A Post-Formal Inquiry
Critical reflection on my experience indicates that teachers are central to effective change. Their position in the hierarchy of education creates leverage opportunities in dealing with other stakeholders (specifically parents, students, and administrators). However, long-term change fails to occur for the following reasons: education is locked into a modernistic paradigm that is inappropriate for the postmodern problems education faces; teachers lack the power, skills, and knowledge to effect substantial change; and established professional development strategies perpetuate the two previously mentioned conditions.
These conclusions led to further questions. What understanding of change would career high school teachers who have shared the same change initiative construct? Through post-formal conversation, can teachers acquire the skills and knowledge that will inform their awareness and understanding of educational change? Can teachers become empowered through this post-formal process? Finally, is this post-formal process an appropriate professional development model for the postmodern condition?
Answering these questions necessitates an understanding of how career teachers view the change attempts in which they have participated. People other than teachers usually generate the countless theories and speculations concerning educational change. If teachers are central to an understanding of change, then an investigation is required into the interpretations and meanings that teachers construct about the change they experience.
My investigation has taken the form of a post-formal inquiry. One of the multiple purposes of Teacher Talk is to explicate and explore the potential of post-formal inquiry as an investigative and professional development model. An essential element of post-formal inquiry is the consideration of power. Power is seen as a ubiquitous entity that affects all meaning-making. This ubiquity of power leads to the premise that change