Practitioner Inquiry: Shifting role of teachers from consumers to producers of knowledge

Year: 2016

Author: Jhagroo, Jyoti

Type of paper: Refereed paper

As a supervisor of practitioner-based inquiry at postgraduate level in the Master of teaching and learning programme, I explore the concept of practitioner inquiry and its implications for the teacher as researcher in the teaching and learning context. Through my personal narrative, in the role of overseeing eight practice-based inquiry projects, I reflect on the potential of practitioner inquiry in positioning the teachers at the core of the inquiry as the researchers, the potential of practitioner inquiry in steering the teachers to be producer of knowledge rather than consumers of it, and the potential of practitioner inquiry in empowering the teachers to direct their own professional learning rather than allow themselves to be passive recipients of generic professional development. While educators continue to advocate for constructivist approaches to learning, current practices have not overwhelmingly detracted from knowledge transmission approaches. Could this be attributed to the notion that how we teach may be an internally learned habit from the way we were taught and that change is difficult because it requires that habit to be internally deconstructed? I aver that practitioner inquiry may be a catalyst for transforming education from the ideology of mastering copious bodies of known content knowledge that are seemingly transmitted from teacher to students, towards a more organic educational experience that could take teachers and learners on a myriad of undefined knowledge producing journeys. The assertion being made in this paper is that rather than external theoretical dictation of best practice being imposed on teachers, it is important for practitioners to develop their own understandings of their practice through their own inquiry of what best practice might look like to inform their own teaching and learning context. Essentially, the inward gaze of practitioner inquiry may nurture an informed practice based on actual experiences that is more pertinent to the teaching and learning environment than the interference of any outward ‘expert researcher’ intervention.