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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 7. Teachers’ Lives, Professional Knowledge, Educational Reform

The Context for the Turn to Research on “Life Politics”


Chapter 7

Teachers’ Lives, Professional Knowledge, Educational Reform

Researching teachers’ lives is an enterprise fraught with danger but the alternative is, I think, more dangerous: to continue in substantial ignorance of those people who, in spite of the many historical shifts and cycles, remain central to achievement in the educational endeavour.

(Goodson, 1992c, pp. 15–16)

By the beginning of the 1990s Ivor no longer saw curriculum as a major site of contestation and he turned instead to the broad area of study that comes under the umbrella of “life politics,” which I discussed in Chapter 5 and which he defines as “the politics of identity construction and ongoing identity maintenance” (Goodson, 2005a, p. 181). This chapter will attend to the way in which he addressed these issues as they pertain to educational inquiry. It deals specifically with the period that began immediately after his most intense involvement with curriculum matters until he turned more explicitly to an engagement with narrative scholarship. This, roughly, covers the years from the beginning of the 1990s until the early years of the new millennium, although there is always considerable overlap and run off when academic attention shifts from one area to another. Watertight compartmentalizing is not possible—and neither would it reflect reality, which was somewhat messier than a progression narrative can convey. That said, the beginning of the 1990s saw Ivor focusing more intently on what can broadly be described as “teachers’ lives,” particularly...

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