22 SES 03 C, Academic Work and Professional Development
We are living in interesting times. Across Europe and the world the collapse of the economy, and a particular financial model, has brought new challenges, which are impacting on all ways of life. Higher Education has not been immune to radical changes, which call for innovative answers. One of such changes is the redefinition of what education is, where it is located, who has authority over it and how knowledge in such an undisciplined discipline (Bridges, 2006) is constructed and validated. Simultaneously, a more market-like model demands HE institutions to re-think staff deployment, career progression, training, student engagement, experience and participation.
In such a new world, educational research seems to be a discipline under siege. One proof of such a feeling of loss and dismay is the lack of direct reference to an education strand in the Horizon 2020 European funding stream (EU, 2013). In the UK, recent criticism regarding its inability to provide ‘useful’ knowledge (DfE, 2013) has revived old paradigmatic wars. The revival of experimental designs (Goldacre, 2012) is a reminder that battles we thought were won, might still be lost. Moreover, the coalition government’ changes to teacher training funding and inspection regimes (DfE, 2010) are undermining key functions of schools of education and of educational research. Finally, the expansion of teaching and learning as a means to improve HE’s response to its own crisis has broadened the field of who can do educational research. While this can be a positive opportunity for disciplinary cross-fertilisation, it also destabilises traditional disciplinary boundaries and undermines professional identities.
In Italy, a history of underfunding, progressively worsening in the last 15 years, is taking its toll on the possibility of building the future of educational research and education (CUN, 2013)
This approaches these challenges by drawing on and reflecting on the life histories of five academics, three working in a new university in the UK, and two working in two universities in Italy. Each contributor provides a short summary of their professional and personal journeys through education and into educational research, and offers suggestions for how they see future developments. From this starting point, the paper interrogates these life histories to answer the questions: what can we learn from how educational research had evolved in the last 20 years? What is it like to be an educational researcher at present? And what does the future might bring?
Bridges, D. (2006) The disciplines and discipline of educational research. Journal of Philosophy of Education, 40, 2. 259-272 Department for Education (2013) Research priorities and questions. London: DfE Department of Education (2010) The Importance of Teaching. The White Paper. London: DfE European Union (2013) Horizon 2020. The EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation. Available at http://ec.europa.eu/programmes/horizon2020/ Franzosa, S. D (1992) Authoring the Educated Self: Educational Autobiography and Resistance. Educational Theory, 42(4) 395-412. Goldacre, B. (2013) Building evidence into education. London: Department for Education Gubrium, J. F., and Holstein, J. A. (2009) Analysing Narrative Analysis. London: Sage Tenni, C., Smyth, A. and Boucher, C. (2003) The Researcher as Autobiographer: Analysing Data Written About Oneself. Available at www.nova.edu/ssss/QR/QR8-1/tenni.pdf
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