The cultural politics of researching teacher learning; a critical overview

Year: 1998

Author: Smyth, John

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

We are in an era of increasing calls by government to undertake research with "industry partners". However, there has been relatively little attention given to what this tendency means, what it does to the research process, how the collaboration works out, how the competing interests are accommodated, and the implications for researchers who approach such research with a socially critical agenda. This paper looks with some "sociological ambivalence" (Merton, 1973), at an ARC funded collaborative project concerned with the "cultural politics of teachers' learning". The central heuristic of teacher learning was linked to the overarching question: how in these economic reductionist and managerialist times it possible to reinsert an educative agenda as the most prominent one in teachers' work ? Emergent questions, include:

- how are teacher controlled/teacher managed forms of learning fashioned as a counter-hegemonic alternatives ?
- how do teachers harness detailed working knowledge of schools and their communities to create 'enunciative space'?
- what does the archetype of the school as a "critical professional place- maker" look like?
- what are the generative politics when groups of teachers make things happen, rather than allow things to happen to them ?
- within the ideological bracket creep of the devolved marketised school, what forms of "selective, calculative compliance" (Wilmott, 1993) are possible for "micro-emancipation"?, and;
- as researchers, how do we "work the hyphens" (Fine & Weis, 1998) of: theory and practice; researcher and researched; policy and implementation; insider and outsider -- in school-controlled reform processes?