The Story So Far

Personal Knowledge and the Political

This paper conducts an exploration of some forms of enquiry that are becoming influential within teacher education. Storying and narratology are genres which allow us to move beyond (or to the side) of the main paradigms of educational inquiry - with their numbers, their variables, their psychometrics, their psychologies, their decontextualized theories. Potentially then, the new genres offer the chance for a substantial step forward in the representation of lived experience in schooling.

Because of this substantial potential, the new genres require very close scrutiny, for whilst they have some obvious strengths, there are some weaknesses which may prove incapacitating. If so, we may be sponsoring genres of enquiry in the name of empowerment, whilst at the same time, effectively dispowering the very people and causes we seek to work with.

This exploration seeks to locate the genres of narrative and storying within the emergent cultural patterns of contemporary societies and economies. The media context of personal knowledge is examined and a series of questions and issues raised as a result. In the final section, some conclusions as to the role of personal knowledge in educational research are provided.
In this paper I conduct an exploration of some forms of inquiry that are becoming influential within teacher education. In particular, I want to focus on forms of inquiry variously called "stories", "narratives", "personal knowledge", "practical knowledge" or in one particular genre "personal practical knowledge".
I find myself highly sympathetic to the urge to generate new ways of producing, collaborating, representing and knowing. They offer a serious opportunity to question many of the in-built biases of race, class, or gender, which existing modes of inquiry mystify whilst reproducing (See Giroux, 1991). Storying and narratology are genres which allow us to move beyond (or to the side) of the main paradigms of inquiry with their numbers, their variables, their psychometrics, their psychologisms, their decontextualized theories. Potentially then, the new genres offer the chance for a large step forward in representing the lived experience of schooling.
Because of this substantial potential the new genres require very close scrutiny. For whilst they have some obvious strengths, there are I think, some weaknesses which may prove incapacitating. If so, we may be sponsoring genres of inquiry in the name of empowerment, whilst at the same time, effectively disempowering the very people and causes we seek to work with.
Date of publication:
1995
Number of pages
(as Word doc):
23
Publisher:
Co-author:
Subject: Life History
Available in: English
Appears in: Resources in Education, ERIC Issue RIEMAR95, I.D.: ED 376 160
Number of editions: 1

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