Teachers as Researchers: Qualitative Inquiry as a Path to Empowerment

By Joe L. Kincheloe | Go to book overview

Chapter 2

Teachers as Researchers, Good Work, and Troubled Times

In light of the bizarre educational world shaped by positivistic top-down standards, it is important that we now turn our attention to a careful delineation of those forces that have been shaping the educational cosmos. We will focus on those powerful dynamics that shape education and our consciousness that are typically hidden from everyday experience. In this chapter we will study longer-term processes that create hierarchies which disempower teachers and produce irrational practices. It is extremely important that teacher researchers understand these issues, because such forces undermine their attempts to establish a new culture of the workplace that honors and respects teacher scholars. In such a new culture the needs of students could be better met and students who are now overlooked could gain new access to the benefits of education.


Exploring the Technicalized World: They Might be Experts

Many modern social scientists have observed a world marked by technicalization (and the technicalization of work in particular), a powerful mass communications industry which helps shape human interests and ideological orientations, and an increasing domination of individuals by groups with excessive power. The notion of knowledge has become a source of power in this society, as power is often acquired by those who by their economic position or their professional status announce just what is to be considered knowledge. Professionals in various fields determine 'healthy' child-rearing procedures, 'proper' family life, the nature of social deviance, and the form that work will take. Knowledge which must be certified by professionals results in anti-democratic tendencies as it renders individuals dependent upon experts.

Based on these observations, social scientists have become more and more attracted to visions of social research which are grounded in critical theory. These critical social inquirers are interested in questioning the dominant assumptions in modern industrialized societies, rejecting earlier constructions of meaning and value structures, and embarking on a quest

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