Tag Archives: Social theory

Visiting as metaphor – developing a framework for reflective practice⤴

from @ Cat's eyes

Gillies, D., 2016. Visiting good company: Arendt and the development of the reflective practitioner. Journal of educational administration and history, 48(2), pp.148-159.

 

 

 

Hannah-Arendt by POLISEA – CC BY-NC-SA

This paper offers a critique of the notion of ‘reflective practice’ in the context of initial and early-stage teacher education. Reflective practice is a term which is frequently used throughout the career of a teacher; it is a practice which is encouraged in teacher education programmes on campus and in school experience. It is also a requirement of students and serving teachers if they are to meet the standards for registration, as stipulated by the General Teaching Council of Scotland (GTCS). They are exhorted to: ‘reflect and engage in self-evaluation using the relevant professional standard’ (GTCS 2012a), and for the standard of Career-Long Professional Learning, to ‘develop skills of rigorous and critical self-evaluation, reflection and enquiry’ (GTCS2012b). In spite of this central focus on reflection, aspects of teacher development and practice may leave some students and serving teachers feeling that there is insufficient discussion in their instructional and practical experience of what reflective practice is or how it might be achieved. Neither do systems and cultures best support reflection in context: the current emphasis on the evidence-based, best practice or ‘what works’ agenda supports the technical-rational–instrumentalist emphasis on craft, skills, and a cause and effect approach to practice, which leaves little room for consideration of wider aspects of pedagogical approaches.
Gillies (2016) draws on Arendt’s theory of enlarged thought –a theoretical concept with considerable philosophical pedigree, as it relays back to Kant and Aristole – to offer a conceptual framework which supports a progressive development of reflective practice, especially with regard to early-stage teachers and student teachers. This, to me, seems to be an extremely helpful mechanism in teaching and learning about the practice of reflection, developing experience in the consideration of alternative perspectives (‘visiting,’ loosely, in Arendt’s terms), and coming to judgement, as a key component of reflection, of the value and merits of the perspectives under consideration.
Engaging with these perspectives, in Gillies’ and Arendt’s terms, is the ‘company’ we keep; however, there are caveats. Keeping company of only known perspectives might limit our reflections and leave us in an echo-chamber, where our own biases and beliefs are confirmed and justified. That might be a comfortable environment for some, but for others this is an opportunity for challenging, professional conversations and debate; for contesting accepted beliefs and for ‘enlarging our thoughts,’ in  Arendt’s terms.
Here is Gilles’ framework for reflection, based on the ‘visiting’ metaphor, offered by Hannah Arendt (Gillies, 2016, p157).
gillies

I’d urge you to read the article if you have, like me, wrestled with the disconnect between expectations and support for the development of reflective practice in the early stages of learning about teaching.

P.S. Hannah Arendt was a political theorist known perhaps most widely for her analysis of the origins of totalitarianism. This Open Culture link provides useful insights to her thinking via an interview and further links.

References

GTCS. 2012a. Standards for Registration. Edinburgh: GTCS.

GTCS. 2012b. Standard for Career-Long Professional Learning. Edinburgh: GTCS.

Gillies, D., 2016. Visiting good company: Arendt and the development of the reflective practitioner. Journal of educational administration and history, 48(2), pp.148-159.

 


Making a case⤴

from @ Cat's eyes

IMAG0006_1I am on a bit of a PhD roll at the moment. I’ve been working on methodology, trying to structure a chapter and write a little bit every day. A lot of the writing involves re-writing, so sometimes it feels like it doesn’t amount to very much, but I’m trying to stick to a little each day – even if it’ s only 500 or 700 words. Things got a lot more exciting on Friday, with a superb, workshop facilitated by Pat Thomson. If you’re reading this blog, then you probably already know about her, but if you don’t, and you are involved in any kind of advanced study, then check her out – her advice is invaluable. Then there was the Dewey conference at my place of work, with keynotes by Richard Pring and Walter Humes; both insightful and inspirational. Today I’m interviewing participants – I’m terrified I don’t ask the right questions, or get useful data, or waste their time. Next week I’m going to Warwick University’s Centre for Social Ontology for a workshop with none other than Margaret Archer, then another UWS conference – this time on Foucault. So for the first time in a long time, I feel if not fully immersed in my study, then I’m definitely having a thoroughly good splash around. Most  ideas circulating around here are going to be directly relevant for me; some are not ( I have no intention of using Foucauldian concepts, for example), but the opportunity for sustained thinking and engagement with scholarly  concepts and content has been a joy, and I need to make the most of it.

Here’s a short extract on what I’ve been writing about my methodology.

Methodology: case study design

The methodological intention for this study is case study methodology. This methodology lends itself to small-scale research, and it provides the scope for a deep understanding of complex phenomena within their context (Baxter and Jack; 2008). According to Stake, case study methodology applies a focus on that which is specific, unique and bounded (Stake, 2005).Yin offers a typology of case studies using various categories: single or multiple, descriptive or exploratory (Yin, 2014:11). As this study is considering the case of teacher collaborative working practices in different settings, this would be defined in Yin’s terms as a multiple exploratory case study. Collaborative events taking place within individual structures such as a school, with their inherent and individual cultural conditions lend themselves to this methodology, as it allows a detailed examination of a contemporary phenomenon (Yin 2014) as it takes place across a range of research sites.

Flyvbjerg  argued a coherent defence of case study methodology, outlining five common misunderstandings of this methodology, identifying these as: the lack of generalisability of the case-study; the perceived predisposition towards verification of researcher bias in this methodology and the perceived inherent difficulty of summarizing and developing general propositions and theories in case study (Flyvbjerg 2006).

Similar to Baxter and Jack (2008); Yin (2014) and Stake (2005,) Flyvbjerg (2006) celebrates the value of the case study in terms of richness, depth of detail and proximity to real-life situations description which it can help achieve. He draws on Wittgenstein and Goffman to illustrate how when properly conducted, the case study can provide the necessary examples of context-dependent social phenomena in all their messy complexity, as the researcher seeks to go beyond ‘what is available to public scrutiny’ (Flyvbjerg, 2005:24) and explore what is  less immediately visible within them; their underlying aspects. Thus, this case study seeks to examine in close detail examples of collaborative practices of teachers; going beyond what is visible and exploring their underlying mechanisms, the hidden aspects of the processes involved in context-dependent situations.

 

Boundaries

The boundaries of the case in question need some definition. As previously discussed, the phenomenon under scrutiny in this case is a practice. My intention was to undertake research in two schools involved in this practice. As discussed, LR are a form of professional learning communities (PLCs) for teachers, sometimes referred to as teacher learning communities (TLCs); Because of difficulties experienced which have been explained, this plan needed to change to include a wider interpretation of collaborative working practices. Thus the boundaries of this case had changed from that of a discreet identifiable practice, which was named and programmed to occur at specific times within the school routine, to the broader, more generic collaborative working practices undertaken in teacher learning communities. New boundaries were established. Little (2003) studied interactions inside teacher communities and established a set of parameters within which the wider interpretation of collaborative practices were located. These included: out of classroom interactions; teacher development in everyday work, and the intellectual, social and material resources that teachers supplied each other with through interaction. These concepts are helpful in identifying boundaries for this case study.

Out of classroom interactions can be formal (at planned and organised events or meetings, in school or out of school, for example), or informal (chance exchanges in the staffroom or corridor).  The resources that teachers supply each other with can be intellectual (a comment, question or reflection verbally developed through conversation) or material, involving a product such as a book, artefact or report. Teacher development in everyday work would involve articulating observations and reflections on aspects of practice. Thus, the case has boundaries which include planned meetings and discussions; documents, including archives from previous collaborative work, policy documents, reports and teachers’ reflections on practice.

 

Baxter, P. and S. Jack (2008). “Qualitative case study methodology: Study design and implementation for novice researchers.” The qualitative report 13(4): 544-559.

Flyvbjerg, B. (2006). “Five misunderstandings about case-study research.” Qualitative Inquiry 12(2): 219-245.

Little, J., 2003. Inside teacher community: Representations of classroom practice. The Teachers College Record, 105(6), pp.913-945.

Stake, R.E. (1995). The art of case study research. Sage.

Yin, R.K. (2013). Case study research: Design and methods. Sage publications.


Approaches to educational research⤴

from @ Cat's eyes

Busy day today but thankfully it didn’t involve 8am pre-exam piano lessons for my son, a lost schoolbag, piano exams, bashed cars, builders de-constructing my kitchen, emergency visits to the optician and meetings with students about laggy attendance. Like yesterday did –  before lunchtime. It did involve a supervision meeting and a research seminar. My supervision meeting with both supervisors provided the right amount of inspiration, affirmation and questions about possibilities: it was really quite significant in that the discussion around the field work I’ve done so far points towards a possible re-framing of my project into more of an action/participatory research orientated one rather than a case study. I’ve assembled some methodological reading on this and am really quite excited about it as it’s turned up a whole new dimension to my project. However this research project turns out I really want it to make a useful and maybe even usable contribution to what we already know about teacher professional learning. That, I feel is the very least I can do to justify the time and effort it will take me and everyone else who invests in me by indulging my pursuit of something I’m interested in.
There is no baseline indicator of the usefulness of educational research. There are checks and balances which serve as quality indicators like the Vitae framework which elaborates SCQF level 12; review processes; the involvement of external examiners; peer review etc but usefulness or impact of a piece of work is not always the same as its quality. To be fair, the impact agenda in research is now a massive concern of funding bodies like the ESRC and of universities for formal research excellence assessment processes and maybe that’s the same thing, I’m not sure. I see impact as a changing effect that happens as a reaction to or interaction with something.
Capture
The impact debate in academia is heated and polemic and I don’t want to open it up here, but I would like to ponder for a moment the usefulness of educational research. If research isn’t useful and useable (to paraphrase Margaret Archer talking about social theory) does it amount to anything other than self-indulgence? I listened to a talk today about a study  from a post-human perspective in the HE context and I found myself asking this question more than once. Foucault, Barad, Deleuze and Guitarri, Lather, Neitsche, Lyotard, Haraway, Bennett, Heidegger and Kant among others were all referenced but I still didn’t really understand what this study actually found out and what its contribution was. I might be wrong, but I’d be surprised if anyone did because the presenter didn’t actually tell us. I didn’t really grasp what questions the study was asking. I’ve listened to talks about educational research projects like this before, where theoretical work eclipses the empirical to such a degree that the participants who took part in the study are barely acknowledged and their voices so feebly represented that they really might as well not be there at all. For me there is an ethical issue here about using people’s time as well as the usefulness question. I fully accept that some studies make a theoretical contribution and not an empirical one, but again I would refer to Margaret Archer’s axiom I paraphrased earlier- a social theory should be useful and useable. If this isn’t the case, there are questions remaining as to purpose and also for me the question of when in academia does usefulness stop and self-indulgence begin? I will make it my pledge to try to always stay on the right side of that line – if it exists.


Progress!⤴

from @ Cat's eyes

My progress review was two weeks ago and I passed. I knew where I would be challenged, and I knew where I was strong. The challenges left me feeling a bit exposed (in methodology and analysis especially) and this is where I need to focus my attention. Even in the short time that’s passed though I’ve gone back to some readings and papers and feel more secure in my understanding of critical realism. In the last post I mentioned I needed to do more work on  methodology.  Post – review, I know I still need to explain methodology in clearer terms, and in particular to highlight the ways in which it relates to my research questions and how both of these inform the methods I choose. Therefore, a piece of more extended writing on methodology, a clearer articulation of my research questions and a set of methods which will elicit the answers to the questions I want to ask is now required, with a degree of urgency as I’m hoping to get started on the empirical work very soon.

Structure, culture and agency

In discussion with my supervisor today we talked in detail about the key concepts of critical realism of structure, culture and agency and how to define them. Culture in CR terms is an independent realm of  ideas and knowledge (Archer 1995) which can sometimes conflict with each other, as in for example, a new set of cultural forms such as a new curriculum. This can offer a challenge to existing cultural forms and ideas ( i.e. existing ideas about curriculum) but  can also result in complementarities and/or tensions. The new cultural forms might  replace the old ones ( archetype A in Archer 1995) but a straightforward replacement is unlikely. Alternatively the new ideas could be entirely rejected, but this is also unlikely; what tends to happen is a hybridisation, mixing and matching of old and new, where existing cultures might change as a result of exposure to the  new culture.

Structure is a bit more slippery.  Social structure means systems of human relationships  amongst social positions (Porpora 2000). The relationships within a system can be understood by the ways in which the connections operate i.e. the relationships can be strong or weak; symmetrical,  where power, trust or respect passes back and forth between two individuals, or asymmetrical where power flows in one direction only. What passes between two individuals is an emergent property of their interaction. Structure exists independently of culture, but there is interaction between the two. The interactions will be key to my study.

Dave Elder Vass (2007) develops this conception of  social relationships to include both the people in the relationship and  the emergent powers of the interactions between them. He uses the term “people in community” to signify this more developed idea of  social structure.

Archer’s model of analytical dualism offers a  way of understanding structure and culture as autonomous systems whereby culture influences interaction through ideas; structure influence actions through power and individuals influence interactions through their own capacities, skills or knowledge. The interaction of these three separate but connected domains is central to this model. Interactions between the three domains is described in CR terms as  morphogenesis/morphostasis. Interactions are key here as they provide a methodological point of entry (Scott, 2009), and for my study, this will be a major focus.

Morphogenesis describes what happens when the three domains act upon each other. In the social interaction whereby an individual meets cultural forms and social structures, each element acts upon the other, and in the process of interacting,

Ideas can therefore be held in place by power structures, but the power structures can also reinforce the ideas. Think of South Africa pre-1996, for example. Change happens in the interaction between all three domains. So a series of interactions of individuals with structures and cultural conditions might result in emergent properties or powers which may bring about change in each domain. This could be described in Archer’s terms as a morphogenetic loop or cycle which over time,  might result in significant change.

Morphostasis would represent the same interactions resulting in reproduction, not change of existing norms, ideas (culture) and structure (relationships).

I need to develop a method that is systematic and congruent with CR for my study. My research questions need to reflect this more clearly. The task is underway!

PS: I knew my evidence of critical literature review was strong; they asked me if I’d be happy for a section of it to be made available to a final module in one of the professional learning programmes going on for teachers in the school. Of course I was: it’s here if anyone is interested:Excerpt from doctoral review report 2014 Please cite appropriately if you feel the urge :)


Supervision meeting 26th May 2014⤴

from @ Cat's eyes

The pace of things is increasing in advance of my forthcoming review and the agenda for this meeting was focused more or less on my draft report which I need to submit 2 weeks before the meeting. My date is August 28th, so I have all summer to stress about this.

So as my project gathers pace I need to think more and more concretely about it, tighten the focus on what questions I am going to ask and make sure the methodology supports and articulates with the literature and questions I’m asking.  I’m hoping for a successful outcome to the review – this will mean that I am deemed competent enough to conduct the research I’m proposing and the decision will be made on how well I can justify the choices I’m making about every aspect of the project design so far. So all going well I’ll be able to pilot some methods early next school session and begin fieldwork sometime after that, hopefully around September.

I submitted a draft report for discussion at this meeting. Discussion with Mark was as usual hugely helpful and encouraging. There is work to be done but apparently it’s about 90% of the way there.  I know what I need to do. Certain parts of its need re-structuring or refocusing and I need to align my research questions more closely with my methodology. And I need to flesh out my methodology.

I will be doing a case study which is underpinned by critical realism as a theoretical framework and the methodology will be congruent with this.  I’ve been skirting around critical realism for a while and it’s only now that I am really beginning to see how useful it will be for me. I think part of my avoidance has been the language and expression of some of the writing – not the most accessible, but in terms of theory and philosophy I guess it’s never going to be easy.

So after discussion I have a clearer understanding of what purpose it will serve. What I want to look at is learning rounds as social processes – interactions among humans within existing structures and conditions. Critical realism, and in particular Margaret Archer’s model of analytical dualism gives me a way to frame this study and analyse the processes involved in these interactions and observe what changes might or might not be taking place. . From what I know about the literature around professional learning communities so far is that most of it is  a-theoretical, only some of it is empirically based and little of it looks at the actual processes involved in the work these PLCs do. My study aims to illuminate these processes. It will hopefully provide some new empirical knowledge which is supported by social theory for an under-researched area. Having already conducted a literature review into learning rounds and instructional rounds I can say with certainty that no empirical studies have been carried out into this and reached publication. Only five peer-reviewed papers were identified to consider as part of this literature review.  I hope that the work I’m about to embark on will ultimately provide something useful for the profession that will be recognised as an academically sound piece of research. Let the grafting begin!


Seminar series: Professor Peter Mayo 28/3/2014⤴

from @ Cat's eyes

We had a guest speaker at the latest in our research seminar series.  Professor Peter Mayo is Head of Education at the University of Malta and he was talking about his latest book, The Politics of Indignation. This talk was concerned with one specific chapter in the book on migration in southern Europe.  Critical pedagogy, sociology of education and social theory feature as his research interests.

It was clear from the beginning that we would be presented with a radical perspective on what is an utterly desperate situation.  Professor Mayo opened with a shocking statistic: 20 000 migrants have drowned in their attempts to cross the Mediterranean from Africa to southern Europe in the last 20 years. That’s 1000 bodies per year. And these are the ones who had survived war, rape, the desert, the journey to the coast. It couldn’t really be any further from the idealised image of the Med more commonly suggested in the media, and also perhaps reflected in many people’s holiday experiences or aspirations.  I have been aware of reports of dead refugees washed up on southern Italian beaches and , and have read Partir, a moving, tragic but excellent fictionalised account by Moroccan author Tahar Ben Jelloun of a migrant’s attempt to cross the Straits of Gibraltar. This isn’t mainstream fiction however, (not available in translation into English) and the aforementioned reports aren’t commonplace in the UK.

The migration debate is topical. It’s a policy which is supported by the SNP, but hasn’t really surfaced as a major feature of their independence campaign yet. Maybe it never will. The arguments to support it are usually economic. Migrants are trafficked as human commodities in order to provide a cheap and necessary source of labour in a globalised economy.  Colonialism alone is not to blame for the wretchedness suffered by these people in their quest to find the better life in the promised land of their colonial power.  The problem is they too often find the Promised Land has closed its doors to them; the discourses of security treat them as criminals and rob them of their dignity, their possessions and even their freedom to express themselves in direct defiance of the Geneva Convention. Political intransigence inside Europe on this issue has created a value system which prioritises security over human life and the perversity of globalisation has made both a necessity and an object of loathing out of the migrant among some (perhaps working class) communities – divide and rule.

The discussion opened up into a broader treatment of activism and groundswell movements, and neo-liberalism in higher education and how globalisation is working to marginalise radicalism and social justice in research and recruitment.   It was a fascinating session, and a real pleasure to meet Professor Mayo. He was hopeful that in Scotland we have values in our education system which might mitigate the appalling racism he described. Whether we do or not, we certainly have a responsibility to ensure that inter-ethnicity is developed in a positive way.

There are some signs of hope. One of them for me is the fantastic work done by a close friend of mine, Maggie Lennon in the Bridges Programmes she set up and manages. Bridges find employment and education opportunities for refugees and asylum seekers. It has many successes to boast of and should be celebrated as a shining example of social entrepreneurship working for justice and integration. There is so much scope for educators to learn from this project, and maybe vice-versa.  There’s also a massive need for more programmes like Bridges if migrants are to be considered as more than economic commodities in Scotland, and elsewhere.

 


Derrida⤴

from @ Cat's eyes

Deconstructions

Our next PhD workshop approaches and this time as well as sharing some of our own writings, outlines of our studies and other readings we will be having a go at Derrida. I was almost looking forward to this one, since I did a bit of dabbling with deconstruction in the latter stages of my undergraduate degree, but that was a long time ago. It was very current at the time though (late 80s). I took a trip to Paris in my final year to meet with the poet I was investigating as the subject of my dissertation. I got a flight for £19 and stayed free of charge in the famous Shakespeare and Company bookshop. I also went to a Derrida talk – it was somewhere near Les Halles, and disappointingly I can’t remember much about it except for his wild hair and lots of enthusiastic fawning students, with whom he engaged very openly, a bit like the students in this documentary.

 

Deconstruction rejects the certainties of critical theories (binaries and hierarchies like class structure, gender etc) and offers an undefined “other” ontology. The other; L’autre, or l’avenant as Derrida has sometimes referenced disrupts our experience of how language constructs and gives meanings to reality, by opening up spaces beyond traditional understandings. There is a strong focus on discourses and texts in deconstruction, but Derrida would claim that discourses are never mere linguistic entities, they organize our ways of thinking so that they become ways of acting in the world. This interplay between concepts and texts is mentioned in Merceica (2011) as “being both inseparable and mutually contaminating for each other.” (p 201) In 12 lecons de Philosophie, Derrida exemplifies this in his essay “le langage” by (de)constructing the essay around the telephone conversation he has with the commissioning editor inviting his contribution. The effect is challenging and readable and it left me with a feeling that the philosophy I was trying to understand was embedded, or internal to the text, not conceptually represented by it or external to it, if that makes any sense.

We are reading the three Derrida chapters in Murphy (2013), which offer practical and theoretical interpretations of Derrida.  Irwin (2013) attempts to make connections between Marxism and deconstruction in educational research. I’m not massively convinced about this, but that is probably more a reflection of my own limited understanding of this philosophy. Although there is a radical dimension to his work I haven’t been struck by any overtly political references in Derrida, whether that might be class structures or calls to arms. I’m looking forward to hearing what the others have to say on this.

There is also a commonality running across at least 3 of the readings, and that is that Derrida is being used as a response to some sort of constraint, and in doing this, new knowledge is allowed to develop. I wonder how this connects to the justice/social justice dimensions of research, and I think this might be why the connection with feminist analytical approaches might be so clear (if it is clear!).

The other readings deal with more practical examples: a deconstructivist approach to a new geography curriculum in NE England, and a piece on using Derrida with student teachers in reflective writing  Winter (2013) gave a really helpful practical example of “praxis” – the reciprocity of theory and practice which had been discussed in Irwin (2013) as she described the process she and colleagues went through to deconstruct their traditional (constrained) understanding of the geography curriculum and open up a new space  for this work – they created an “other. ” This was not a new version of a known script, it was something different altogether, with new epistemologies of geography and new understandings of school policy, practice, structures and culture.  It’s been claimed that deconstruction is not a process or a theory to be overlaid on some project – Winter shows in this study how the lived experience of deconstruction (what I understand as the “metaphysics of deconstruction” (Winter 2013, p197)) gives rise to “the other.” I’m not sure that the personification of the other is altogether helpful. Would it be easier to understand as a state of being – otherness, for example, rather than a being itself?

Other (!) readings to be re-visited will include Ian Munday (2013) on Derrida, Teaching and the Context of Failure, some more on methods of writing and our own critical shared writing with colleagues, as well as an outline of our individual studies. The pace of things is beginning to change, I’m hoping I’ll be in a position to start moving ahead with my study very soon, All this philosophy is great fun but I need to be getting on!

Derrida, J 1985: Douze leçons de philosophie. La découverte/Le Monde, Paris

Irwin, J, 2013: Derrida and educational research: an introduction in In Murphy, M (ed) Social Theory and Educational Research, Routledge, Abingdon 2013 p 171 -183.

Merceica, D, 2013: Engaging with student teachers on reflective writing: reclaiming writing: in In Murphy, M (ed) Social Theory and Educational Research, Routledge, Abingdon 2013,  p 200 -211.

Munday, I 2011: Derrida, teaching and the context of failure, Oxford Review of Education, 37:3 403-419

Winter, C, 2013: Derrida meets Dracula in the geography classroom.  In Murphy, M (ed) Social Theory and Educational Research, Routledge, Abingdon 2013 p 184-199.


Supervision 2: Slight change of course⤴

from @ Cat's eyes

The Splits by Ian Sane
Attribution License

I came to today’s discussion with a degree of trepidation and some concerns about my study, its focus and research questions that have been rumbling around for a while. I’ve been reading literature on social theory (Archer 1998; Foucault, Bourdieu in Murphy, 2013) theoretical literature on professional learning communities and professional learning(Stoll 2006; Webster-Wright; Watson, 2012); professional learning communities in practice (Coburn,2008; Priestley,2010; Horn & Little, 2009) organisational learning (Boreham & Morgan, 2004, Imants)and methodology literature (Flyvjberg in Denzin & Lincoln, 2011). All of this was within the context of learning rounds as a model of professional learning communities. But I felt I was not getting the right purchase on this literature -something was orbiting around my thoughts looking for a place to land but not finding it.
Last night I attended the Selmas Spring Forum – a most civilised event involving dinner and several speakers on the subject of Transforming Schools – ambition and reality? There was a lot of chat about Learning Rounds at my table and one of the speakers focused on this for her perspective of transforming schools. There is undoubtedly a lot of enthusiasm within the educational community for Learning Rounds – it seems to offer teachers and leaders a workable response to many of the policy and practice imperatives currently circulating. But more and more I am getting the impression that Learning Rounds as they are currently practised are more an event,and less the embodiment of a learning community. This is a hunch – as far as I know it has not been researched. My own research into Learning Rounds focused on protocols and practice, with reference specifically to how the LR was established and what went on at the discussion stage of the process. I don’t see a problem here (except the lack of research) but it does make my approach to the literature so far look a bit off track.
So in discussion today with Mark thoughts started to crystallise a bit. Maybe I should refocus the study onto educational change processes and how policies migrate and refract through the various stages of implementation and interpretation they go through. Learning Rounds would provide an interesting example of this, as a practice which was adapted originally from the medical world, exported, adopted by policy makers, then refracted into different contexts and social practices in schools. Archer’s theory of morphogenesis and morphostasis – how agents act upon structures and change them, resulting in both elements being changed, and this process being repeated over time – affords a framework for a detailed analysis of change processes(this is sketchy – I will need to read much further into this)which fits well with a Learning Rounds-as-travelling policy-or-practice conceptualisation.
So I am going to refocus my reading onto educational change literature, and reframe my questions around aspects of policy intentions and social practices; to what extent are we seeing morphogenetic (or morphostatic) changes in the policy and what effects are these changes having on the social practices involved in Learning Rounds?
Next task – shape up the RQs properly and make a start on the literature review.

ARCHER, M et al.,(ed) 1998. Critical Realism: essential readings

BOREHAM, N. and MORGAN, C., . A sociocultural analysis of organisational learning. Oxford Review of Education, 2004: 30(3), pp. 307-325.

COBURN, C and RUSSELL, J.L.,  District Policy and Teachers’ Social Networks Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis;2008 30; 203

DENZIN, N.K. and LINCOLN, Y.S., eds, 2011. The Sage Handbook of Qualitative Research. 4 edn. Thousand Oaks, California, USA: SAGE.

MURPHY, M (ed) Social Theory and Education Research. 2013

HORN, I.S. and LITTLE, J.W., 2009. Attending to Problems of Practice: Routines and Resources for Professional Learning in Teachers’ Workplace Interactions. American Educational Research Journal, 47(1), pp. 181-217.

IMANTS, J. and VAN VEEN, K., 2009. Teacher Learning as Workplace Learning. In: N. VERLOOP, ed, International Encyclopaedia of Teacher Education. 3 edn.

PRIESTLEY, M. :Schools, teachers and curriculum change: a balancing act. J Educ Change: 2011, 12, 1-23

STOLL, L., BOLAM, R., MCMAHON, A., WALLACE, M. and THOMAS, S., 2006. Professional Learning Communities: A Review of the Literature. Journal of Educational Change, 7(4), pp. 221-258.

WATSON, C., 2010. Educational policy in Scotland: inclusion and the control society. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 31(1), pp. 93-104.

WEBSTER-WRIGHT, A., 2009. Reframing Professional Development Through Understanding Authentic Professional Learning. Review of Educational Research, 79(2), pp. 702-739.