Conversations on Ethical Practice
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.
Chapter 4 Inside Out: Orthodoxy and its Alternatives in Educational Research
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Inside Out: Orthodoxy and its Alternatives in Educational Research
This third set of conversations, completing Part II of the book, explores what has been referred to as the ‘insider/outsider’ problem in humanities research. Insiders may have special knowledge and access and understanding, yet their position may bring with it bias and a failure to achieve critical distance. Outsiders may have independence and critical distance, yet their position may bring with it an inability to understand. Researchers have written widely on these issues (McCutcheon 1999 on religion, McDonald 1989 and Crossley et al. 2016 on education), on how outsiders can become temporary insiders through setting aside their assumptions (as in phenomenological epoché) in order to understand ‘as an insider’, and on how insiders can avoid some of the potential biases (through the use of external reference points). Being ‘orthodox’ in the ordinary sense implies being something of an insider, holding ‘currently accepted opinions’ (OED 2005). In Peterson’s list of virtues, it is contrasted with a ‘love of learning’ (Peterson, in Csikszentmihalyi and Csikszentmihalyi 2006, p. 39). This is interesting, but a little odd: must the orthodox be rejected by all learners?
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