Teachers and research – the paradoxes

While completing some study on ‘Teacher Growth and Change’, we were asked to read an article about some seeming paradoxes around the idea of teachers conducting research. Here they are:

‘Paradox  #1: It must be mandated; it can’t be mandated’

‘Paradox #2: It must be championed by a strong principal; it can’t be owned by the principal’

‘Paradox #3: There must be an outside actor; the outside actor’s role is questionable’

‘Paradox #4: Teachers must learn research skills; teachers must trust their own knowledge so as not to be overwhelmed by the things they need to learn’

‘Paradox #5: Teachers’ teaching changes profoundly; teachers say their research confirms things they already knew’

‘Paradox #6: For it to work as a whole school reform, teacher research must be woven into the fabric of the school culture; teacher research is contrary to the culture of schools’

…from ‘Teacher research and school change: paradoxes, problems and possibilities’ by Jennifer Garvey Berger, Katherine C. Boles and Vivian Troen, pp 93 – 205 in Teaching and Teacher Education, Volume 21, Issue 1, January 2005

Having undertaken a few Practitioner Inquiry projects, I find all of these ring true, with perhaps the exception of paradox 6. For several years, teacher research was woven into the culture of the school and I find this makes a positive difference to what a school thinks is achievable in teaching and learning.