Researching teacher practice: social justice dispositions revealed in activity

Gale, T. , Cross, R. and Mills, C. (2019) Researching teacher practice: social justice dispositions revealed in activity. In: Lynch, J., Rowlands, J., Gale, T. and Parker, S. (eds.) Practice Methodologies in Education Research. Routledge: Abingdon, Oxon ; New York, NY, pp. 48-62. ISBN 9780367193829 (doi: 10.4324/9780429202063-3)

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This chapter reports on a recent project researching the practice of teachers, particularly the pedagogies they employ within advantaged and disadvantaged Australian secondary schools. We were interested in the extent to which their practice (or activity) might be considered socially just and, more specifically, what informed it. Given the research literature often observes a disconnect between what teachers believe (e.g. about social justice issues) and what they do (which can appear contradictory to their beliefs), our intention was to identify rhythms and patterns within data that suggest a disposition to practice in certain ways. Contributing to our understanding, we enlisted the teachers themselves in interpreting the rhythms and patterns in their practice and thus in naming their social justice dispositions (Bourdieu 1990). Aware that these dispositions are largely unconscious, we engaged teachers through ‘provocative’ research techniques designed to unsettle their practiced account of their practice and raise the previously unconsidered to the level of consciousness. Our analysis was guided by cultural-historic activity theory (CHAT), specifically Engeström’s notion of human activity as a system, which provided a systematic way to identify and understand the rhythms and patterns in teachers’ pedagogies. For the purposes of this chapter, two conclusions can be drawn. First, there is potential for research on practice to have a pedagogical dimension for researchers and the researched; in our case, in collectively realising more socially just future practice. Second, research on practice is invariably about understanding more that just practice; in our case, it was also about what informs that practice. Our argument is that the ontology of practice (what it is) includes more than just the empirical, so that its epistemology (how it is known) needs to also accommodate the typically unseen or unnoticed.

Item Type:Book Sections
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Gale, Professor Trevor
Authors: Gale, T., Cross, R., and Mills, C.
Subjects:H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
L Education > L Education (General)
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1603 Secondary Education. High schools
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Education
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2020 The Authors
First Published:First published in Practice Methodologies in Education Research: 48-62
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the publisher copyright policy

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