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Reading and Teaching Ivor Goodson


Yvonne Downs

Ivor Goodson is an immense and vital contributor to the study of education and to educational research. His influence extends across continents, taking in theory and practice, and including topics as diverse as curriculum history and the history of school subjects; change management and reform; teachers’ lives and careers; professional and learning identities; narrative and educational policy and life politics. To all this he brings a coherence born of his convictions and his commitment to social justice. This book traces the contours of his morally inflected approach to scholarship, highlighting its contribution to a politics of transformation, all the while acknowledging and encapsulating the practical, passionate, principled humanity that continues to drive Goodson’s scholarship.
This book will be of interest to students and teachers of education, to teachers and educational researchers, as well as to those with a passion for the history and politics of education.


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I want to go on living my own intellectual project. (Goodson, 2011, p. 8) Ivor Goodson is one of the most important thinkers and researchers on edu- cation and schooling of our times. His paper ―Life Histories and the Study of Schooling‖ (1980–1981) rehabilitated life history methodology, establishing it as a critical approach to educational research. His book on the social con- struction and social histories of the curriculum, School Subjects and Curricu- lum Change, first published in 1983, secured his immediate elevation to the rank of professor, the ink on his PhD being barely dry. Since then Ivor has worked continuously and with unwavering commitment as, to use his own terms, a public intellectual. His output is prodigious. His reach, both geo- graphically and intellectually, is awe-inspiring. He has broken fresh ground theoretically, particularly but by no means exclusively in the areas of curricu- lum and narrative and in conceptualizing change. Methodologically he has revitalized research agendas, insisting, for example, that including teachers and other public service professionals, their lives, dreams, and politics, is crucial to formulating, implementing, and analyzing public, particularly edu- cational, policy. Bringing his historian’s orientation to empirical research and his historian’s concern for context and supporting documentation to sociolog- ical perspectives, he argues that the success, but more often the failure, of educational reform is traceable in no small way to the people who are re- sponsible for its implementation on a daily basis. Their mediating influence is what counts in evaluations of efficacy,...

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