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Claims Of Narrative Inquiry In Teacher Education

By Author: Alex Lee
Total Articles: 367

There are substantial claims made about the value of narrative inquiry for teachers in both the theoretical and empirical literature on language teacher education. These can be summarized as follows: Replica IWC Portuguese

1.Narrative inquiry is reflective inquiry. Through constructing, sharing, analysing and interpreting their teaching stories, teachers get the opportunity to reflect on their own practice and to articulate their interpretations of this practice. Constructing and thinking about stories in this way, therefore, involves both introspection and interrogation.

2.And the consequence of this is meaning making; in other words, making sense or gaining an understanding of one's teaching knowledge and practice.

3.The result of this deeper understanding is change; change within self and one's practice. Johnson and Golombek (op. cit: 4) make this point, saying, 'inquiry into experience ... can be educative if it enables us to reflect on our actions and then act with foresight'. When teachers articulate and interpret the stories of their practice, their own practice, they develop their personal practical knowledge to the extent that they act in the future with insight and foresight.

4.As we know, this is not always easy to do. Any teaching situation is a complex, dynamic arrangement of many factors. In constructing stories teachers bring together many of these, and in reflecting on the stories there exists the potential for them, therefore, to see the whole picture. So, as opposed to focusing on only one or two isolated variables in a particular context, stories include many of these linked together, and the process of making sense of the stories means unravelling this complexity.

5.Narrative inquiry is contextualized inquiry. Calls for a context approach to language teaching highlight the necessity of placing context at the heart of the profession (Bax 2003:278), which involves teachers exploring the numerous aspects of their particular, local contexts such as the needs and wants of their students, the teaching resources and facilities available, the school and community culture, existing syllabuses and language-in-education policies, as well as the wider sociopolitical context (even at the level of the state) in which the teaching and learning take place. The aim here is to emphasize the particularity' of teaching, one aspect of what Kumaravadivelu (2006:69) calls a postmethod pedagogy: Particularity seeks to facilitate the advancement of a context-sensitive, location-specific pedagogy that is based on a true understanding of local linguistic, social, cultural, and political particularities.

The purpose of such a particular, context-sensitive approach is for teachers to make sense of their own working situations and thus to practise in a contextually-appropriate way. The reasoning behind such an aim is that teachers teach best and learners learn best in situations that are compatible with their backgrounds, beliefs, and expectations. I am suggesting in this article, as others have done elsewhere, that one way to achieve this understanding is to undertake narrative inquiry in the form of constructing, interpreting, and reflecting on one's personal teaching stories.

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