10 SES 02 A, Professional Knowledge & Teacher Identity: Ways of knowing
This paper discusses a study that looked into the roles of subjectivity in teachers’ action research projects and discusses how we could mindfully embrace subjectivity to meaningfully promote teacher expertise development. According to Noffke (2009), the action research process is characterized by the personal, professional, and political dimensions. Among them, the personal dimension includes a wide variety of intrapersonal issues that emerges and is known to dynamically interacts with the other two dimensions in the research process. In action research, this intrapersonal process can function to catalyze the process of inside-out transformations in conjunction with its social and political dimensions (Torbert, 2004). It can be seen that such a personal inner-working in a practice-linked research experience sets an important stage for teachers to develop personally, professionally and socially valuable forms of knowledge. The question is how the subjective dimension contributes to teacher expertize development in teachers’ action research projects.
In traditional educational research, subjectivity has been its “black sheep” because of its heavy emphasis on objectivity in the field (see Gergen, 2001; Ratner 2002). However, in many non-Western contexts, holistic integration of thinking, feeling, motivation and other functions of the mind is seen as an important foundation of educational practice and dialogues among teachers (Reason, 2004).
In East Asian cultures, the human mind is considered to be a holistic entity that is not independent of various functions of the body. It is believed that artificially detaching an objective thinking from diverse mental and bodily functioning is considered to be dangerous as it can make us lose sight of the holistic picture of our experiences. Humans are considered to function and make a variety of decisions based on such a holistic basis, which is often reflected as an underlying philosophy of a variety of practices in East Asian cultures (Inoue, 2012). Interestingly this view of human development has been recently receiving an increasing attention among educators in Western cultures (e.g.,. Jennings, 2015; Rechtschaffen, 2014).
An important question is how we could better understand the role of subjectivity involved in teacher development, especially in Western contexts. What is the nature of subjectivity that we should embrace to meaningfully promote teacher expertise development? How are we supposed to mentor teachers’ action research projects by being mindful of the role of subjectivity involved in the process?
Gergen, K. (2001). Psychological science in a postmodern context. American Psychologist, 56, 803-813. Jennings, P. A. (2015). Mindfulness for teachers: Simple skills for peace and productivity in the classroom. New York: W.W. Norton & Company. Inoue, N. (2015). Beyond actions: Psychology of action research for mindful educational improvement. New York: Peter Lang Publishing. Inoue, N. (2012). Mirrors of the mind: An introduction of mindful ways of thinking. New York: Peter Lang Publishing. Miles, M. B. & Huberman, A. M. (1994). Qualitative data analysis. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. Nonaka, I. & Toyama, R. (2005) The theory of the knowledge-creating firm: subjectivity, objectivity and synthesis. Industrial and Corporate Change, 14(3), 419- 436. Noffke, S. E. (2009). Revisiting the professional, personal, and political dimensions of action research. In S. E. Noffke & B. Somekh (Eds.). The SAGE handbook of educational action research. pp. 6-25. Los Angeles: Sage. Ratner, C. (2002). Subjectivity and objectivity in qualitative methodology. Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 3(3), September. Rechtschaffen, D. (2002). The way of mindful education: Cultivating well-being in teachers and students. New York: W. W. Norton & Company. Torbert, W. R. (2004). Action Inquiry: The Secret of Timely and Transforming Leadership. San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers. Yin, R. K. (1989). Case study research: Design and methods. Thousand Oaks, CA Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.
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