EDUCATIONAL THEORIES OF EDUCATIONAL CHANGE WITHIN HIGHER EDUCATION: Robustness in the Roman Ruins
Jack Whitehead, Department of Education, University of Bath.
A paper presented to the Symposium on 'Educational Change Within Higher Education' convened by Roger Murphy at the annual conference of the British Educational Research Association, Queens University, Belfast, 27-30 August 1998
"... the proper function of a university is the imaginative acquisition of knowledge..... A university is imaginative or it is nothing - at least nothing useful.... The whole art of the organisation of a university is the provision of a faculty whose learning is lighted up with imagination." (A.N. Whitehead, pp. 145-146, 1929).
There are many descriptions, explanations and theories of educational change within higher education. In this Symposium for example, Roger Murphy (1998) has focused on key skills, David Bridges (1998) on the construction and organisation of knowledge in the university curriculum, David Hustler (1998) on evaluation work and shifting guidance roles, Michelle Selinger (1998) on peer collaboration and tutorial support through electronic forums in higher education. My own contribution is to offer a living educational theory which is grounded in a self-study of my professional learning as a university teacher and researcher over the past 25 years at Bath. It is also grounded in my engagement with the theories of others. My educational theory has emerged from the educational enquiry, 'How do I improve what I am doing?' (McNiff, Lomax & Whitehead 1996). It includes my learning in my educative relationships with other educational researchers and my learning from their original contributions to educational knowledge.
In this paper I want to take as a given the educational change I am going to explain.
In doing this I want to distance myself from James Tooley's analysis of educational research where he says that if any reader wishes to object to such research, on the grounds that they don't like the particular implications for policy and practice, 'then they would have to go beyond the model of good practice in educational research, to a theory of good practice in education itself' (Tooley, 1998). One of the reasons for my focus on the nature of educational theory is that I cannot understand how an educational researcher can propose a model of good practice in 'educational' research without an understanding of the educational theory which constitutes the research as 'educational'.
The educational change I am taking as a given is represented in the living educational theory theses and dissertations which have been legitimated by a number of universities. In particular I want to draw your attention to 7 of these theses and dissertations on the Web at address http://www.bath.ac.uk/~edsajw
The Ph.D. Theses have all been judged as original contributions to educational knowledge. It is the legitimation of these original contributions to educational knowledge by the Academy which I am taking to be the given educational change I am seeking to explain in the creation and testing of my own living educational theory. What I mean by living educational theory is an explanation constructed by an individual in asking, answering and researching questions of the form, 'How do I improve what I am doing?, which explains a present practice in terms of an evaluation of past experience and an intention to create an improvement in practice which is not yet achieved.
I can explain the above educational change in terms of the four epistemological pressures on the higher education curriculum defined by David Bridges in terms of the de-construction of the subject, cross curricular 'key' skills, learning through experience and the reaffirmation of my subject, education, as the academic and organisational identity. As well as seeing them as competing epistemological pressures which I can use in an analysis I also see them as important ideas which be integrated within the creation of my living educational theories as I synthesis them in the construction of my own higher education curriculum.
In seeking to develop my living theory and higher education curriculum I am going to explore an extension of my explanation for my own learning (Whitehead 1993) from one which focused on the value of academic freedom to one which is focused on responses to institutional bullying. By institutional bullying I include both the feelings and experience of intimidation by those being bullied by the disciplinary power of the institution, and the 'reasonable person' test which holds that conduct is bullying if a reasonable person could see that this would be the effect. I link my focus on institutional bullying to the values of democracy and citizenship in the sense that the removal or reduction in bullying seems consistent with the values of both democracy and citizenship. I am using 'disciplinary power' in the sense used by Foucault in an interview with Fontana and Pasquino (1980) where it is linked to a 'regime of truth' :
"Each society has its regime of truth, its 'general politics' of truth; that is, the types of discourse which it accepts and makes function as true; the mechanisms and instances which enable one to distinguish truth and false statements, the means by which each is sanctioned; the techniques and procedures accorded value in the acquisition of truth; the status of those who are charged with saying what counts as true." (Foucault , p. 131, 1980)
I am hopeful that this growth in my educational knowledge resonates with some of your experiences of the abuse of power, which I take bullying to involve, and that you will see the importance of my responses for my own educational development. These responses and their integration in a narrative of my own professional learning may have some uses for you if you are working on ways of speaking your truth to power in a way which supports the power of truth.
In 1980 I presented a paper to BERA on 'The observation of a living contradiction' (Whitehead 1980). Because of the significance of 'I' as a living contradiction in my educational theories of educational change I will begin in the experience of contradiction in my engagement (D'Arcy 1998) with four texts. I selected the texts because I intuitively felt they would help me to communicate the significance of my responses to institutional bullying as a living contradiction in my educational theories of educational change.
The first is the Chapter on 'Universities and Their Function' from A.N. Whitehead's (no relation) Aims of Education. See the delight as I read:
"The combination of imagination and learning normally requires some leisure, freedom from restraint, freedom from harassing worry, some variety of experiences, and the stimulation of other minds diverse in opinion and diverse in equipment. Also there is required the excitement of curiosity, and the self-confidence derived from pride in the achievements of the surrounding society in procuring the advances of knowledge. Imagination cannot be acquired once and for all, and then kept indefinitely in an ice box to be produced periodically in stated quantities. The learned and imaginative life is a way of living, and is not an article of commerce.
It is in respect to the provision and utilisation of these conditions for an efficient faculty and the two functions of education and research to meet together in a university. Do you want your teachers to be imaginative? Then encourage them to research. Do you want your researchers to be imaginative? Then bring them into intellectual sympathy with the young at the most eager, imaginative period of life, when intellects are just entering upon their mature discipline. Make your researchers explain themselves to active minds, plastic and with the world before them; make your young students crown their period of intellectual acquisition by some contact with minds gifted with experience of intellectual adventure. Education is discipline for the adventure of life; research is intellectual adventure; and the universities should be homes of adventure shared in common by young and old. For successful education there must always be a certain freshness in the knowledge dealt with. It must either be new in itself or it must be invested with some novelty of application of the new world of new times. Knowledge does not keep any better than fish." (Whitehead, pp 146-147, 1929).
Whitehead also pointed out that "necessary technical excellence can only be acquired by a training which is apt to damage those energies of mind which should direct the technical skill. This is the key fact in education, and the reason for most of its difficulties" (p.144)
On reading Roger Murphy's (1998) paper on Moving Ahead With Key Skills in Higher Education, for this symposium I experienced a tension as I wondered how he had avoided the problem of damaging the values and imagination needed to direct the skills while helping individuals to 'benefit greatly' from the 'sustained development of key skills:
"Our own research work, and that of others (eg Cryer, 1998), on key skills within the higher education sector over the last few years has suggested that individual students can benefit greatly from a coherent experience in relation to the use and sustained development of key skills". (p.4)
My tension developed into the experience of contradiction as I read the following
quotation from Barry Lopez's (1986) 'Arctic Dream' which ended a draft Ph.D. submission from a self-study researcher from Alaska.
"I thought about the great desire among friends and colleagues and travellers who meet on the road, to share what they know, what they have seen and imagined. Not to have a shared understanding, but to share what one has come to understand. In such an atmosphere of mutual regard, in which each can roll out his or her maps with no fear of contradiction, of suspicion or theft, it is possible to imagine the long, graceful strides of human history." (p.270).
In extending my educational theory of educational change in higher education to embrace my responses to institutional bullying I want to work at resolving a contradiction I feel between holding a view of the 'long graceful strides of human history' at the same time as holding in mind painful images, of which the extreme are those from the holocaust. In other words I can create beautiful unities in my imagination, in smooth stories of the self (MacLure 1996), which omit some stressful experiences which threaten my sense of integrity and identity.
In embracing my experiences of institutional bullying and being open about my responses I hope to avoid the kind of criticisms made by MacLure of those who present their narratives of becoming action researchers as 'smooth stories of the self'.
In a second paper to this conference (Whitehead 1998) I have presented a 'victory narrative' on the creation and legitimation of living educational theories in the Academy. In this other paper I analysed the nature of my educative influence with Hilary Shobbrook and explained this influence in relation to Hilary's own voice as she analysed her educational development in 'Letters to her Teacher'. I focused on the nature of my living philosophy of education as it was expressed and communicated from within our educative relationship. In the paper (also available at the Web address below) I explained that seven living theory theses of mature students who had graduated between June 1996 and July 1998 could be accessed from the Web at address:
In my book, 'The Growth of Educational Knowledge: Creating your own living educational theories' (Whitehead 1993), I described and explained my own learning by analysing a series of my papers published between 1977 and 1993 to show the extension of my cognitive range and concern (Peters 1966). Interspersed between the papers I included factual evidence from my university context to show that the papers had been produced at the same time as I was learning how to respond to the experience of the truth of power in attempts in 1976 to terminate my employment at the University on the grounds that I had not given satisfaction in the teaching of prescribed courses, that there was an absence of evidence that I had pursued research of sufficient quality and that I had disturbed the good order and morale of the School of Education. In 1980 and 1982 I was learning how to respond to two failed Ph.D, submissions on the nature of educational theory and the university's instruction that under no circumstances could I question the competence of my examiners.
In 1987 I was learning how to respond to the written outcome of a disciplinary meeting with the University Solicitor, Director of Personnel, the Secretary and Registrar and an AUT Friend, which claimed that my activities and writings were a challenge to the present and proper organisation of the University and not consistent with my duties in teaching and research. These experiences were described in order to show the meaning of the value of academic freedom as it was embodied in my practice and as its meaning emerged through the practice. I did not see, at this time, the relevance for the growth of my educational theory of including an analysis of my response to institutional bullying. Nor did I see the importance of Moira Laidlaw's (1996) insight that the value of academic freedom was itself living and developing in the course of its emergence in practice.
The following quotations from my third text, the 1997 Guidelines from the Association of University Teachers on 'Combating Stress at Work', give some indication that others are experiencing health-threatening stress in the workplace, some of this which can be related to bullying:
"A survey by the Trades Union Congress in 1996 found that 80% of staff in the education sector, including staff in higher education, suffered from stress-related illnesses. The Association of University Teachers as identified a wide range of factors leading to this outcome in the university section These include....
Destructive innuendo eg. targeting individuals;
racial or sexual harassment;
staff being treated with contempt or indifference;
a perception of being undervalued;
fear of fall in quality of personal output; leading to criticism;
guilt for taking full holiday entitlement or fatigue for failing to take it:
'offers that cannot be refused, for example to someone on a short-term research contract to undertake teaching in addition to a full research programme;
job insecurity, especially for short-term and older staff......"
In responding to institutional bullying I am attracted to Lather's ideas of rethinking research as a 'ruin', as well as a 'victory narrative' and to Couture's playful images of the University as Dracula. These ideas are in the following extracts from the fourth text which is Maggie MacLure's (1996) Narratives of Becoming an Action Researcher, in her section on 'Interviews with the Vampires':
"Lather (1994) has noted that the narratives of educational research (and not just action research) are usually victory narratives. She wonders what it might mean to rethink research as a 'ruin', in which risk and uncertainty are the price to be paid for the possibility of breaking out of the cycle of certainty that never seems to deliver the hoped-for happy ending........ If we tell our lives, and expect them to be told by others, in ways which constantly try to overcome 'alterity' - that incalculable Otherness that deconstructionists argue is the forgotten 'origin' of the core self- can we be sure that we are not acting on behalf of those institutions whose business is the 'colonisation of the Other' (Spivak, 1988)?
Couture (1994) suggests, playfully but nonetheless seriously, that action research within the academy might be just such an enterprise. He imagines the university as Dracula, feeding off the virgin souls (selves) of teachers who offer themselves up in the name of reflective practice. Couture fears that action research works by consuming the ungovernable alterity of the 'client', producing a state of amnesia, and leaving in its place 'this dead, smelly thing called teacher identity' (p.130) - a simulacrum silences resistance and erases the memory of other, fractured and conflicting possibilities of identity. If he is right, what must we have forgotten in order to tell these smooth stories of the self?"
A story of my own learning which included such fractured and conflicting possibilities of identity would not be complete without my learning from a working party established in 1990 to report to the Senate on 'A matter of academic freedom'. This was established following a recommendation by the Board of Studies for Education after a debate on the contents of the letter sent to me following the disciplinary meeting in 1987 described above which claimed that my activities and writings were a challenge to the present and proper organisation of the university and not consistent with the duties the university wished me to pursue in teaching or research. The working party reported to Senate in 1991, with a conclusion which contained the statement:
"The Working party did not find that, in any of Mr. Whitehead's seven instances, his academic freedom had actually been breached. This was however, because of Mr. Whitehead's persistence in the face of pressure; a less determined individual might well have been discouraged and therefore constrained....... Mr Whitehead undoubtedly feels intimidated (my emphasis) by the possibility of disciplinary action, and the Working Party wished to see a safeguard built into the University's procedures, for all staff, which would reduce the risk of any breach of academic freedom.".
I know that I am not alone in feeling the disciplinary power of a university in relation to academic freedom. The experiences of Michael Cohen and Colwyn Williamson and their sustained commitment and courage in facing such disciplinary power by 'speaking truth to power', has been well documented (Cohen & Williamson, 1992; Davies, 1994).
In presenting my educational theory of educational change in higher education, I want to focus on the above claim that I felt intimidated and to consider Lather's notion of rethinking research as 'ruin'. I want to add to the educational theory of educational change I presented in my book on the Growth of Educational Knowledge: Creating your own living educational theories (Whitehead 1993) with the new insights I have gained over the five years since the publication of 'The Growth of Educational Knowledge' (Whitehead 1993) in relation to institutional bullying.
I particularly want to focus on the emotions in experiences related to bullying and to draw on Madeleine Mohammed's (1998) work on the use of cameos to mediate educational emotional awareness to share with you my feelings as I recount two past experiences.
See if you can see me as a 6 year old sitting astride a bigger 7 year old, with a grip of iron on his hair and smashing his head on the concrete. His cries brought our two mothers hurtling into the yard to tear us apart. I was beyond feeling that any chastisement or discipline mattered. I can still feel the satisfaction of knowing that the bullying would now cease. It did!
Before this act of uncontrolled violence I had felt fear. The fear and intimidation of encountering the bully next door. A bigger boy of 7 who would taunt me, throw stones and physically intimidate me. After a couple of weeks of this I came home from school and encountered the bully in the backyard. My rage overcame my fear. My attack bowled him over and in a frenzied rage I ended the bullying without any remorse that I might have damaged the bully.
I have chosen this image because it bears out a present concern of mine with learning how to be more effective in doing something about bullying relationships at work. I am thinking of abuses of power in which individuals experience the violation of their integrity and identity. The above image still carries for me the satisfaction of making a 'robust' response to the bully. However, I can also still feel the outrage and disgust that anyone should act in such a way as to cause me to feel fear, humiliation and intimidation and to evoke such a violent response.
The second experience is grounded in my response to the claim by the Senate Working Party on a Matter of Academic Freedom that I undoubtedly felt intimidated. The working party, constituted by Professors Burrows and Collins, Mr. Meakin and Dr. Allen raised critical points about persistence and intimidation:
This was however, because of Mr. Whitehead's persistence in the face of pressure; a less determined individual might well have been discouraged and therefore constrained....... Mr Whitehead undoubtedly feels intimidated by the possibility of disciplinary action, and the Working Party wished to see a safeguard built into the University's procedures, for all staff, which would reduce the risk of any breach of academic freedom.
It was the stimulus of writing this paper which brought me back to focus on the nature of my 'persistence' and the claim that I undoubtedly felt intimidated by the possibility of disciplinary action. I think other publications shows something of the nature of my 'persistence in the face of pressure' in support of my value of academic freedom (Whitehead 1993). My other paper to this conference (Whitehead 1998) is presented as a 'victory narrative' in the sense that the 'living theory' theses and dissertations have clearly been legitimated in the Academy as original contributions to educational knowledge. My 'persistence in the face of pressure' in working to create a space for such 'living theory' theses and dissertations can be explained in terms of my commitment to the education of my students in a way which encourages them to make their own original contributions to educational theory and knowledge, as well as my commitment to other values. I explain my commitment to education in the vocational sense that it is a professional practice which offers opportunities to explore what it means for me to live a good and productive life.
I now to want to focus on what I see as a misunderstanding in the conclusions made by my colleagues who reported to Senate their claim that I undoubtedly felt intimidated by the possibility of disciplinary action. By exploring this I want to extend and deepen my explanation (living theory) of educational change in higher education.
One episode which may have led the Working Party to think I felt intimidated was my response to the penultimate draft of the report which did not contain any statement about my persistence in the face of pressure. Those involved in the enquiry had been given the opportunity to comment on the draft. I can vividly recall the forceful way I expressed my views to the Working Party that if they did not recognise the unreasonable pressure I had been subjected to and make recommendations to protect colleagues, they would be guilty of failing colleagues who may be subjected to such pressures in the future.
Given my experience of being bullied at the age of 6 I know my feelings of being intimidated. I have experienced the disciplinary power of the University several times in my 25 years at Bath. The last time I felt intimidated was appearing before Senate to appeal against their decision to terminate my employment. Then I felt intimidated. Surprisingly, whatever the Working Party's construction of my feelings of being intimidated at the possibility of disciplinary action, my feelings were of rage and disgust with what I experienced as institutional bullying. These emotions were directed against the mobilisation of the disciplinary power of the university against me on grounds which a believe a reasonable person would recognise as bullying. I recognise that the 'reasonable person' test is flawed in the sense that such judgements always take place in the social contexts of power relations which can distort what counts as being reasonable and that such judgements are invariably influenced by the interests and values of those doing the judging. Becoming aware of such distortions has been part of the narrative of my educational development as I show an increased understanding that, how I am perceived is sometimes not as I intended!
I don't see myself as a bully but I had a recent experience at a seminar at Kingston University which surprised me. After talking about some ideas on action research I invited responses from the audience and after fifteen minutes I asked one participant who hadn't made any comments if she had any questions for me. She responded that she hadn't asked me any questions because I looked as if I might take her down a dark alley and 'kick the living shit out of me'. Now I am a rather large man with what may be experienced as a 'robust' manner of addressing my questioners. I could see that for this participant it wasn't that a different choice of words would have encouraged her to participate. It was the manner in which I said what I did. The intimidation was experienced in the way the participant perceived me. This was also brought home to me when I looked at a photograph David Hamilton had taken of Wilf Carr and myself in conversation at a BERA conference some years ago. I had enjoyed the talk but looking at my face on the photograph I could see the phrase 'if looks could kill', coming alive in front of my eyes! The photograph surprised me because of the aggression it showed on my face, and my face was directed towards Wilf! Such experiences have improved my understanding of how easily facial expression and body language can be misconstrued and communication impaired because of this. I say this in an attempt to influence those who believe that bullies can be understood simply in terms of their 'robust' manner and choice of words.
The growth in my living educational theory of educational change now includes a re-evaluation of my past as I to return to the experience of the complex emotional responses of embarrassment, shame, humiliation, intimidation, disgust, anger, uncontrolled rage and satisfaction in my first experience of being bullied and as I link my present responses to Amanda Sinclair's (1998) recent theorising on 'Doing Leadership Differently'.
I identify my satisfaction with ending the bullying with the concept of hegemonic masculinity identified by Sinclair:
The concept of hegemonic masculinity goes a long way towards explaining why men with power resist examining or questioning their own maleness. There are arguments both about perception and about power here. Firstly hegemonic masculinity may be so taken for granted and assumed that it is unobservable to men. This is the reason why it will often be women who are more able, and willing, to identify maleness or masculinity as a phenomenon for discussion. For men, its existence is so assumed that it is imperceptible and therefore beyond debate. p.57
In her analysis of how managerial subcultures are built around masculinities Sinclair includes a form of traditional authoritarianism which is advanced through bullying and fear. Living not far from the Roman ruins in Bath I carry a picture of the Legionnaires conquest of Britain as a particular form of 'robust' hegemonic masculinity!
A recent episode in which I experienced the exercise of health-threatening power, of a regime of truth, rather than of bullying, was in relation to a research student I was supervising. In the Department of Education we have a formally-constituted Research Committee where research students put forward a paper for a research seminar when they wish to transfer from an M.Phil. to a Ph.D. programme. It is the formal constitution of such committees which enable their judgement to carry the disciplinary power of the University in the sense defined above as part of a 'regime of truth'. In July 1997 the research committee did not accept that a mature student I was supervising was ready for transfer, even though I had written a strong recommendation in support of this student and have one of the best records of successful research supervision over the past three years.
Some months later the student received a note from the research committee to say that the committee had taken the unusual step of appointing a second supervisor. The student's research programme was explicitly within my own field of the creation and testing of living educational theories. The second supervisor had not, to my knowledge, made any contribution to this area of enquiry. This was the first time in my experience of the disciplinary power of the university to which I could not immediately make a creative response and resolve my tension and stress in my usual way of incorporating it into my own research programme. This was because of what I judged to be in my student's interest. The imposed supervisor was someone I respected as an educator and I felt sure that he would make a significant contribution to the students' enquiry. I did not believe that it was in my student's interest to complain to Senate and the Academic Assembly about the imposition of a second supervisor for work which was clearly within my own field of expertise.
I would be interested in outside experts applying the 'reasonable person' test to the evidence provided by my student on his fitness for transfer at his first transfer seminar and the response of the research committee to impose a second supervisor. This is my first speculation on the way that I am learning from this experience in the narrative of my learning.
In the past I would have been satisfied with an explanation of the above experience which focused on the omission or attempts to eliminate living theories by the proponents of the disciplines of education such as the philosophy, psychology, sociology, history, management, economics and politics. Some thirty years ago I enjoyed my own initiation into the disciplines approach to educational theory with Richard Peters and Paul Hirst (1970) and only rejected this approach in 1971 when I came to see that it could not produce a valid explanation for my own professional learning as I asked, answered and researched questions with my pupils, of the form, 'How can I help you to improve your learning?'. I still experience the tendency of colleagues, whose conceptual frameworks and methods of validation, are heavily influenced by a 'discipline of education', and who have yet to engage in the discipline of researching their own educative relationships, to colonise what counts as educational knowledge. I am meaning 'colonise' in the negative sense of imposition, of taking over, of suppressing something of value. Kevin Eames (1996) has written an excellent analysis of his experience of such pressures in the afterword to his Ph.D. Thesis.
Having benefited greatly from sociological theories of education (Whitty 1997) I was disturbed to read in a text aimed at the regeneration of its field:
"No sophisticated theory of education can ignore its contribution to economic development (Durkheim 1977; Bowles and Gintis 1976). Indeed, throughout the twentieth century the relationship between education and the economy has constantly assumed greater significance. This is not only due to the increasing importance attached to knowledge as a condition for wealth creation, but because of the economic theory of human capital developed in the 1960s (Schultz 1961; Becker 1964). The attraction of human-capital theory is that investments in education and training are viewed as profitable for both the individual and for society (Marginson 1993)." (Halsey, Lauder, Brown, Stuart Wells, p. 156, 1997).
I am disturbed by this view because I can imagine a sophisticated theory of education involving, for example, an analysis of one's spiritual growth (Cunningham, 1998) which does ignore its contribution to economic development. In saying this I want to stress the importance for myself of understand the importance of economic forces and theorising in my own theory of education. It means that I am open to the possibility that sophisticated theories of education can exist without considering their contribution to economic development. It is difficult to understand how those operating with a view that 'no sophisticated theory of education can ignore its contribution to economic development', can make judgements on claims to educational knowledge which show that such theories of education can exist, without their view exerting a 'colonising' influence over what counts as educational theory. Just because it is difficult to understand, does not of course mean that they reject the existence of other kinds of sophisticated educational theories. If they do accept this then their claim above about the nature of sophisticated theories of education needs amending
As I write, I am conscious of a continuous tension which I associate with a lack of academic integrity in the creation and testing of living educational theories in the University environment in which I personally work; namely the University of Bath. As I reflect on the supportive colleagues and the values which have helped me to sustain my enquiry, I can see that their care and attention has protected me against some health threatening stress and pressures and this helps to explain my persistence. The lack of academic integrity I refer to is related to a change in the University regulations of 1991 which for the first time permitted questions to be raised about examiners of research degrees on the grounds of bias, prejudice or inadequate assessment. Following the recommendations of the examiners of my unsuccessful submissions of two Ph.D. Theses to the University in 1980 and 1982 I was not permitted to resubmit my theses. I had also received a written instruction that under no circumstances could I question the competence of my examiners once they had been appointed by Senate.
The change in the regulations in 1991 did not act retrospectively so I am still forbidden from resubmitting my theses. I am also forbidden from questioning the competence of my examiners. Here is the tension I live with. I believe that there is now sufficient evidence to convince a 'reasonable' person that the university has legitimated 'living theory' theses and dissertations which draw explicitly on ideas I submitted in my two rejected theses of 1980 and 1982. The tension I live with is the feeling of a lack of academic integrity within the University in forbidding the originator of the idea of living educational theories and the originator of some of their fundamental principles, to resubmit a thesis which has significantly influenced the other living theory theses and dissertations legitimated by the University. It isn't that I am forbidden to submit a new thesis. In procedural terms this is not a problem. The problem for me, is one of principle in relation to being forbidden to re-submit a thesis from which original ideas have been acknowledged and used by others.
Again, I think of this as a form of institutional bullying in which the exercise of the disciplinary power of the university is preventing what I believe a 'reasonable person' would see as an injustice. Namely, that I am forbidden from resubmitting either of the two theses which have contributed in fundamental ways to the creation and testing of the living educational theory theses which have been legitimated by the university and are freely accessible on the Web. I attach a flier from the Quebec Learning Consortium and School of Education at Bishop's University to show how my work on the creation and testing of living educational theories is perceived elsewhere (Appendix).
By bringing into my own living educational theories the concept and experience of institutional bullying I want to embrace the response of speaking my truth to power. I am thinking of the disciplinary power and regime of truth of the University. When I explain my persistence in the face of this disciplinary power and pressure I know that I should be acknowledging the power of my feelings of rage and disgust and their role in sustaining my persistence. These are in marked contrast to the positive feelings in my 'victory narrative' paper where I emphasise the importance to my life as an academic to make original and substantial contributions to knowledge of my subject, education. Let me illustrate the importance of images of violence and disgust in sustaining my persistence.
Walking with my trolley in Sainsbury's the other week I saw a colleague pushing his trolley towards me. My immediate response was an image of gripping him by the throat and holding him against the shelves. I recognised the violence in the image as a throwback to my response to bullying at the age of 6. What I actually did was to acknowledged him with a weak smile! The warmth of my normal welcome with academics I like, was tempered by the feeling of disgust because he had instructed a colleague who was recovering from a medical condition to have two papers accepted for publication within a six month period in refereed journals. I had been unable to get the requirement changed. My feelings that the instruction was unreasonable were born out both by a paper I had submitted with others for the journal Educational Action Research (Hughes, Denley & Whitehead, 1998) and a paper submitted by Prof. Morwenna Griffiths (1998) to the British Journal of Educational Research. By chance, the joint paper had been submitted the week my colleague had received his instruction. I received confirmation of acceptance following modifications some thirteen months after submission. A similar time was involved in the paper by Mo. Griffiths. I also contrasted this behaviour with those qualities referred to by Whitehead (1929) in his descriptions of the values of a University.
Like the image of my response to being bullied at the age of six, I visualised such a response to the colleague who had mobilised the disciplinary power of the university to make what I still perceive as the unreasonable demand of having two papers accepted for publication in refereed journals within a six month period. I carry the feeling of disgust towards the colleague because of his actions. I say these things to show the kinds of emotion which have been involved in my persistence in the face of pressure. I think these emotions are part of the reason why some of my responses to my experiences may be seen by my colleagues and others as excessive or extreme. I am aware that when I experience the disciplinary power of the university being mobilised as a form of institutional bullying I do not tend to approach those doing the mobilising with a faith in rational dialogue, unless I have sufficient numbers of colleagues in positions of sufficient power and responsibility to ensure that the force of better argument is the dominant force.
The way I have persisted in the face of such pressure and prevented the stress from impeding my work through wrecking my health, has been to incorporate the experiences and reflections within my research, as part of my descriptions and explanations of my professional learning as I seek to reconstitute what counts as educational theory within the academy. This is what I am doing now. I am exercising my imagination in contributing to knowledge of my subject. I am using the forum provided by BERA to speak my truth to the disciplinary power of my university. I also believe that I am extending and deepening my understanding of the nature of my living educational theory by explicitly embracing, for the first time, an understanding of my responses to what I experience as institutional bullying.
In explaining the particular educational change in higher education in terms of the legitimation of living educational theories I have sought to do more than acknowledge and explain my own persistence in the face of the pressure of institutional bullying. I have sought to include within my explanation some understanding of the ways in which I have responded to the experience of such bullying. I am thinking of my work as a university academic, who is concerned with the creation and testing of new forms of educational theory. I am also thinking of myself as a citizen who is concerned to enhance the quality of justice, freedom and rationality within his workplace by working towards the reduction of institutional bullying and towards the celebration of the values I associate with Academic Assembly.
I want to stress that the working party on a Matter of Academic Freedom got it wrong. I was not feeling intimidated by the possibility of disciplinary action. I felt enraged and disgusted that institutional bullying could be permitted to exist and that this had the effect of evoking such negative and violent feelings which I associate with my rage of smashing the bully against the concrete. These feelings contrast sharply with my embrace of the values of the Academic Assembly of the University (Whitehead, p.94, 1993) and Whitehead's (1929) image of the Function of a University.
And when I ask, answer and research my question, 'How do I improve what I am doing?', I hope that this response of speaking my truth to power, strikes a cord with those who live in a 'robust ' way near the Roman ruins of Bath, and beyond, in hearing and understanding that the way we protect the values of academic assembly, such as freedom, truth, democracy, rational debate and integrity may sometimes need a more imaginative response than simply changing the words we use.
In the creation and testing of my own living educational theories, I have emphasised the importance of evaluating and reevaluating the past in understanding the present and of the importance of understanding the present in terms of an imagined future which is directed at living values more fully. In my explanations of my own learning I integrate theoretical insights from the work of others. However, what I want to stress in this paper is my learning in responding to the experience of institutional bullying in myself and others. This, for me, carries a responsibility to protect the integrity and identity of oneself and others. In researching the process of responding to this value of responsibility I do agree with Couture (MacLure 1996) that it is important not to silence resistances and to acknowledge the experience of fractured and conflicting possibilities of identity. In this spirit I want to contrast my success in stopping bullying at the age of 6, and my success in my 'victory narrative' (Appendix) with my sickening failure in helping to protect the colleague who wrote:
"I started having Migraine headaches for the first time last year and have had about six since then. These have been interspersed with "tension" headaches, often occurring every day for one or two weeks at a time. These have, in themselves, caused me worry and more stress and prevented me from working properly ( the migraines haven't made me take many days off as they normally occur at the weekend - meaning that I don't get the rest I need). During particularly stressful periods, I have also suffered from chest and stomach pains and lack of sleep. I am convinced that all of this is directly related to my position at work. The deterioration to my health (the headaches are very detrimental to my quality of life) has been a major factor in deciding to leave."
Such experiences have made me more determined to support those who encounter institutional bullying with its potentially devastating effect on the individual targeted in an environment that A.N. Whitehead acclaimed. Perhaps the imagination of which he spoke could be directed at learning how to transform environments in which institutional bullying is experienced into a university context which can celebrate its existence in the creative spirit through which he wrote so eloquently. In sustaining such commitments I have been supported by my colleague Steve Wharton (1995) whose dedication in his Ph.D. Thesis continues to inspire me:
This thesis is dedicated to my parents Dennis and Marina Wharton who have taught me throughout my life that goodness, love, understanding and the determination to defend them, are qualities to be prized.
In conclusion I want to add a fifth pressure on the higher education curriculum to the four identified by David Bridges (1998). I am thinking of the pressure to legitimate the creation of living educational theories in the curriculum of higher education, as individuals describe and explain their own learning in educational enquiries of the kind, 'How do I improve what I am doing?'. In saying that I want to add a fifth pressure I do not want to emphasise a form of analysis which only breaks educational change into separate categories. I want to add a form of educational enquiry in which the art of the dialectician is experienced in holding together both our capacities for analysis with our capacities for synthesis. I want to propose a new discipline of educational enquiry (Lomax, 1998; Lomax and Whitehead 1998) for educational change in higher education in which individuals create their own living educational theories as forms of improvisatory self-realisation (Winter 1997) in the process of experiencing and learning from the curriculum as presented in higher education.
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