By Ivor Goodson
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Additional resources for Professional Knowledge, Professional Lives (Professional Learning)
But the end of the Second World War did not provide an end to politics, only a move from hot war to cold war. As we know, ideologies continued their contest in the most potentially deadly manner. During this period, narratives of personal life began to blossom. Brightman (see Sage 1994) has Representing teachers: bringing teachers back in 31 developed a fascinating picture of how Mary McCarthy’s personal narratives grew out of the witch-hunting period of Joe McCarthy. Her narratives moved us from the ‘contagion of ideas’ to the personal ‘material world’.
Storying and narratology are genres which allow us to move beyond (or to the side of) the main paradigms of inquiry – with their numbers, variables, psychometrics, psychologisms and decontextualized theories. The new genres have the potential for advancing educational research in representing the lived experience of schooling (Goodson and Hargreaves 1996; Goodson and Sikes 2001). Because of this substantial potential, the new genres require very close scrutiny. For while they have some obvious strengths, there are, I think, some weaknesses which may prove incapacitating.
Classroom teachers were taught how to reflect on their teaching, on pupil learning, on the structure and organization of schools, to question educational assumptions and to understand how sexism and racism operated in the classroom. (Taylor 1987: 14) These courses then enshrined the ‘theoretical mission’ of university study as well as practical preparation. But the theoretical mission should not be divorced from the assumption of practical effect. At its best, theory works back into informed and improved practice.