How often do we not hear the phrase: ‘We are learning from what we are doing ‘ or ‘We want to learn from our mistakes’. By utterances like these we say we put great value on researching what we do, investigating how things went. Well, forget it. It is not a first priority. Far from it. It often just appears to be not more than an excuse for not taking responsibility (1). At least when you consider the numerous times when no consequences are attached to mishaps and business goes on as usual. But we need not forget that a strong tie between doing and learning is the foundation for professionalism. A true professional is accountable for what he or she does ( 2). It comes with steady evaluating one’s practice and acting upon the results. It seems so self-evident one is tempted to forget it is not that manifest at all in actual practice.
At least this is what you take from a recent in-depth study on teachers’ deployment of research activities in and on their own practice. Gauging their ongoing work teachers are confronted with a huge divide between what needs to be done and what is actually done. The study gives quite a few worrying gaps on: facilitation of research in schools, time for learning and follow up on evaluation, discussing results for improvements. The one that is standing out most is engagement in research activity (75% in favor – 15% actually practiced).
This account is not so much a reason for blaming and shaming or increased management control over what teacher do – it has been done before to no avail (3) . Far more important is to empower teachers in their position as researchers (of their practice). Teacher research (4) to date however seems more like an addendum, or extra freewheeling, not a serious inherent professional activity. To become one it may not be enough to allow for more space and time (as the authors propose), but, by actively, openly sourcing data on teaching practices from a personal perspective and share it with interested others (in the school). That would be a viral learning 2.0.
Richard Procter (2015). Teachers and school research practices: the gaps between the values and practices of teachers, Journal of Education for Teaching, 41:5, 464-477,
To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02607476.2015.1105535.