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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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Chapter 5. Life Politics

Why Life Politics?


Chapter 5

Life Politics

In short, externally imposed and directed change that fails to take sufficiently into account the “missions” of internal change agents and the increasing force of personal identity projects is likely to founder.

(Goodson et al., 2002, p. 1)

The purpose of this chapter is not exactly aligned to that of the chapters that follow, because the concept of life politics does not enable us to delineate a specific field of research and scholarship in the same way that Ivor’s work on curriculum or teachers’ lives or narrative does. Life politics is more in the way of an overarching idea, one that has been implicated in the substantive foci to which I will shortly turn and in the methodological genres that Ivor has employed. It is a shorthand, articulating the underlying precepts that, in Ivor’s view, should drive the kind of theory building that has relevance in the material world and it provides a vantage point from which the processes of exchange between the micro and the macro might be scrutinized. The reason I have interspersed my account of reading Ivor Goodson with stories about my own experiences and with stories Ivor has told about himself in his writings is precisely to instantiate this point, rather than to provide local color or details that might interest readers or to provide a spot of light relief from engagement with concepts and arguments (although I do think they are also useful...

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