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Virtuous Educational Research

Conversations on Ethical Practice


Julian Stern

This is a book of conversations with researchers working across Europe, the USA and Africa. It aims to illuminate the lived reality of educational research on a wide variety of topics, including family life in rural South Africa, support for self-harming students in the UK, character development in the USA and Korea, educational leadership in the UK and China, philosophical analysis of education policy, and much more.
The book is for and about researchers and is built around a set of conversations with the author – a fellow researcher. Researchers work at the frontiers of our knowledge and understanding of the world, and frontiers can be dangerous places. How are the researchers’ personal qualities – virtues such as courage, honesty and kindness – tested and exemplified in their work? The conversations presented here explore the experience of research and ask what qualities are needed, or wished for, in order to successfully face its challenges. There are many books that include lists of what to do and what not to do when carrying out research. Here, in contrast, we find out what really happens and why – and what it takes to keep going.


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Part III. Building Relationships


Part III Building Relationships The definition of research I am using in this book (‘a process of investigation leading to new insights, effectively shared’, Hefce 2011, p. 48) is focused – interestingly – on insights, rather than knowledge. (Here is an alternative: research is work ‘to acquire new knowledge’ or ‘for the advancement of knowledge’, OECD 2007, p. 61 and p. 634 respectively.) ‘Insight’ is a ‘pen- etrating understanding’: ‘understanding into the inner character or hidden nature of things’, and in earlier times also meant ‘wisdom’ (OED 2005). ‘Knowledge’, wonderful as it is, is often used in the sense of having acquired a fact. It is a somewhat less engaging term. I like the idea of research leading us into the inner character of things – the inner character of things and of people, including ourselves. Research is engaging, even though it can also be lonely – as Lander Calvelhe, Sr Agnes Wilkins and Lāsma Latsone (in Chapters 5, 7 and 8, respectively) all mention. The theme that links the conversations in this part of the book is how research involves build- ing relationships. These may be relationships between the researcher and research participants, with other researchers and professional practition- ers, or with oneself. Chapter 5 It’s Not Therapy, But … Introduction When I first interviewed people, as part of a research process, I would conclude the interview thanking the interviewee for having taken part. It surprised me how many people responded by thanking me, in turn, saying how much they enjoyed the interview...

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