GSE Publications

Document Type

Journal Article

Date of this Version

February 2008


One would think, given the public representation of teachers and teaching, the steady proliferation of top-down policies and mandates, and the dismal views of public education, that teacher research would be on life support. The fact that the field is actually alive and well surprises even — or maybe especially — those who have been closest to the work over time. Teacher researchers aim not primarily to "do research," but, rather, to teach better. The large and rapidly growing literature written by and with practitioners attests in myriad ways to the possibilities for positive change in education. Much practitioner inquiry remains radical and passionate, deeply personal and profoundly political — richly embedded in situations where teachers have agency around their own practice and where their commitments to educational access and equity remain clear in spite of these "trying times." The persistence of the practitioner inquiry movement broadly, however, is nevertheless confounded by the fact that the practice of teaching is widely misunderstood and misinterpreted. Disturbingly absent from the public representations of teachers and teaching is knowledge of how the practice of teaching involves complex struggles teachers engage on behalf of what my colleague Judy Buchanan refers to as "improving the life chances of students." And there are powerful and painful ironies in the ongoing reauthorization crisis around No Child Left Behind and, indeed, what and who are being left behind. Particularly distressing to me has been the rapidly disappearing notion in the public discourse of teaching as a professional practice with the capacity for and the commitment to improving itself.


Copyright 2008 by the National Council of Teachers of English. Used with permission.
Reprinted from Journal for Research in the Teaching of English, Volume 42, Issue 3, February 2008, pages 373-379.
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Date Posted: 10 April 2008

This document has been peer reviewed.