Educational research

Education, educational research
and the good for humankind
Research Institute for Professional Practice,
Learning and Education (RIPPLE)
Charles Sturt University
Wagga Wagga, NSW
(150th) Anniversary
of Jyväskylä
Teacher Seminary
1863 -2013
Uno Cygnaeus (18101888) proposed
national system of folk
schools for Finland,
established 1863.
Appointed Chief
Inspector of Schools,
Established Jyväskylä
Teacher Seminary 1863
and was first Director
Education and the good for
2. Education as an initiation into
3. Educational research
4. Educational research as research
within practice traditions
1. Education and
the good for
 Education has a double purpose: the
formation of individual persons and
the formation of societies.
 In the Ethics, Aristotle says:
“we are conducting an examination, not so we
may know what virtue is, but so that we may
become good” (Bartlett and Collins, 2011,
 The happiness of the eudaimon is
achieved through living a life of moral
and intellectual virtue, and thus a life
that is noble not only for the one who
lives it, but also because it contributes
to the good for humankind.
1. Education and
the good for
 Aristotle, in the Politics (Bk. VII, Ch.13):
 It is not in Fortune’s power to make a city good;
that is a matter of scientific planning and
deliberate policy.
 Politics (Bk. VIII, Ch.1):
 it is a lawgiver’s prime duty to arrange for the
education of the young. ... since there is but one
aim for the entire city, it follows that education
must be one and the same for all and that oversight
of education must be a public concern, not the
private affair that it now is, each man separately
bringing up his own children and teaching them
just what he thinks they ought to learn. In all
matters that belong to the whole community the
learning to do them must also be the concern of the
community as a whole. And it is not right either
that any of the citizens should think that he
belongs just to himself; all citizens belong to the
state, for each is part of the state; and the care
bestowed on each part naturally looks also towards
the care of the whole
1. Education and
the good for
 Hannah Arendt (1958, pp.26-7):
 To be political, to live in a polis, meant that
everything was decided through words and
persuasion, not through force and violence.
In Greek self-understanding, to force
people by violence, to command people
rather than to persuade, were prepolitical
ways to deal with people characteristic of
life outside the polis, of home and family
life, where the household head ruled with
uncontested, despotic powers, or in the life
of the barbarian empires of Asia, whose
despotism was frequently likened to the
organisation of the household.
1. Education and
the good for
 Bartlett and Collins (2011, p.x):
“Everybody now knows that nobody knows
what the good life is”.
1. Education and
the good for
 Three kinds of intersubjective conditions and
social media that make democratic communities
 in semantic space and the medium of language,
shared cultural-discursive understandings that
make it possible for people to comprehend one
another and the world … ;
 in physical space-time and the medium of
activity and work, shared material-economic
arrangements that preserve individual and
collective well-being and provide access to an
interesting and satisfying life for all … ; and
 in social space and the medium of power and
solidarity, shared social-political arrangements
that make possible the forms of life
characteristic of just and democratic societies,
and that, through the power of reason, allow
people to balance their individual and collective
interests … .
1. Education and
the good for
 An answer, for our time, to the
question of what the good for
humankind might look like:
a society that works both to overcome limits
to, and to extend, people’s individual and
collective opportunities and capacities for
self-expression, self-development and selfdetermination in ways compatible with the
collective opportunities and capacities of all.
2. Education
as an initiation
into practices
 In relation to the good life for
humankind, education is an initiation
into the kinds of practices
characteristic of the good life for
humankind, namely, practices that
enact and secure
a culture based on reason,
a productive and sustainable economy
and environment, and
a just and democratic society.
2. Education
as an initiation
into practices
Kemmis, S., Wilkinson,
J., Edwards-Groves, C.,
Hardy, I., Grootenboer,
P. and Bristol, L. (2014)
Changing Practices,
Changing Education.
Singapore: Springer.
 A definition of education:
 Education, properly speaking, is the
process by which children, young
people and adults are initiated into
forms of understanding, modes of
action, and ways of relating to one
another and the world, that foster
(respectively) individual and collective
self-expression, individual and
collective self-development, and
individual and collective selfdetermination, and that are, in these
senses, oriented towards the good for
each person and the good for
2. Education
as an initiation
into practices
 Using the definition positively to
build a curriculum of practices
mathematics education
Sloyd (veisto), manual arts education
 Using the definition negatively to
critique educational practices
3. Educational
 Education versus schooling
 Education is the practice of forming selves
and societies that goes on in all sorts of
settings – including formal settings like the
classroom, non-formal settings like the
everyday life of schools outside the
classroom, or in workplaces, and informal
settings like the family or community.
 Schooling, by contrast, is the
institutionalised process of transmission of
knowledge, skills and values that goes on in
the formal settings of educational
institutions. Schooling may be intended to
be educational, but it can also be noneducational or even anti-educational.
 Educational research vs schooling
3. Educational
Educational research asks whether our
practices are, in fact, educational.
Schooling research aims to assist the
administration of schooling, and to make
the process of schooling more effective and
efficient in producing people adapted to the
needs of the economy (that is, to be the
bearers of skills for production and the
means for consumption) and the needs of
the administrative state (that is, people
who are willing providers and clients of
 Research that asks ‘Are our current
3. Educational
practices educational?’
Practitioners can use the definition of
education negatively (that is, critically) to
decide whether, instead of enacting
education as we defined it, their practices
in fact unreasonably limit and constrain
the practice of education. Are our putative
‘educational’ practices in fact educational?
Or are they non-educational or even antieducational?
 Do our current practices, and … our
3. Educational
educational institutions, unreasonably
limit and constrain
the ways people (for example, teachers,
students, administrators, community
members) understand things, and their
opportunities for individual and collective
the ways people are able to do things, and
their opportunities for individual and
collective self-development, and
the ways people are able to relate to one
another and the world, and their
opportunities for self-determination?
 Educational research that aims to
3. Educational
foster communicative action– that is,
conversation in which we strive for
intersubjective agreement about the language
and ideas we use,
mutual understanding of one another’s
perspectives and points of view, and
unforced consensus about what to do.
 A change in perspective in educational
3. Educational
from schooling research that is that is
preoccupied with discovering what works
best in schools and school systems,
measured in learning outcomes,
to educational research that aims to
discover whether our educational practices
and institutions are enacting education.
 A change in perspective in educational
3. Educational
from research that answers theoretical or
technical questions to research that
answers practical questions;
from contemplation of the nature of things
to deliberation about what to do, from the
abstract to the concrete, from the general
to the particular, from epistemology to
ontology, and from concerns about truth to
concerns about how to act in history;
from nomothetic research (aimed at
producing generalisations) to idiographic
research (aimed at interpreting cases).
 Research that contributes to a way of
3. Educational
life – living well – in the sense that
Pierre Hadot (1995) described it for
the ancients in Greece and Rome:
living a ‘logic’ by thinking and speaking
well and clearly, avoiding irrationality and
living a ‘physics’ by acting well and
productively in the world, avoiding harm,
waste and excess; and
living an ‘ethics’ by relating well to others
and the world, avoiding injustice, exclusion
and causing suffering.
 Participant research creates the conditions for
practitioners to:
3. Educational
understand and develop the ways in which
practices are conducted ‘from within’ the
practice traditions that inform and orient them;
speak a shared language, using the interpretive
categories, and joining the conversations and
critical debates of those whose action
constitutes the practice being investigated;
participate in and develop the forms of action
and interaction in which the practice is
participate in and develop the communities of
practice through which the practice is
conducted, both in the relationships between
different participants in a particular site or
setting of practice, and (in the case of a
professional practice) in the relationships
between people who are collectively responsible
for the practice; and
transform the conduct and consequences of
their practice to meet the needs of changing
times and circumstances by confronting and
overcoming irrationality, unsustainability and
4. Conclusion:
within practice
 Participatory research by educators
examining whether their own
practices are educational, conducted
in the mode of practical philosophy
and critical participatory action
in public spheres,
for communicative action.
4. Conclusion:
within practice
 Around the world, schooling research
threatens to supplant, undermine and
obliterate educational research.
Schooling research is perhaps the most
important and the principal form that
neoliberalism and the New Public
Management (Evetts, 2009) take in the
discipline and the professional field of
education. Schooling research is a creature of
the culture of late modernity, one of the
canonical social practices of our era.
Just as greenhouse gases are the signature
environmental threat to the environment in
our times, it seems to me that schooling
research is the signature threat to education
in our times, and thus, around the world, to
our cultures, our economies, and our societies
and political life.
4. Conclusion:
within practice
For the moment, vast parts of the world
economy depend on burning fossil fuels, and a
substantial section of the world economy
depends on investments in fossil fuels. A
changing international consciousness may yet
pull us back from the brink of the irreversible
climate change that will certainly follow our
continued reliance on fossil fuels.
Likewise, for the moment, a vast part of the
educational research industry internationally is
in fact devoted to schooling research that serves
the interests of the managers of education
systems rather than those whose lives and work
shape and are shaped by education.
I think we need a changed international
consciousness that might bring us back to
Education from schooling, before rising
generations of teachers forget the intergenerational chain of links that connects our
conceptions of education for our times to the
educational traditions that have nourished us
since Plato and Aristotle.
4. Conclusion:
within practice
I hope you will join me in supporting the
development of a social movement in our field,
that will place educators at the heart of
educational research, and not just their managers.
Many of you now support ‘reflective practice’ and
‘action research’ in many forms in the initial and
continuing education of teachers. Perhaps we can
also find new ways to strengthen the capacities
and resources that educators need if they are to
have the professional autonomy to be the
principal researchers into their own practices, to
discover whether and how their practices are
indeed educational.
I invite you to join me in this movement, not in
the name of schooling, but in the name of
education. I invite you to join me, not in the
interests of the effective administration of
schooling, but in the interests of achieving the
things that education in our time should both
enact and secure: a culture based on reason, a
productive and sustainable economy and
environment, and a just and democratic society.
Thank you

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