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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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Chapter 5 It’s Not Therapy, But …


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It’s Not Therapy, But …


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 or found it good to have an opportunity to talk about these issues. Such a reaction no longer surprises me, and most researchers have had similar experiences. It happened in the making of this book. When I say to Ron Best ‘Thank you so much’, he replies ‘Well, I’ve enjoyed it’ (in Chapter 3), and Shanaaz Hoosain finishes with ‘Thank you: it’s been helpful for me to find the words’ (in Chapter 7). Taking part in research can be valuable for the ‘researched’ as well as for the researcher. A focused conversation in order to gain some insight into an issue, can provide insight to both people. In such circumstances, the ‘interview’ might better be described as a ‘conversation’, and the talk can be described as ‘real dialogue’ (Buber 2002, p. 22). For Buber, real dialogue requires a ‘leap’ to another person. It is as an imaginative leap to the reality of the other person – Realphantasie – ‘not a looking at the other, but a bold swinging – demanding the most intensive stirring of one’s being – into the life of the other’ (Buber 1998, p. 71). Nel Noddings (in Chapter 2) described the...

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