Toward collective praxis in teacher education: Complexity, pragmatism and practice
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
In this thesis I claim that dominant realist, interpretive and postmodern research methodologies, taken together, provide necessary but not sufficient tools for use within educational research. Understandings of material, social and linguistic worlds do not, in themselves, cater for teachers' pragmatic needs to consider (a) the social consequences of educational practices, both their own and those of the institutions within which they work, and (b) the complexity of teaching in a postmodern world. I draw on ideas from pragmatism, post-structuralism, critical pedagogy, complexity theory, reflective practice, and personal experience in order to invite the emergence (or social construction) of new phenomena: these I hope, may enable teachers and other educationalists to take a vibrant part in ongoing debates and actions concerning educational policy and practice. I argue that the assumption that educational theory can be applied in practice is flawed and needs to be replaced by theory which recognises the dynamic nature of theory-in-practice: all theory is data within practice. This is a late-career thesis written by a practitioner with an unusually broad experience of the New Zealand educational system. I argue that the purpose of theory is to guide practice, that practice must drive theory, and that theory and practice need to join together to focus on the consequences of planned actions. This is neo-pragmatism, but, as stated thus far, it is not enough for my purposes because it does not include a commitment to social justice. Praxis is a term which ties emancipatory political goals to theory-and-practice. I invite the construction of the understandings of praxitioner activities where collective praxis and individual praxis might co-emerge in the interests of social justice. I promote the expansion of fresh discourses through research into collective praxis within teaching and teacher education.