsically deserves to be regarded as the most credible account obtainable of the organizations' workings[ii].

[i] Tripp, D. 'Teacher autobiography and classroom practice', Western Australia: Murdoch University, mimeo, p. 2.

[ii] Becker, H.S. (1970) Sociological Work: Method and Substance, Chicago: Aldine, p. 126.

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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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