The Fragile Strengths of Self-Study: Making Bold Claims and Clear Connections
Few would question that self-study has come into its own; it is well established as a viable field of educational research. Not only is there a substantive body of literature accumulated over more than a decade and summarized in a two-volume international handbook (Loughran et al., 2004) but the work is also continuing in a newly established journal on the topic, in the Self-Study of Teacher Education Practices Special Interest Group of the American Educational Research Association, and elsewhere. The strengths of the methodology of self-study and its potential contributions to our understanding of learning to teach are apparent to many, including folks who have not to date considered themselves direct participants. For those of us who have been involved from the outset, we feel some relief that we can spend more of our time just doing the work, instead of expending great effort on defining the field or defending its existence.
But there is some danger in this orientation – danger of resting too much on our laurels and taking too much for granted. In the process of “just doing the work” we run the risk of letting the strengths of the field slip away, especially if we fail to draw and build upon them in concrete and explicit ways. It is in this light that I would like to consider the five chapters in Part III. All of them, as intended, have added to our knowledge of the processes of self-study and its role in the enhancement of teacher education, as I will highlight and summarize below. In the process of doing so, I will argue that all the authors could be bolder about the claims they are making and more explicit about the connections of their work to previous self-study formulations; I will also make some suggestions as to how they and others might go about doing so.
KeywordsTeacher Education Student Teacher Professional Identity Identity Development American Educational Research Association
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