Show Less

Doing Critical Educational Research

A Conversation with the Research of John Smyth


John Smyth, Barry Down, Peter McInerney and Robert Hattam

John Smyth’s remarkable body of writing, research and scholarship has spanned four decades, and the urgency of our times makes it imperative to look in some depth at the breadth of his research and its trajectory, in order to see how we can connect, extend, build and enrich our understandings from it. Possibly the single most unique aspect to Smyth’s version of critical research is his passion for living and ‘doing’ what it means to be a critical pedagogue. For him, ‘doing’ is a verb that gives expression to what he believes it means to be a critical scholar. This necessitates actively listening to lives; taking on an advocacy position with informant groups; displaying a commitment to praxis; and being activist in celebrating ‘local responses’ to global issues. Smyth’s research is pursued with vigour through the lives he researches, as he interrupts and punctures ‘bad’ theory, supplanting it with more democratic alternatives, which, by his own admission, makes his research (and all research), political.


Show Summary Details
Restricted access



This book is the culmination of a longstanding relationship founded on a commit- ment to creating a more humane, democratic and socially just school. The ideas driving this intellectual labour and enduring friendship originated about twenty- five years ago and continues today in various collaborative research projects, publi- cations, conferences, and workshops across three Australian states. The fact that a book of this nature can be written in an era of rampant individualism, competition and commodification of academic labour is testimony to the enduring passion, doggedness and scholarship championed so adeptly by John Smyth. This book is, therefore, a rare opportunity for us to come together and reflexively describe our experience of ‘doing’ critical educational research in uncertain times. We hope the book can serve as a useful resource in terms of ideas and inspiration for students, practitioners and colleagues wanting to pursue a critical research agenda in their own schools and communities. Above all, we hope it will inspire a spirit of ‘intel- lectual rebellion’ (Thomas, 1993) and ‘playfulness of mind’ (Mills, 1971) among educational researchers as an antidote to virulent forms of positivist research cur- rently holding sway in official circles. At the outset, we are pretty clear about what we don’t want to do. We are loath to write yet another text on ‘how-to-do’ research. We believe critical research is xiv | doing critical educational research far too complex and sophisticated to slavishly follow some kind of ‘methods fetish’ (Bartolome, 1994) or checklist of instructions. Instead, we attempt...

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.

Do you have any questions? Contact us.

Or login to access all content.