Learning with and from people in townships and universities: how do I exercise my transformational educational influence for generative systemic transformation?

A paper presented at the American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting, as part of the symposium

[Word version available]

Communicating and testing the validity of claims to transformational systemic influence for civic responsibility

Monday, March 24th, New York

Jean McNiff
St Mary’s University College, Strawberry Hill, Twickenham, UK
e-mail address for correspondence: jeanmcniff@mac.com

Abstract
This presentation describes work with a group of twelve teachers in a township in South Africa. The practical work is to deliver an action research-oriented masters programme, and to support teachers in the production of their living educational theories, about how they are improving their learning to improve their practices. The research explains the exercise of educational influence as individuals develop forms of democratic practices, in the study group context, for transfer to their own educational settings. The pedagogies used encourage the exercise of original thinking, especially in relation to deconstructing the teachers’ perceptions of themselves as disadvantaged through the oppressive legacy of a disabling apartheid system, underpinned by the exclusional logics and values of the then dominant epistemological and political regime, and to see their educational potentials for systemic transformation. Data is drawn also from work with a group of staff in a South African University, who are investigating their practices of developing inclusional and relational epistemologies for the transformation of higher education as a site for the inclusion of all as critically engaged citizens. It is argued that the production and publication of their accounts can transform the knowledge base of higher education as informing practices about the emancipatory and democratic nature of social living.

Introduction

This is the remarkable story of a remarkable project, as I account for my own learning with and from two groups of educators in South Africa. The groups in question are (1) a group of teachers in Khayelitsha, a township 30 kilometres east of Cape Town, and (2) a group of academic staff at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth. Members of both groups are linking with each other, and all are studying their practices in their workplaces, some for higher degree accreditation. This paper tells the story of the project in brief (see McNiff in preparation), and begins to offer some recommendations for future policies and practices arising from its findings.

Because the story is also a story of my own professional learning, in the company of others whose enquiries I support, I write it as a research report. I live a life of enquiry, not so often in the form of identifiable projects such as the one told here, but generally, where I ask questions and pursue answers about why things are as they are and what I can do to contribute to their improvement. So, because I believe that social improvement rests in the hands of individuals, and because I do not expect other people to do something I am not prepared to do first, I begin with myself. My paper therefore is an account of my action enquiry, as I ask, ‘How do I improve my practice?’ (Whitehead 1989). In this case, my practice is to do with how I can contribute to social wellbeing through educational research by enabling the transformation of the legacy of deep historical and present injustice into purposeful educational action. I organise my action enquiry and its account in the terms set out in Whitehead (1989) and developed in McNiff and Whitehead (2006) and Whitehead and McNiff (2006):

  • What is my concern?
  • Why am I concerned?
  • How do I show the situation as it is and as it develops?
  • What can I do about the situation? What will I do?
  • How do I ensure that any conclusions I come to are reasonably fair and accurate?
  • How do explain the significance of my educational influences in learning?
  • How do I modify my ideas and practices in light of my evaluation?

Here is an account of my action enquiry. This is followed by an account of my understanding of its potential implications.

My action enquiry

What is my concern?
I need first to explain my professional contexts. I am an independent researcher, living in England and working with different higher educational institutions and education agencies in different parts of the world. I support the workplace-based enquiries of practitioner-researchers, usually for higher degree accreditation. The project outlined here is part of that work.

The concern that informs this enquiry arose in 2005, when I was invited to be a resource provider at a winter research school in Langebaan, organised by the University of the Western Cape and the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. There I met another researcher who was doing interesting research in Khayelitsha. He was keen for me to see his work, so I agreed to go with him the next time I was in South Africa. This was sooner than expected, for I was invited to visit a University as a guest speaker, so this also provided an occasion to accompany my colleague into Khayelitsha.

Nothing could have prepared me for Khayelitsha and its conditions. A million people live there, some in masonry-built basic houses, but the vast majority live in hand-constructed shacks, made of wood, tin, cardboard, plastic or whatever else comes to hand. These dwellings are unbearably hot in summer when the corrugated iron roofs attract the scorch of the sun, and freezing in winter, when the wind cuts keenly up the forlorn streets. Rain for many means that the floors turn muddy, and any crack in the roof or wall turns bedding and clothing sodden (Otter 2007). Books such as Art Publishers (n.d.) may romanticise townships, but these books, sold for profit, portray a select section of township life, ‘as “a window on the townships” through which the white man may peep and “see how they [the darkies] live”’ (Mafuna 2007: 79). By and large, living in a township is, for most, basic and violent.

Here are some pictures of Khayelitsha.



Why was I concerned?
While my colleague talked with the teachers about their work with him, I talked with them about opportunities for their continuing professional education. It turned out that existing opportunities were out of reach. I experienced the teachers as bright, passionate, articulate people, most with a gentle dignity and old-fashioned courtesy, and I warmed to them immediately, although I was terribly shy of them. The people I met were black, no one from the ‘Coloured’ or Indian community, and they told me about the fact that they could not get onto a higher education degree programme. The situation for them was that all would have had a teaching qualification, giving them qualified teacher status in UK terms, and most would have a three-year bachelors degree, but would not have the fourth year honours degree, which would be a requisite for accessing a masters programme. I learned later that this situation had been exacerbated for black and mixed heritage practitioners, who had been subjected to so-called Bantu education, a system that ensured that they would receive an inferior education from that offered to white students (see the justification offered by H. F. Verwoerd in Price 1991: 31). The situation they outlined for me went against every value of equity and personal and social wellbeing I held, and I resolved to do something about it, because I also knew that I could.

I knew that I could because I had done something similar fifteen years ago in Ireland. At that time some classroom teachers were also prevented from accessing higher degree programmes for a range of reasons, so I eventually negotiated with a British university that I could deliver a masters programme in Ireland, given that most British universities have flexible access routes. As a result, sixty-five teachers got their masters degrees (McNiff 2000). Systems in Irish universities changed, allowing access through the accreditation of prior (experiential) learning, and doors opened. I would not claim that I was the only activist person in this context, but I do claim that I had a part in influencing systemic change.

Now here was another opportunity to do something similar, and also possibly influence systemic change, so I went back to London, to St Mary’s University College, where I had a three-year part-time contract, and told the story to others, including Professor Pat Wade, then Head of the School of Education. Pat was immediately enthusiastic for the idea. She and I visited Khayelitsha, met with the teachers – about 50 turned up for an information evening – and she then went back to St Mary’s to negotiate the delivery of the programme. Six months and many meetings later, approval was given for the programme to begin officially in May 2006, to be completed not later than May 2009. The situation today is that the original number of teachers who turned up for the first study weekend has dwindled to ten, and these ten teachers are now on their final module. The programme is scheduled to complete on July 11th 2008, and a celebratory conference will be held on July 12th, to which key people will be invited, including members of the Western Cape Department of Education.

How do I show the situation as it was, and as it developed?
My concern was initially the effects of the enormous injustices that had been perpetrated historically on the basis of the flimsiest excuses, and mainly on the idea of ‘race as a biological essence’ (Mbembe 2007: 141). Through the then apartheid system, whole sectors of the population had been excluded from engagement in their own life affairs, and many had internalised the system of oppression to the extent that they now believed that this was the way things were meant to be. The legacy that I encountered when participants and I first began working together was that they expected me to give them answers, and not to engage personally with their own learning. Of course, this phenomenon is seen everywhere, not only in contexts such as post-apartheid South Africa, and is a common experience of much continuing professional education programmes, where participants often expect the lecturer or provider to give the answers, as happened in their earlier experiences of schooling (see Sinclair 2007). However, in the South African context, the experience was intensified by the fact that participants positioned me very much as ‘the expert knower’. I was later able to analyse this positioning in terms of how I was seen as representing the epitome of hierarchies of knowledge, grounded in the dominant epistemological system that sees knowledge as fragmented, and knowledge systems as divisive and exclusional, and how this dominant system had been reinforced by a politically-constituted social system that was designed to maintain white supremacy by manufacturing the consent (Achbar 1994) of black people to the lie that they were unable to think for themselves and really were intellectually inferior (Mangena 2007). I was also able to understand how the underpinning logic that encourages such categorisation also manifests as systems of social and intellectual categorisation, such as the apartheid system itself. My concern in the masters programme was to dismantle the professional apartheid of ‘me and them’ by dismantling the underpinning epistemological apartheid of ‘the knower and the trainees’. This in turn involved dismantling the logic of apartheid that promoted the dislocation of the self as alienated from their own capacity for knowledge creation, and that encouraged an ontological perspective of permanent self-induced psychic incapacity. In retrospect I can see that this has always been a major concern, which inspired the work in Ireland, as noted above, but the experience of working with the teachers in South Africa enabled me to articulate it for the first time as perhaps the major focus of my entire life work. My project is always to say to people, ‘You can do this for yourselves; you can show how you create knowledge to improve practice. You are special and unique. You have your place on earth, and it is your responsibility to use that place to promote your own and others’ well being. Do not listen to fabricated stories that tell you that you are less than you are. You can create your own life and write your own scripts, to show how you hold yourself accountable for what you do.’

A related concern was that normative practices in universities, which are still seen as the ultimate arbiters of what counts as knowledge and who counts as a knower, are also rooted in the same normative epistemologies. My concern within a South African context is that those normative epistemologies influence the perpetuation of a dominant higher education elitist culture of knowledge creation, still linked with elitist forms of social categorisation. The impulses of the new democratic dispensation are therefore systematically denied by a deep contradiction within many higher education institutions whose normative practices are rooted in underpinning epistemologies that are in turn rooted in divisive values and logics, yet who have a mandate for contributing to the development of a new social order whose forms of practice would be grounded in inclusional and relational epistemologies (Thayer-Bacon 2003). My understanding is that these contradictions will persist unless higher education personnel themselves contribute to the development of a new scholarship of practice (Schön 1995), where they accept the responsibility for showing how they hold themselves accountable for what they are doing (McNiff 2007).

I was therefore delighted when the opportunity arose to work with the Faculty of Education at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, where members of faculty have developed a vibrant culture of enquiry through studying their own practices, and are themselves engaging with issues of epistemological equity and the transformation of hierarchical systems of knowledge into democratic knowledge-creating communities where all knowledge is seen as potentially valid, provided it withstands the test of vigorous and sustained critique (see Olivier 2007; Wood et al. 2007; Wood 2008, in production).

What could I do? What did I do?
As is my normal practice, I set about teaching the masters programme with the teachers using an action research methodology, a process that requires participants actively and critically to engage with their own and one another’s learning. It requires the development of Winter’s (1989) ideas of reflexive critique, the ability to critique one’s own learning as part of one’s own developing capacity for knowledge creation; and dialectical critique, the capacity critically to analyse the historically-constituted political, cultural and economic forces that have acted on the present situation. It also requires a form of pedagogy that invites personal and reflective engagement with the subject matter as well as with one’s own process of critical enlightenment. I found that by using such interactive pedagogies I was able to encourage teacher participants actively to engage in scholarly work, through their enthusiasm for debates, group work, and presenting their ideas to colleagues. I believe that for some it was an experience of finding and using their voice. Alice Nongwane, a participant who has produced some delightful assignments that critically analyse processes of theorisation (see her 2007), told me, ‘I was quiet in our earlier sessions because I thought I had to listen to you. Then you told me that you wanted to hear my ideas, and my ideas were important. So I started talking.’ The current situation is that Alice and others and I are planning to co-author a paper for publication. This has always been my aim, not to speak on behalf of others, but to speak with them as we make our individual contributions collectively for our own and others’ wellbeing.

Here is a photo of Alice Nongwane

In relation to my work in the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, academic participants have formed a vibrant action research group, comprising about fifteen people, who hold regular research seminars in which to present and critique one another’s work. Scholarly publications are already emerging from these meetings (McNiff and Naidoo 2007; Olivier 2007; Woods et al. 2007), and some staff members who do not already hold doctoral degrees are considering embarking on their living theory programmes. This group has the potential to act as a hub for a national focus on personal enquiry for collective accountability. Possible new initiatives at the university are to introduce new scholarship forms of enquiry into Postgraduate Certificate of Education programmes, as well as undergraduate programmes, so that novice teachers can develop the skills and capacities to reflect on their practices as lifelong learners (Department of Education 2003). These forms of professional education are current within international movements to develop teaching as research-based practice (see for example the documentation of the Teacher Learning Academy in the UK, which links with the new Teacher Development Agency professional standards for teachers), not in the sense outlined by Hargreaves (1996), but in the sense that teaching is seen as the process of making public how one holds oneself accountable for the realisation of one’s educational values, in critical negotiation with others, as a possible new quality assurance framework for values-based professionalism.

How do I ensure that any conclusions I come to are reasonably fair and accurate?
I am aware of the need to test and demonstrate the validity of my knowledge claims. I do this in a range of ways, using several validity checks.

My first validity check is to test the robustness of the evidence base of my practice within the context of evaluating the extent to which I can say that I have realised my educational values in my practice. I believe I can do this, by reproducing some of the words of participants of their experience of the programme, and by citing some of their published works. In this case, my values, which emerge through my enquiry as real-life practices, come to act as my living standards of judgement (Whitehead 2004).

Works that show the extent of the realisation of my values in my practice can be seen in the archive of validated assignments submitted for the MA Professional Values in Practice Programme for St Mary’s University College. Once the programme is complete, I hope to make the assignments public, in the same way that I have publicised the work of the candidates at the University of Limerick (see Appendix 1).

The second validity check is to show how I test the validity of my evidence base against the critical feedback of others. This involves offering my account in forums such as this meeting, where I tell my story and show how my claims are tested against my evidence base. I invite others to assess whether my story meets the criteria articulated by Habermas (1976), to show that my account is told in a comprehensible way that speaks to their experience; that I have demonstrated authenticity by explaining how I have tried to live my values in my practice over time; that I am honest, in producing an evidence base to show the lived realities of my practice and the production of evidence in my awareness of the need to demonstrate the validity of my claims; and that my story is told appropriately, by explaining the contexts of its creation in relation to the historical and cultural forces within which the work has been carried out.

My third validity check is to see whether I can claim catalytic validity (Lather 1991) for my research, by setting out how I understand its potential significance for new learning (see next section), and also of its possible implications for future practices (see below). It is also to see how I can claim ironic validity (ibid.) through showing how I am able to reflect on and critique my own processes of learning, which I believe I am doing here in a systematic way. Through explicating the different aspects of my enquiry, I believe I can claim methodological validity as I set out what I understand as the originality, significance and rigour of my research programme.

How do explain the significance of my educational influences in learning?
I have already indicated some of the evidence base of my research. This evidence base is considerable, and exists in the linguistic accounts of participants as they have produced their assignments, and as they now begin to realise their capacity for writing for a public readership (Majake 2008; Woods 2008 in preparation) and make their ideas public within research forums (Adams 2008; Majake 2008). The evidence base is widening in the sense that the work is already being embraced as the basis for new PhD studies in a range of universities (for example Esau 2007; Steenekamp 2006), as well as informing new forms of practice and new forms of theorising.

How do I modify my ideas and practices in light of my evaluation?
I believe I am showing here how my learning from my experience is already influencing my own learning and the learning of those with whom I work. I am now interested in how I can influence the education of the social formations within which I work, and this brings me to some of the possible implications of the research. I believe that if the ideas I outline below can be embraced by agencies such as the South African Council for Educators, and the various Departments of Education, this could go far in reclaiming education as a profession that is grounded in values that promote the personal, social and economic wellbeing of all citizens, within a context of working towards a renaissance for a new South Africa (Department of Education 2007) and the regeneration of its spirituality (Mafuna 2007).

What are some of the potential implications of my research?

I believe some of the potential implications of my research are as follows.

From outcomes-based learning to cultures of enquiry

The present education system in South Africa is organised in terms of outcomes based education (OBE). This shift occurred as part of the new democratic dispensation, when the role of educators shifted from possessor and dispenser of knowledge to, amongst other roles, facilitator and mediator of learning (Department of Education 2003). The idea of outcomes-based education is, however, problematic, as communicated in a number of publications, including Allais (2007) and Jansen (1998), who argue that OBE is based on a narrow conceptualisation of education within a neo-liberal performance model of excellence in achievement, signalling a return to education as a cult of efficiency (Callahan 1962). My own understanding is that OBE is epistemologically flawed in its historicist assumptions that progress in knowledge, while understood as the basis of social transformation, is assumed to improve progressively, a view stringently critiqued by Popper (1962), who offers the following ‘refutation of historicism. The argument may be summed up in five statements as follows:

  1. The course of human history is strongly influenced by the growth of human knowledge. …
  2. We cannot predict, by rational or scientific methods, the future growth of our scientific knowledge. …
  3. We cannot, therefore, predict the future course of human history.
  4. This means that we must reject the possibility of a theoretical history; that is to say, of a historical social science that would correspond to theoretical physics. There can be no scientific theory of historical development serving as a basis for historical prediction.
  5. The fundamental aim of historicist methods … is therefore misconceived; and historicism collapses.

(Popper 1962: xi–xii, emphasis in original)

The work I support is premised on the idea of knowledge creation for educational improvement. Each practitioner whose studies I have supported has generated their own living theory of practice, which has strong implications for influencing learning within their own contexts, whether for themselves, for others, or for the education of the social formations of which they are a part (see for example Appendix 1 for the PhD completions at the University of Limerick). The idea of improvement cannot be reduced to an outcome that is worked towards as part of deliberate progress towards closure, given that it is premised on the idea of infinite development towards an unknown future whose validity can be judged in relation to the realisation of its underpinning values. Through encouraging all participants to investigate their practice and to offer their reflexive accounts of how they are realising their values in their practices, I believe I am encouraging the development of cultures of enquiry that are premised on the idea of the personal as political (Accone 2007: 45).

From learned stasis to dynamic engagement

I have learned from conversations with others, as well as from my own experiences, that many people, of all ethnic communities, have learned well the lessons of enforced helplessness. This is especially noticeable in black and mixed heritage communities in South Africa, in relation to the stripping away of their identity through the culturally acceptable practice of the label ‘non-white’, the certainty with which apartheid gave ethnic labels that entered everyday discourses, yet which identified large sections of the population in terms of what they were not. I have similar difficulties in my work in Ireland, when I am designated ‘English’, in spite of my Scottish heritage. While I do not necessarily define myself as Scots, I also do not define myself as English. However, this is probably a hangover from my earlier days when nationality was an issue of identity for me. Today it means little, since I have now reached a time where I define myself in terms of what makes my life worthwhile.

However, one of the factors that makes my life worthwhile is to encourage practitioners also to resist self-definition in terms of the identities that others construct for them, and, particularly important, not to be made invisible by identifying themselves in terms of what they are not, in the same way that ‘non-whites’ become invisible because their skins are dark. In conversations with teachers around the world I hear, ‘I am just a teacher,’ or ‘I am not an academic,’ where ‘academic’ is the norm, in the same way as ‘white’ was the norm in South Africa. Bourdieu (1990) speaks of a habitus into which we are all born, an idea that communicates not only social norms of how we should behave but also epistemological norms of how we should think. Many people are persuaded, by fair means or foul, to identify themselves in terms of that which they lack – colour, credentials, gender, intelligence … the list is endless. I do not see myself, or others, in relation to what we lack, but in terms of what we are, and what we can still be, our capacity for self-renewal. I resist these politics of identity that encourage learned helplessness and learned stasis through subscribing to epistemological norms, and I encourage cultures of dynamic engagement through an appreciation of self as unique, irreplaceable, and in a process of potentially infinite growth through learning. I engage fully with Arendt’s (1958) idea of the person as valuable in relation to their appearing on earth. No one needs to earn their place on earth; it is theirs, not by right or due, but by the fact of their being. I agree with O’Neill (2008) that the greatest disservice one person can do to another is to deny them their place, whether on a bus, in a university, or at their own birth. A colleague tells me how, as a South African woman of Indian origin, she was taken to a special unit within a traditionally white hospital to give birth to her child. No child should enter the world by permission. Each child is special in their own right, and grows, in their own right, as a person who is defined in terms of who they are, not who their ancestors were or what their special contribution may be. All are valuable, and should be understood as such.

From consumerism to knowledge production

The work I do is part of global initiatives to reconceptualise theory from its dominant propositional form to a living form, in which practitioners address questions of the kind, ‘How do I improve what I am doing?’ (Whitehead 1989), and offer their living theories of practice for their educational influences in learning. Schön (1995) called for a new epistemology for a scholarship of teaching, and the emerging accounts are contributing to a developing knowledge-base that addresses this call.

My research demonstrates the transformational influences of living forms of enquiry for the enhancement and legitimation of workplace-based learning, through the institutionalisation of dialogically-constituted communities of practice. It demonstrates the validity of person-centred forms of professional education for higher degree legitimation within a global context of a new scholarship of educational knowledge. The methodology is action research, involving the generation of accounts of practice that test the validity of values-based knowledge claims against rigorous evidence, while incorporating insights from influential contemporary social and activity theories. Findings are tested against negotiated criteria and living standards of judgement, and are then subjected to the critical scrutiny of others to test their social validity for academic legitimation.

The significance of the research lies in the capacity of practitioners to engage in communicative action for socio-cultural transformation, through the reconceptualisation of theory as a dynamic and relational form of educational enquiry. Processes of improving practice are directly related to knowledge-creation. This moves education from a culture of consumerism of others’ knowledge to the creation of one’s own knowledge, which is a far better basis for the transformation agenda of the new South Africa than a dependency on others’ knowledge as the basis of social transformation.

From dangerous freedoms to educational responsibility

The new South Africa is marked by a frightening lack of responsibility within the post-apartheid postmodern moment of freedom (Gaylard 2005), given the rising crime rate, the lack of stable points of reference, the rejection of authority, and the shifting of categories denoting socially-designated worth from race to economic stratification. In many quarters you are accepted not for the colour of your skin so much as the colour of your money. White people beg at the robots alongside their black brothers and sisters. A new form of social cohesion is found in poverty, if not in colour. Teacher colleagues tell me, and I have observed for myself, how learners wander corridors during lesson time; how learners are locked outside the school gates if late for school; how hundreds of children are disbarred from education when their parents cannot afford their schooling, or cannot get their children to school. I have seen the large numbers of learners in classrooms, and how many young people are influenced by cultures of gangsterism, drugs and transactional sex. Such freedoms can be dangerous, as Murdoch (2001) explains, when not accompanied by a sense of responsibility and an obligation to the other within a context of negotiated rule-governed communicative action (Habermas 2001).

On this view, democracy itself can be a dangerous freedom. Berlin (2002) explains how the imposition of freedom is no freedom for those on whom it is imposed, and Memmi (2003) would further argue that it is also no freedom for the one who imposes, since both parties are caught within a system of colonisation from which there is no escape other than through a critical reflection on their own situatedness and their willingness to collude in their own subjugation.

I ask myself, have I imposed freedom on those whose studies I support? Have I demanded of them that they think for themselves? Yes I have, yet not from the perspective of a coloniser. Some people dropped out of the masters project when they realised that it meant hard intellectual work; some preferred not to think for themselves, and decided to leave when it was clear that I was not going to do their thinking or writing for them. This was their choice. I now work with those who have chosen, quite deliberately, and in full awareness of what their choices are, to develop their capacity for knowledge creation, and to create their new social freedoms through creating their intellectual and emotional freedoms.

Conclusion

I like to think that this will be the legacy of this project, a case study of a new form of social transformation through educational enquiry, a focus on intellectual engagement on an invitational basis. This is the first time I have actively written about this project and its possible implications, but it will not be the last. I invite your critique, through this symposium, on the ideas communicated here, to provide a corrective steer to my own thinking, or perhaps to celebrate with me the achievements of two groups of remarkable people. I have learned much from this project, mainly about myself, and will continue with my action enquiry, and the creation of my own educational knowledge, as I continue to work with people who have become friends and colleagues, and who, I believe, no longer see me as other, and who are even prepared to welcome me into their midst. I may of course be mistaken, but until they tell me so, I shall go on believing that we have learned to share a common humanity through a common epistemology that resists difference on the grounds of colour, gender or nationality, and celebrates instead, as Gilroy (2004) would have it, our work as citizens in a troubled world, for whose making, as Polanyi (1958) says, we are not responsible but which determines our calling.

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Price, R. (1991) The Apartheid State in Crisis: Political Transformation in South Africa 1975–1990. New York, Oxford University Press.
Schön, D. (1995) ‘The New Scholarship Requires a New Epistemology’, in Change, November/December 27 (6) pp 27–34.
Sinclair, A. (2007) Practitioner Research and Knowledge Transfer. Assignment for Module 6 of the MA PVP programme, St Mary’s University College, Strawberry Hill, Twickenham.
Steenekamp, K. (2006) The Improvement of teaching practice in higher education. PhD thesis, Johannesburg, University of Johannesburg.
Thayer-Bacon, B. (2003) Relational (e)pistemologies. New York, Peter Lang.
Whitehead, J. (1989) Creating a Living Educational Theory from Questions of the Kind, ‘How do I improve my practice?’, Cambridge Journal of Education, Vol. 19, No. 1: 37–41.
Whitehead, J. (2004) ‘What counts as evidence in the self-studies of teacher education practices?’ in J. J. Loughran, M. L. Hamilton, V. K. LaBoskey and T. Russell (eds) International Handbook of Self-Study of Teaching and Teacher Education Practices. Dordrecht; Kluwer Academic Publishers, pp 871 –903.
Whitehead, J. and McNiff, J. (2006) Action Research: Living Theory. London, Sage.
Winter, R. (1989) Learning from Experience. London, Falmer.
Wood, L. (ed.) (2008, in production) Dealing with HIV & AIDS in the Classroom. Cape Town, Juta Academic.
Wood, L. A., Morar, R. & Mostert, L. (2007) From Rhetoric to Reality: The Role of Living Theory Action Research. Education as Change, Volume 11, No.2. pp. 67–80.

Appendix 1 Completed PhD theses from the University of Limerick

Cahill, M. (2007) My Living Educational Theory of Inclusional Practice. PhD thesis, University of Limerick. Retrieved 9th January 2008 from http://www.jeanmcniff.com/margaretcahill/index.html

Glenn, M. (2006) Working with collaborative projects: my living theory of a holistic educational practice. PhD thesis, University of Limerick. Retrieved 9th January 2008 from http://www.jeanmcniff.com/glennabstract.html

McDonagh, C. (2007) My living theory of learning to teach for social justice: How do I enable primary school children with specific learning disability (dyslexia) and myself as their teacher to realise our learning potentials? PhD thesis, University of Limerick. Retrieved 9th January 2008 from http://www.jeanmcniff.com/mcdonaghabstract.html

Roche, M. (2007) Towards a living theory of caring pedagogy: interrogating my practice to nurture a critical, emancipatory and just community of enquiry. PhD thesis, University of Limerick. Retrieved 9th January 2008 from http://www.jeanmcniff.com/MaryRoche/index.html

Sullivan, B. (2006) A living theory of a practice of social justice: realising the right of Traveller children to educational equality. PhD thesis, University of Limerick. Retrieved 9th January 2008 from http://www.jeanmcniff.com/bernieabstract.html

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