Action research for english teaching: ideology, pedagogy and personal growth

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Abstract:

This article takes as its starting point the notion that the extent to which action research is accepted or rejected as a valid means of enquiry and professional development is largely determined by occupational culture and the ideology of individuals who corporately constitute that culture (Adlam, 1999; Li et al, 1999). Here, the view that the values and ideologies of teachers cannot be separated from their teaching or research into their teaching (Day, 1998) is illustrated in relation to a politically significant and strategically placed group of teachers. With the advent of the National Literacy Strategy in high (secondary) schools in the United Kingdom, there is a need for English teachers to reevaluate the nature of the subject they teach, which is being redefined, as well as their pedagogy. The beliefs of this distinct group of practitioners are explored, and it is suggested that they are positioned, ideologically, culturally and politically to be receptive to and benefit from action research. As the current emphasis on literacy and therefore on the â–˜adult needsâ–™ and â–˜crosscurricularâ–™ models of their subject contrasts sharply with this group's timehonoured valorisation of the â–˜personal growthâ–™ model of English characterised by imagination and creativity, action research is seen to provide an opportunity for these practitioners to reflect on their â–˜conscious and unconscious doingsâ–™ (Altrichter et al, 1993, p. 6). Throughout this article, reference is made to the author's experience of conducting a 3-year longitudinal action research project as a high (secondary) school teacher of English funded by the ESRC (Pike, 2000a,b,c,d, e), although the intention in this article is to explore the degree of epistemological and ideological congruence between the values and beliefs of English teachers, and some prevalent features of action research

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09650790200200176

Affiliations: University of Leeds, United Kingdom

Publication date: March 1, 2002

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