EXPLAINING EDUCATIONAL INFLUENCES IN LEARNING FROM AN EDUCATIONAL PERSPECTIVE
Jack Whitehead's notes for the Monday evening conversation of the 9nd October 2006
What I want to do in these notes is to share my present thinking about the significance of including life-affirming energy, values, logics and experiencing within explanations of educational influences in learning. I am thinking of explanations of educational influence in one's own learning, in the learning of others and in the learning of social formations. I also want to demonstrate how such energy, values, logics and experiencing can be represented in multi-media narratives of such explanations in my post-doctoral enquiries in a way that might be helpful in your own enquiries.
In my experience of supporting doctoral research programmes and preparing theses for submission I think everyone I have worked with has understood the importance of clarity in communication in a thesis. I am thinking particularly of clarity for a reader, in communicating the nature of the originality of mind and critical judgment and the extent and merit of the work. I am thinking about how to represent embodied values in living standards of judgement and how to communicate the logics of inclusionality.
I have found that the ideas I bring into educational conversations in supervision sessions have changed with the growth in cognitive range and concern in my educational knowledge and living educational theories. What I want to do below is to share these understandings and what I am seeing as their potential influence for your theses. I shall also bring into this work, ideas from the work of Fyodor Vasilyuk because I think that his ideas on energy, values, motives and experiencing from his psychology of experiencing could be useful to you in constructing your own explanations in your own enquiry.
The major extension and transformation over the last four years has been in my understandings of Alan Rayner's expressions of inclusionality and how this has contributed to my own professional values. I shall begin with a video-clip that, for me, shows inclusionality in action. I could begin by saying that for me inclusionality is a relationally dynamic awareness of space and boundaries that is connective, reflexive and co-creative. However, starting with these words might give the impression that my meanings could be contained solely in the relationship between these words. I want to stress that the meaning is in a relationship between living experience and the expression of living meanings with words.
I know that the communication of my meanings is likely to be problematic because I am saying that my words on their own do not carry my meanings. In much academic writing and conversation it is assumed that words on their own can carry the intended meanings. My meanings require ostensive definition, as well as lexical definition, in the sense that I will be pointing to visual data from practice to communicate the meanings flowing through the words.
Here is a video-clip together with my comments to communicate my meaning of inclusionality as a relationally dynamic flow of space and boundaries that is connective, reflexive and co-creative:
The video-clip and the still photograph of Christine Jones and Marie Huxtable, taken from a moment in their presentation at 2006 conference of the British Educational Research Association. I think you will get a better experience of what I am meaning by this if you speed up the movement on the video-clip by moving the cursor backwards and forwards at the bottom of the clip. As the video shows the movement of participants in the session, and their participation through their own receptively responsive contributions, this is what I am meaning by inclusionality. This meaning is being expressed through the living relationships in the space shown on the video-clip. In seeking to communicate my understanding of inclusionality I am connecting the meanings of my words to the expression of the meanings I experienced as I video-taped the session and as I experience in viewing the video-clip.
Having starting with a visual record of educational practices of inclusionality I now want to make explicit some assumptions I am aware of in my understandings of life-affirming energy, values, logics and experiencing in explanations of educational influences in learning. With each meaning I shall begin with experience and some visual-data in which the meaning is being expressed. My intention is to communicate my meanings through a relationship between the experience, and the words I use to communicate the meanings in the experience.
My experience is confirmed in the response of another viewer who commented:
"..the charisma that is in the blonde woman is coming from the collective, and she is exceptional because she is able to 'open up' and allow the field flow to come in through her and loop back through us, the audience."
So, as I move the cursor backwards and forwards along the video-clip I experience the 'field flow' of energy through its embodied expression shown on the clip and affirm my experience of this flow of energy as life-affirming. In communicating my meaning of life-affirming energy I want to emphasise the importance of beginning with the experience of this flow of energy. Your responses to the video-clip and to the association of my responses to what I am seeing, to the expression of a life-affirming energy, will help me to understand if I have communicated my meanings.
A second example is video-data that shows a flow of life-affirming energy being expressed by Eden Charles through his eulogy at his Grandmother's funeral in a church in Peckham, London. Eden is working on a doctoral enquiry that is informed by an African Cosmology and Ubuntu way of being. He is describing the vital life force in his Grandmother's dancing.
As a viewer of this video-clip my question is whether you too experience the expression of life-affirming energy and if you do I am interested in what you think are the triggers that evoke this recognition?
My third example is from own practice in a workshop in South Africa where I am expressing my own affirming energy through my valuing of Ubuntu and advocating the integration of insights from Ubuntu in explanations of learning. You may find these ideas stimulating as you work on producing accounts of your own form of life and meaning.
Writing in the 1980s the Russian psychologist Fyodor Vasilyuk points out that the generation of energy deserves to be seen as having great theoretical significance yet it scarcely figures at all in descriptions of experiencing processes. I believe such omissions severely limit the explanatory power of such theoretical perspectives. He believes that conceptions involving energy have been very poorly worked out from a methodological standpoint.
"Equally problematic are the conceptual links between energy and motivation, energy and meaning, energy and value, although it is obvious that in fact there are certain links: we know how 'energetically' a person can act when positively motivated, we know that the meaningfuness of a project lends additional strength to the people engaged in it, but we have very little idea of how to link up into one whole the physiological theory of activation, the psychology of motivation, and the ideas of energy which have been elaborated mainly in the field of physics. (p. 64)
Here is how I think we can establish relationships between energy and value of the kind that Vasilyuk finds problematic. It is the offering of an explanation that communicates your energy, values, logics and experiencing that could distinguish what counts as educational in your influences in learning.
The examples used so far all involve contexts in which a flow of life-affirming energy and the expression of the values are both affirmed. However, such energy also can find expression to contexts of conflict in relation to values of respect, openness, justice, freedom and inclusionality. Here is an example of a context in which values are experienced as being denied and of a response that can express an affirming of values with a flow of life-affirming energy.
This still image is taken from the video-clip below the image. The video shows me expressing my embodied values of academic freedom, justice and responsibility in a re-enactment of a meeting in 1991 with a Senate Working Party on a Matter of Academic Freedom. The Working Party was established to consider evidence concerning possible breaches in my Academic Freedom. The draft working party concluded that my academic freedom had not been breached.
The Working Party analysed issues surrounding a letter I had received from the Secretary and Registrar claiming 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. Following my response to this draft, at a meeting of the Working Party, the report for Senate was amended to acknowledge that while my academic freedom had not been breached this was because of my persistence in the face of pressure while a less determined individual might well have been discouraged and therefore constrained. The video-clip shows my re-enactment of my response to the working party. It comes at the end of my meeting with the Working Party, when feeling utterly defeated and dejected at the lack of recognition in the report on the pressure I had been subjected to, in relation to my Academic Freedom, I moved to leave the room. Then, as I was leaving I felt a surge of life-affirming energy, not uncontrolled rage, certainly anger at injustice, but disciplined and controlled. Here is the video-clip of my re-enactment that focuses at the end of the clip on the value of the responsibility of scholars to protect academic freedom. I stress that while this is a re-enactment, the video-clip continues to resonate with the emotions and responses I remember vividly from the experience.
As I watch the video-clip I am reliving the expression of my life-affirming energy and values of academic freedom, justice and responsibility. The meanings of these embodied values are being clarified in the course of their expression in action. I believe that as you experience and see the expression of the meanings of my embodied values, you will agree that the values possess emotionality. I believe that you may need to interrogate your personal experiences of engagement with power relations and contexts that threaten your values and understandings, as you are reading my text and viewing the video-clip, to connect with the emotion and values I am referring to.
In claiming that the values I am expressing through this video-data can be understood as acknowledged motives, and as both meaning-formative and operative motives in action, I am following Vasilyuk's insights into the nature of values:
So values do not, on the one hand possess stimulating power, and therefore cannot be held to be motives, but on the other hand, they have to be recognised as motives since they do possess emotionality. The explanation is that the activity theory distinguishes different kinds of motives. It is possible to suppose that in the course of personality development values undergo a definite evolution, changing not only in content but in motivational status as well, in the place they occupy and the role they play in the structure of life-activity. In the earliest stages values exist only in the form of the emotional consequences when behaviour has offended against them, or conversely, has asserted them (first stirrings of guilt or of pride). The values take on the form of 'acknowledged' motives, then that of meaning-formative motives, and finally that of motives both meaning-formative and operative in reality. At each stage the value is enriched with a new motivational quality, without losing those previously present. (p.119)
I now want to explore the significance of logic in explanations of educational influence in learning.
The main reason I focus on the significance of logic is because of my understanding, drawn from Marcuse's insights, that a logic is a mode of thought that reason takes in comprehending the real as rational (Marcuse, 1964, p. 105).
As I am speaking in the above clip, I am using three logics in the sense of three modes of thought. I am using propositional, dialectical and inclusional logics.
The propositional logic of 'if this-then' that reasoning, can be appreciated in the statement:
If you permit that report to go to Senate in that form you are denying the fundamental responsibilities of being an Academic.
The nucleus of living contradiction in dialectical logic can be experienced in my pausing at the door feeling totally defeated and then in the surge of the values-energized response that includes my propositional if-then logic.
If you allow that report to be made public you are denying some of the fundamental values of what it means to be a scholar and academic. If you don't recognize the pressure to which I've been subjected to in this institution since I came here in relation to my research you are opening the doors to other abuses in relation to this institution.
The relationally-dynamic awareness and 'responsiveness to context' of inclusional logic can be appreciated through the contextual understanding that my mode of thought is influenced by the dynamic context of a draft report from the Senate Working Party on Academic Freedom. The relational dynamic of the movement of my thought is in response to violations I am experiencing in a lack of recognition of constraining pressures. It is in response to my passionate commitment to the living expression of values of academic freedom, justice and responsibility.
When I present below an explanation for my educational influence in learning I shall be using my embodied values and their clarification in the course of their emergence in what I am doing, as living standards of judgment. I shall also explain my use of three epistemologies that are directly connected to the three logics above, each with its distinguishable units of appraisal and standards of judgment.
When I present my explanations of educational influence the first epistemology is grounded in the propositional logic of Aristotle. The Law of Contradiction claims that two mutually exclusive statements cannot both be true simultaneously. The Law of Excluded Middle claims that everything is either A or Not-A. The Law of Bivalence claims that for any proposition P, P is either true or false. This logic characterises the propositional theories that dominate what counts as legitimate knowledge in the Academy. All my academic life however, I have acknowledged in my publications the use I have made of insights that I value from the grand narratives of propositional theory. I continue to draw valued insights from such propositional theories.
The second epistemology is grounded in dialectical logic as set out by Ilyenkov (1977). Contradiction is the nucleus of dialectics and change is explained in terms of the Law of the Unity and Conflict of Opposites, the Law of the Negation of the Negation and the Law of the Passage of Quantitative Change into Qualitative Change. In asking, researching and answering questions of the kind, 'How do I improve my practice?' I could see and feel myself, with the help of video-tapes of my practice, existing as a living contradiction as I held together my values together with their negation in my practice. I have explicated my dialectical epistemology in a creation of a discipline of educational enquiry in my doctoral thesis (Whitehead, 1999). Eames' (1995) thesis includes conversations in which he is showing the growth of his understanding of dialectics within our conversations in which I am focusing on Ilyenkov's meanings of dialectical logic.
The third epistemology is grounded in the living logics of inclusionality (Rayner 2006). I understand inclusionality as a relationally dynamic awareness of space and boundaries that is connective, reflexive and co-creative. Naidoo (2005) has developed the inclusional and responsive standard of judgment of passion for compassion in the development of her emergent living theory of inclusional and responsive practice. It was in my listening and watching of Alan Rayner's demonstration of the meaning of inclusionality that I felt a transformation in my mode of thought. I comprehended Rayner's meanings of a relationally dynamic awareness of space and boundaries.
I believe that the clarity, I emphasized at the beginning of these notes, is showing itself here in my own awareness of the three epistemologies. I think you will need to demonstrate a similar clarity in the expression of your own epistemologies in your thesis.
Here is a video-clip of Rayner's demonstration:
In the explanation of educational influence below, I shall explore the possibility that inclusionality can be understood with the help of multi-media explanations of educational influences in learning. I believe that the visual narratives are needed to show the living logics of inclusionality in educational relationships that are formed in interconnecting and branching channels and boundaries of communication in space.
There is a history of some 2,500 years of debate between formal logicians and dialecticians about the validity of their logics. Formal logicians reject dialectical logic on the grounds that it is based on nothing better than a loose and woolly way of speaking and entirely useless in theory. Popper (1963, p.317) has given a very clear demonstration of how the laws of propositional logic exclude dialectical logic as a valid form of reasoning. However, dialecticians such as Marcuse (1964) claim that propositional theories mask the dialectical nature of reality and offer persuasive arguments to show the limitations of propositional theories for comprehending the nature of reality. In the explanation below, of my educational influences in learning, I use both logics within the flow of my logic of inclusionality. I shall show how I use insights provided by theories that are formed with each of these epistemologies, in explanations of my educational influence in my own learning, in the learning of others and in the learning of social formations. I do want to stress however, that my understandings of these logics evolved through time and reflection and that this evolution is part of the growth of my educational knowledge and a part of my explanation of my educational influence in my own learning.
Having explained how I am using the words, life-affirming energy, values and logics I now want to focus on meanings of experience and the idea of experiencing. Without experience we would not be aware of what we are doing or why we are doing it. As with the flow of life-affirming energy I do not know the answer to the question, 'Where does experiencing come from?' I know that I feel a flow of life-affirming energy and that I experience this flow. Insights from the following meanings of experiencing, from the work of Vasilyuk, especially creative experiencing, are integrated below in my explanations of educational influence in learning. I imagine that you have had life changing experiences of crises and I am wondering if Vasilyuk's idea of creative experiencing might be helpful in your explanations of your learning.
In using insights from Vasilyuk's ideas of experiencing I want to be clear that I am using these insights in the development of a distinctly educational perspective and form of educational theorising. Vasilyuk's psychology of experiencing, draws on activity theory, and is comprehensible as a contribution to the conceptual frameworks and methods of validation of psychology. In using Vasilyuk's ideas I want to acknowledge their source while being clear that I am using them in generating educational theories, rather than to develop or evaluate a psychological theory of experiencing. It may be, as in the case of my earlier use of Piaget's cognition stage theory that, in the growth of my educational knowledge, I need to search for more appropriate psychological and others forms of theory.
There comes now a long section on Vasilyuk's ideas. I hope that you experience the power of Vasilyuk's ideas to influence your understandings as they have mine in my educational development.
Vasilyuk proposed his idea of experiencing to overcome what he saw as a lack in activity theory. This lack was that activity theory could not provide an appropriate category for the creation of meaning, for generating meaning or constructing it. He acknowledged that a person can realise very deeply and exactly what has taken place in his life, what that event means for him, i.e., become conscious of what a psychologist calls the 'personal meaning' of the event, which the person actually, in the given situation, may well feel to be loss of meaning, nonsense. The real problem facing him, its crisis point, lies not in recognising the meaning of the situation, nor in elucidating a hidden but existent meaning, but in creating a meaning, in generating meaning or constructing it. (pp. 26-27)
In advancing the claim of experiencing to overcome this lack of an appropriate category in activity theory to explain meaning creation, Vasilyuk is most careful to distinguish the formation of meaning from generating meaning. Writing in the 1980s he says that meaning formation in its current usage in activity-theory usage, is frequently employed to refer to the process whereby any personal meaning comes into being (and not to the formation of meaningfulness), i.e., without reference to special meaning-forming motives. But even this is not the main point: formation of meaning is here considered as a function of motive, but when we speak of 'generating meaning' what we have in mind is a special activity on the part of the individual. (Vasilyuk, 1991, p.27)
For Vasilyuk the specifics of this activity are determined by the peculiarities of the situations which put the individual under the necessity of experiencing. He refers to these as critical situations and defines them as situations of impossibility. Impossibility of what, he asks. His answer is, the impossibility of living, of realising the internal necessities of life.
He defines the struggle against that impossibility, the struggle to realise internal necessities as experiencing. For Vasilyuk experiencing is the repair of a 'disruption' of life, a work of restoration and his theory of experiencing studies the way in which an individual falls and rises again to continue the journey.
I understand that Vasilyuk generates his psychology of experiencing from the ground of critical situations of impossibility. In my educational perspective I am aware of experiencing that includes a flow of life affirming energy and feel no need to generate my concept of experiencing from critical situations of impossibility. What I like and use from Vasilyuk's ideas are the distinctions he draws between hedonistic, realistic, valuing and creative experiencing. I shall draw on these in the explanation of my educational influence in learning.
In hedonistic experiencing the individual ignores reality. He or she distorts and denies it in creating an illusion of a need being actually satisfied. In hedonistic experiencing there is a tendency for the damaged content of life remaining intact.
In realistic experiencing the individual eventually accepts reality as it is. The dynamics and the content of the individual's needs accommodate themselves to real conditions. Drawing on his idea of the impossible situation, Vasilyuk says that the former life content, now impossible, is cast aside by realistic experiencing. The individual has a past but has no history.
In value experiencing the individual recognises the reality which contradicts or threatens their values. However, unlike in realistic experiencing they do not accept it. They reject the claims of immediate reality to define directly and unconditionally the inner content of life. For Vasilyuk, value experiencing transforms reality, ideally.
Creative experiencing generates (creates) a new life reality. Vasilyuk says that it is this sensory-practical, bodily aspect which distinguishes creative from value experiencing; creative experiencing is distinguished from realistic experiencing by its value aspect.
Vasilyuk works with the idea of crisis. He sees a crisis as a turning point in the individual's life road. The life road itself, so far as it is completed and seen in retrospect, is, for Vasilyuk the history of the individual's life, and so far as it is as yet uncompleted and seen in phenomenological prospect, it is the intent of life. He sees value providing inner unity and conceptual integrity. I like the way he understands a vocation. He says that intent as related to value is perceived, or rather felt, as vocation, and as related to the temporal and spatial conditions of existence, as the life-work. For Vasilyuk our work of life is translated into material terms as our actual projects, plans, tasks, goals and achievement through which we give embodiment to our life's intent. When certain events make the realisation of the life intent subjectively impossible, he believes that a crisis situation occurs. (pp. 138-9)
I also like Vasilyuk's insights into the responses we can make to experiencing a crisis. He distinguishes three sub-types of creative experiencing as responses to two forms of outcome to experiencing a crisis. The first form is the restoration of the life disrupted by the crisis, its rebirth. The second is its transformation into a life essentially different. But in either case, says Vasilyuk it is something that brings one's life to birth afresh, of building up a self, constructing a new self, i.e., creation. Because of the communicative power of Vasilyuk's prose I have chosen to let the following quotation stand in relation to the three sub-types of creative experiencing and the strategy of creative experiencing:
In the first sub-type of creative experiencing, then, the result is restoration of life, but this does not mean life returning to its previous state. It means that what is preserved is only the most essential part of the life that was, its idea in terms of value, like a regiment shattered in battle living on in the stand saved from the field.
The experiencing of events, even of those which have struck very heavy and irreversible blows at the whole 'body' of life, so long as they have not injured life's central, ideal values can develop along one of the two following lines. The first involves the internal conquest of existing psychology identifications between the life intent and the particular forms of realising it which have now become impossible. In this process the life intent becomes as it were 'less bodily', takes on a more generalised and at the same time more essential form, more closely approach an ideal life value.
The second line of progress in experiencing, in some ways opposite to the foregoing, lies in seeking out, among the life possibilities still open, other potential embodiments of the life intent; the search is to some degree made easier by the life intent itself becoming more generalised. If the search produces forms for realisation of intent which receive positive sanction from the still-operative idea of value, a new life intent is formed. Thereafter there is a gradual coming-together of the intent with appropriate sensory-practical forms, or it might be better to say that the intent 'takes root' and starts to grow in the material soil of life.
All such experiencing, where the thrust is towards producing a new life intent, still does not destroy the old life intent (now impossible). Here the new does not oust the old but continues its work; the old content of life is preserved by the power of creative experiencing, and not as a dead, inert something past but as the living history of the personality, still continuing in the new content.
The second sub-type of creative experiencing occurs when the life intent proves to have been founded on false values, and is discredited along with those values, by what their actual realisation has produced. Here the task of creative experiencing is, first, to discover a new value system, able to provide a foundation for a new, meaningful life intent ( in this part of it, creative experiencing coincides with value experiencing); second, to absorb the new system and apply it to the individual self in such a way that it can impart meaning to the past life-history and form an ideal notion of the self within the system; and third, to eradicate, in real practice in the sphere of the senses, all traces of the spiritual organism's infection by the now fading false values (and their corresponding motives, attitudes, wishes, etc.), at the same time affirming, again in terms of real practice and sensory embodiment, the ideal to which the self has won through.
The third sub-type of creative experiencing is connected with the highest stages of personality development in terms of value. A life crisis is precipitated by the destruction, or threatened destruction, of the value entity to which the individual seems himself as belonging. The person sees this whole under attack and being destroyed by the forces of a hostile reality. Since we are here speaking of a person who is a fully competent inhabitant of the complex-and-difficult lived world, it is clear that he does not simply see this destruction but cannot fail to see it, being incapable of hedonistically ignoring reality. But on the other hand, it is equally impossible for such a person to relinquish the value entity in question, to betray it, to abandon one's convictions. A rational assessment of the situation would admit it to be fundamentally insoluble.
So what is the 'strategy' of creative experiencing? Like value experiencing, it first of all brings up the question of whether reality is to be trusted Ð should reason be allowed to stand as the source of the sole, genuine truth about reality, should the given factual reality of the moment be accepted as the fully valid expression of reality as a whole? For value experiencing it was a sufficient accomplishment of its task Ð to enable the individual to stand by his value system Ð to disallow the claims of reason and to recognise in ideal terms that value reality was the higher reality. From creative experiencing something more is required, for its task is to enable the individual to act on the basis of his value system, to actualise and affirm it, to act upon it under conditions which practically, materially operate against it.
Such action is psychologically possible only when a special inner state has been attained. We refer to the state of readiness to sacrifice any motive, of which we spoke already when discussing value experiencing. But whereas under the conditions of the 'easy' lived world such a mobilisation of inner resources was achieved by increased introversion, here, in the situation where there is direct collision with external difficulties and dangers, we find a movement taking the reverse direction in a certain sense, a movement not into the self but away from the self, a person concentrating all his spiritual and physical forces not upon achievement of personal happiness, welfare of security, but upon service to a higher value. The highest point of this movement is a state of unconditional readiness for self-sacrifice, or rather a state of utter self-denial, completely freed from all egoistic fixation. This state breaks through the 'impossibility' situation from within, for such a state give meaning to 'irrational actions', which are in fact the only actions that can have meaning in such a situation; selfless action becomes a psychological possibility. (pp. 140-142)
Having focused attention on my meanings of life-affirming energy, values, logics and creative experiencing I shall now use these meanings in the explanations I offer for my educational influences in learning. The explanations follow the description of what I think I do in my educational relationships
What do I do in my educational relationships?
There are expressions of energy, value, faith, creative experiencing and sharing understandings that characterize for me, what I do in my educational relationships. I think you can see these expressions in the two video clips from supervision sessions with Jacqueline Delong.
First there is the expression of pleasure in being with the other in a flow of life-affirming energy. This is often expressed, at some point, in a spontaneous eruption of laughter in the humour of a shared experience.
I think you will experience this flow of energy as you watch the clip at:
Second, there is the expression of recognition of the value of the embodied knowledge of the other. I am expressing this recognition through the video-clip.
Third, there is my faith/belief that making this knowledge public in the form of their living educational theory is part of living a purposeful and productive life. This faith/belief is expressed in my passion for contributing to an educational relationship through which the other's embodied knowledge is made public in a way that can be used in the generation of their own living educational theories. All my supervisions are moved by the desire to bring into the public domain the living theories of practitioners that can receive university accreditation for the quality of their contribution to educational knowledge.
Fourth, there is a commitment to enquiry in making public the living standards of judgment and understandings used by the other in living a productive life. This belief in the desirability of living a productive life includes a faith in the creative and critical capacities of the other to generate and share their living educational theory.
Fifth, this commitment to enquiry in creative experiencing includes sharing my own understandings of the ideas of others as I see connections between these ideas and the enquiries of the researcher. This commitment can be experienced in the following clip:
In this clip I am working with Jacqueline Delong on making public, as a living standard of judgment in her thesis, her systemic influence. Jacqueline's originality of mind and critical judgment in her thesis (see http://people.bath.ac.uk/edsajw/delong.shtml ) is focused on her explanation of the forming and sustaining of a culture of inquiry within the Grand Erie District School Board in Ontario. In the process of the enquiry we both recognized the importance of addressing the issue of 'system's influence'. This was partly because of the desire not to be open to the criticism that the generation of living educational theories was restricted to an inner process of learning and had no systemic influence in the learning of social formations.
In fulfilling my commitment to enquiry I also share the understandings that have emerged from my own research programme into the nature of educational theory.
This sharing of accounts that distinguishes my creative experiencing from my value experiencing is taking place through the flow of my writings from http://people.bath.ac.uk/edsajw/writing.shtml . These include the accounts of my creative experiencing in response to attempts to terminate my employment in 1976, to forbid me from questioning the judgments of examiners of my doctoral submissions in 1980 and 1982 under any circumstances, pressure on my academic freedom in 1991, and a rejection of my own recognition of the validity of the case I put forward in 2006 (see Ð http://www.jackwhitehead.com/jwreadership.htm ) that I have made a sufficient contribution to the advancement of knowledge to be promoted from a Lecturer to a Readership after 33 years of productive life in the University of Bath.
I do not usually make a point of directing those I work with to these writings because of what I perceive as a danger that they could detract from my focus on supporting the research programme of the other. The writings exist as cultural artefacts flowing through web-space alongside the living theories of others for you to access if you choose.
Urging you to add your writings to the flow of living theories in webspace and adding my own writings to this flow of communication is part of what I do. Our influences in the learning of others is connected to their own creative experiencing of our understandings. I look for evidence of this influence in constructing evidence-based explanations of my educational influence in my own learning, in the learning of others and in the learning of social formations.
How do I explain my educational influence in my own learning, in the learning of others and in the learning of social formations?
How do I explain my educational influence in my own learning?
I think my choice of question can be explained as follows. I recognized an error in the assumptions of the dominant 'disciplines' approach to educational theory in 1971. The error was that non of the existing disciplines of education, taken individually or in any combination, could produce an adequate explanation for my educational influence in my own learning or for my educational influences in the learning of my pupils. In 1983, Paul Hirst, one of the main proponents of the disciplines acknowledged a mistake in the assumptions of the disciplines approach that I identify as consistent with the error I experienced:
Much understanding of educational theory will be developed:
"... in the context of immediate practical experience and will be co-terminous with everyday understanding. In particular, many of its operational principles, both explicit and implicit, will be of their nature generalisations from practical experience and have as their justification the results of individual activities and practices.
In many characterisations of educational theory, my own included, principles justified in this way have until recently been regarded as at best pragmatic maxims having a first crude and superficial justification in practice that in any rationally developed theory would be replaced by principles with more fundamental, theoretical justification. That now seems to me to be a mistake. Rationally defensible practical principles, I suggest, must of their nature stand up to such practical tests and without that are necessarily inadequate." (Hirst, 1983, p. 18)
Since recognizing this error I have felt a vocational commitment to contribute to the generation of educational theories that can explain the educational influences of individuals in their own learning, in the learning of others and in the social formations within which they live. To distinguish these explanations from the explanations generated from the conceptual frameworks of disciplines of education such as they philosophy, psychology, sociology and history of education, I called them living educational theories. The choice of 'living' was influenced by Ilyenkov's (1977) question, 'If an object exists as a living contradiction, what must the thought be that expresses it?' Since experiencing myself as a living contradiction on viewing video-tapes of my classroom practice in 1971, I liked the idea of generating explanations of educational influences in learning, that contained living contradictions and that could be distinguishable from other forms of theory, as living educational theories.
The idea of being able to explain something has fascinated me for as long as I can remember. I am particularly interested in the explanations individuals give for why they are doing what they are doing. I often feel privileged when individuals share with me their narratives of their lives in which they give reasons to explain what influenced them in becoming who are they and what they are doing.
I use the idea of influence to stress the intentional, rather than causal nature of educational relationships. Because I accept some responsibility for my educational influences in own learning, I do say that I am educating myself, in the sense that I am responsible for my educational influences in my own learning. I resist making claims that I have educated anyone else, in a direct, causal sense of 'because I did this, then the other learnt that'. For me to recognize my educational influence in the learning of another I must see that what I have done has been mediated by the valuing or creative experiencing of the other, in their own learning.
I feel affirmed in my choice of 'influence' in my research programme through the words of Said as he focuses on the importance of assessing originality and derivation:
"As a poet indebted to and friendly with Mallarme, Valery was compelled to assess originality and derivation in a way that said something about a relationship between two poets that could not be reduced to a simple formula. As the actual circumstances were rich, so too had to be the attitude. Here is an example from the 'Letter About Mallarme'.
No word comes easier of oftener to the critic's pen than the word influence, and no vaguer notion can be found among all the vague notions that compose the phantom armory of aesthetics. Yet there is nothing in the critical field that should be of greater philosophical interest or prove more rewarding to analysis than the progressive modification of one mind by the work of another." (Said, 1997, p.15)
In explaining my educational influences in my own learning I use the same explanatory principles of energy, value, faith/belief, enquiry/creative experiencing and sharing understandings as I do in describing and explaining what I do in my educational influences in the learning of others.
I have published three substantial accounts of the growth of my educational knowledge. In 1993, my book, The Growth of Educational Knowledge, was published. In 1999, at the third attempt following two rejections in 1980 and 1982, my doctoral thesis was accepted by the University of Bath. This was on, 'How Do I Improve My Practice? Creating a discipline of education through educational enquiry'. You can access Volume 1 of the thesis at http://people.bath.ac.uk/edsajw/jack.shtml . Volume 1 contains the analysis of the growth of my educational knowledge in the movement within and between my publications between 1977-1999. Volume 11 contains the analysis and the publications and is in the Library of the University of Bath.
In 2004, the electronic journal Action Research Expeditions published the multi-media account. "Do Action Researchers' Expeditions Carry Hope For The Future Of Humanity? How Do We Know? An enquiry into reconstructing educational theory and educating social formations." You can access both accounts of the growth of my educational knowledge from http://www.arexpeditions.montana.edu/articleviewer.php?AID=80 . Part one of the account in Action Research Expeditions contains the live url to take you to the full text of The Growth of Educational Knowledge at http://www.bath.ac.uk/~edsajw/bk93/geki.htm .
I explain my educational influences in my own learning with the following explanatory principles and developing skills and understandings.
A flow of life-affirming energy moves me to act. Socio-historical and socio-cultural conditions have opened up possibilities for me to explore my vocational commitment to contribute to the generation of educational theories that carry hope for the future of humanity. I feel a commitment of faith in the belief that a productive life can be characterized as enhancing the flow of educational influences of such living educational theories.
My ontological values are both meaning-forming and operative in reality. By this I mean that, when I experience myself as a living contradiction because my values, such as those flowing with a life-affirming energy of freedom, justice, love and democracy are not being lived as fully as I believe they could be, I can explain what I do in terms of seeking to live such values as fully as I can.
Given that the socio-historical and socio-cultural conditions influence the possibilities of what I can do in reality, I seek to enhance my understandings of these conditions in a way that enhances the probability of spreading what I know to be possible in a particular context. I include these growths in my cognitive range and concern within my explanations for my educational influences in my own learning. I also explain my educational influences in learning in terms of the skills I develop that serve to enhance the flow of the educational influences of living educational theories. For example, I have become skillful in using Winter's six principles for enhancing the rigour in action research accounts. By this I mean that I focus attention on the meanings of dialectical and reflexive critique, on risk, on plural structure, on multiple resource and on theory practice transformations, in the generation of an explanation of learning. I have also become skillful in facilitating the formation and operation of validation groups that use Habermas' four criteria of social validation in reaching understandings. By this I mean that I focus attention on the issues of comprehensibility, on evidence to justify assertions, on making explicit the normative assumptions in an account, and on authenticity being demonstrated through time and interaction. I use these skills to enhance the validity of my explanations of my educational influences in my own learning. I urge you to develop a similar clarity in explaining how your enhance the rigour and validity of your explanations.
An illustration of how I explain my educational influences in my own learning can be seen in the way I am now drawing on Vasilyuk's psychological theory of experiencing to make a distinction between value experiencing and creative experiencing in explaining my educational influence in my own learning. Up to this point in the growth of my educational knowledge, as I enquire, 'How do I explain my educational influences in my own learning?' I have not made a distinction between valuing experiencing and creative experiencing. Vasilyuk's theorizing is now enabling me to explain my educational influences in my own learning in a way that recognizes the role of different forms of experiencing.
For example value experiencing helps me to understand how I can respond to my realistic experiencing, that accepts what is. I can respond with value experiencing that transforms realistic experiencing into an imaginary ideal of what could be possible.
Creative experiencing enables me to respond to my value experiencing with practice changes in my form of life.
In explaining my educational influences in my own learning, it is important to recognize the significance of being receptively responsive to the influence of the lives and ideas of others. I explain the extension and transformation of my understandings in relation to this receptive responsiveness as part of my understanding of Rayner's ideas of inclusionality. For example, I explain my educational influence in my learning about inclusionality, by drawing on the idea of being receptively responsive to learning from the ideas of others. I explain my educational influences in this learning by including my responsibility for guiding my choice of ideas that I am going to engage with. For example, I sometimes feel under pressure from others to engage with the particular readings and theories that have been a priority for them. At this moment of writing I know that I have made a choice to focus on sharing the integration of Vasilyuk's theory of experiencing in an explanation of my educational influences in my learning I will return to this choice when I focus on the explanations of educational influence in the learning of social formations and after explaining my educational influence in the learning of others.
Explaining my educational influence in the learning of others
The evidence for the learning of others that I think is beyond reasonable doubt is in the 20 higher degrees below, with 19 doctorates and one M.Phil. degree. The legitimation of doctoral degrees is one of society's ways of testing the epistemological validity of claims to knowledge and power relations are always involved in these legitimations (Foucault 1980). I supervised 19 of the degrees, two jointly. Each of the doctoral theses has been examined with criteria that include judgements on originality, contributions to knowledge, rigour in using critical standards of judgement and the extent and merit of the work. Each thesis is presented as a narrative of the researchers' learning and I want to emphasise, each thesis contains evidence that justifies the researcher's claim to have explained their own learning.
Given that much of my productive life in the University has been spent on a research programme into the nature of educational theories that can explain educational influences in learning, I include in my research my developing understanding of my educational influence in the learning of others. Without in any way detracting from the unique contribution to knowledge of each researcher I want to examine the evidence of their learning to see if I can explain my educational influence in their learning. I want to do this because of a flow of energy of affirmation I feel when I see something that I have produced, or have done, has been of value to another in the creation of their own form of life with values I associate with hope for the future of humanity. In other words I want to hold a justifiable belief about my educational influence in the learning of others because this enhances the flow of my life-affirming energy in my productive work.
Given my assumption that I cannot claim to have educated anyone other than myself, I want to explain my educational influence in a way that respects the receptive responsiveness of the other in their value experiencing and creative experiencing. The evidence of learning I have in mind is in the following theses. You can access the Abstract and Contents of each from the live urls in the list below. At this point in your reader, I would appreciate it if you would just quickly browse through the titles to get a sense of the focus of each thesis and then move to my comments below in which I am explaining my educational influence in the learning of the individual researchers.
Eames, K. (1995) How do I, as a teacher and educational action-researcher, describe and explain the nature of my professional knowledge? Ph.D. Thesis, University of Bath. Retrieved 30 October 2006 from
Evans, M. (1995) An action research enquiry into reflection in action as part of my role as a deputy headteacher. Ph.D. Thesis, Kingston University. Retrieved 30 October 2006 from
Laidlaw, M. (1996) How can I create my own living educational theory as I offer you an account of my educational development? Ph.D. thesis, University of Bath. Retrieved 30 October 2006 from
Holley, E. (1997) How do I as a teacher-researcher contribute to the development of a living educational theory through an exploration of my values in my professional practice? M.Phil., University of Bath. Retrieved 30 October 2006 from
D'Arcy, P. (1998) The Whole Story..... Ph.D. Thesis, University of Bath. Retrieved 30 October 2006 from
Loftus, J. (1999) An action enquiry into the marketing of an established first school in its transition to full primary status. Ph.D. thesis, Kingston University. Retrieved 30 October 2006 from
Cunningham, B. (1999) How do I come to know my spirituality as I create my own living educational theory? Ph.D. Thesis, University of Bath. Retrieved 30 October 2006 from
Finnegan, (2000) How do I create my own educational theory in my educative relations as an action researcher and as a teacher? Ph.D. submission, University of Bath. Retrieved 30 October 2006 from
Austin, T. (2001) Treasures in the Snow: What do I know and how do I know it through my educational inquiry into my practice of community? Ph.D. Thesis, University of Bath. Retrieved 30 October 2006 from
Mead, G. (2001) Unlatching the Gate: Realising the Scholarship of my Living Inquiry. Ph.D. University of Bath. Retrieved 30 October 2006 from
Bosher, M. (2001) How can I as an educator and Professional Development Manager working with teachers, support and enhance the learning and achievement of pupils in a whole school improvement process? Ph.D. University of Bath. Retrieved 30 October 2006 from
Delong, J. (2002) How Can I Improve My Practice As A Superintendent of Schools and Create My Own Living Educational Theory? Ph.D. University of Bath. Retrieved 30 October 2006 from
Scholes-Rhodes, J. (2002) From the Inside Out: Learning to presence my aesthetic and spiritual being through the emergent form of a creative art of inquiry. Ph.D. University of Bath. Retrieved 30 October 2006 from http://www.bath.ac.uk/~edsajw/rhodes.shtml
Roberts, P. (2003) Emerging Selves in Practice: How do I and others create my practice and how does my practice shape me and influence others? Ph.D. University of Bath. Retrieved 19 August 2004 from http://www.bath.ac.uk/~edsajw/roberts.shtml
Punia, R. (2004) My CV is My Curriculum: The Making of an International Educator with Spiritual Values. Ed.D. University of Bath. Retrieved 19 August 2004 from http://www.bath.ac.uk/~edsajw/punia.shtml
Hartog, M. (2004) A Self Study Of A Higher Education Tutor: How Can I Improve My Practice? Ph.D. University of Bath. Retrieved 19 August 2004 from http://www.bath.ac.uk/~edsajw/hartog.shtml
Church, M. (2004) Creating an uncompromised place to belong: Why do I find myself in networks? Retrieved 24 May 2005 from http://www.bath.ac.uk/~edsajw/church.shtml
Naidoo, M. (2005) I am Because We Are. (My never-ending story) The emergence of a living theory of inclusional and responsive practice. Ph.D. University of Bath. Retrieved 2 April 2006 from
Farren, M. (2005) How can I create a pedagogy of the unique through a web of betweenness? Ph.D. University of Bath. Retrieved 2 April 2006 from http://www.bath.ac.uk/~edsajw/farren.shtml
Lohr, E. (2006) Love at Work: What is my lived experience of love and how might I become an instrument of love's purpose. Ph.D. University of Bath. Retrieved 26 May 2006 from http://www.bath.ac.uk/~edsajw/living.shtml
Sullivan, B. (2006) A living theory of a practice of social justice: Realising the right of traveller children for educational equality. Ph.D. University of Limerick. Supervised by Jean McNiff. Retrieved 6 July 2006 from
In explaining my educational influence in the learning I rely on the voices of each researcher as they explain their own learning. I think that it is beyond reasonable doubt that when individual researchers use the following three ideas and acknowledge their source in our conversations or my publications, I can justifiably claim to have influenced the learning. This belief is of course open to question. The three ideas I have in mind are that:
i) Explanations of learning in which individuals explain how they are seeking to live their values as fully as they can constitute their living educational theory.
ii) Living educational theories include 'I' as a living contradiction in enquiries of the kind, 'How do I improve what I am doing?'
iii) Action Reflection Cycles of expressing concerns, producing action plans, acting and gathering data on which to make a judgement of influence, evaluating and producing explanations of educational influences in learning for oneself and a validation group, can clarify the meanings of ontological values, in the course of their emergence in practice, in a way that generates communicable living epistemological standards of judgement for evaluating the validity of knowledge claims.
Bernie Sullivan's thesis is different to the other theses in that this was supervised by Jean McNiff. Jean and I have worked together for some 25 years, first as supervisor and researcher and as colleagues since her graduation from the University of Bath in 1989. We have influenced greatly each others' lives and work. In her thesis on 'A living theory of a practice of social justice: Realising the right of traveller children for educational equality' Bernie Sullivan affirms the value of the idea of living theory and brings her creative experiencing to bear in her own receptive reponsiveness to the experience of a denial of her value of social justice in the lack of educational equality open to traveller children in Ireland. Bernie clarifies the meaning of her ontological value of social justice in the course of its expression in her work and research with traveller children and uses her living standard of judgement of social justice in evaluating the validity of her contribution to educational knowledge. Seeing something that I have produced being used by others in affirming the quality of their own form of life enhances the flow of life-affirming energy in my own desire to continue to support the generation and communication of living educational theories.
I haven't checked the validity of the following conjecture with Jean McNiff, but it is based on my experience of seeing Jean in supervision sessions with researchers she is supervising and in workshops on action research. I have seen Jean connecting with others through the expression of an energy I feel is life-affirming. For Jean I believe that this flows with her Christian faith. I mention this because of my own non-theistic response to the recognition of the significance of a flow of life-affirming energy. In saying this I can acknowledge my use of language moved by a theistic faith. For example I identify with Paul Tillich's expression of the state of being grasped by the power of being. I have seen Jean expressing faith in the embodied knowledge and being of others with a passion to bring the narratives of the lives of learning of others into being and disseminated in the public domain. Jean has also affirmed the use-value she has found in forming her own life in the generation of her own living educational theory (McNiff, 2006) and encourages those she works with to engage with ideas in our shared and individual publications. My conjecture is that without the sustained and passionate expression of these values and understandings in her relationship with Bernie, then you would not be seeing the affirmation of the use-value of ideas from my own research programme being used creatively in the thesis. Hence, in explaining my educational influence in the lives of others, I recognise the mediating influence of others in enhancing the flow of the communication of the ideas. Without such communications becoming cultural artefacts in books and web-space, I do not believe that the following evidence in an explanation of educational influence in the learning of social formations could be produced.
Explaining my educational influence in the learning of social formations
Explaining the growth of my educational knowledge and my educational influences in learning often feels complex. Sometimes, as in the extension and transformation of my understandings with inclusionality the learning takes place with a flow of loving life-affirming energy and excitement, with no sense of a life crisis. At other times and contexts, the learning takes place in the creative experiencing of crisis, struggle, tension and contradiction. I like Popper's idea (1963) that one's friends should offer the most stringent criticism to ensure that one does not persist in erroneous beliefs. Some of my most significant learning however, has taken place, not in the flow of the loving energy of friendship, but in response to the exercise of disciplinary power in the workplace that has been imposed without any of the qualities of friendship and with more of the qualities that Lyotard identifies as a form of intellectual terrorism:
"Countless scientists have seen their 'move' ignored or repressed, sometimes for decades, because it too abruptly destabilized the accepted positions, not only in the university and scientific hierarchy, but also in the problematic. The stronger the 'move' the more likely it is to be denied the minimum consensus, precisely because it changes the rules of the game upon which the consensus has been based. But when the institution of knowledge functions in this manner, it is acting like an ordinary power center whose behaviour is governed by a principle of homeostasis.
Such behaviour is terrorist.... By terror I mean the efficiency gained by eliminating, or threatening to eliminate a player from the language game one shares with him. He is silenced or consents, not because he has been refuted, but because his ability to participate has been threatened (there are many ways to prevent someone from playing). The decision makers' arrogance, which in principle has no equivalent in the sciences, consistes of the exercise of terror. It says: "Adapt your aspirations to our ends Ð or else". (Lyotard, 1986, p 64)
In explaining my educational influences in the learning of social formations I want to focus on my responses to the quality of criticism offered in the spirit of critical friendship and my responses to criticism that are made from within the disciplinary power relations of my workplace and that I shall explore in relation to questions about the recognition of the power of truth within the exercise of the truth of power.
A criticism I value highly and respond to in the spirit of critical friendship was made of the development of a living theory approach by Noffke:
"As vital as such a process of self-awareness is to identifying the contradictions between one's espoused theories and one's practices, perhaps because of its focus on individual learning, it only begins to address the social basis of personal belief systems. While such efforts can further a kind of collective agency (McNiff, 1988), it is a sense of agency built on ideas of society as a collection of autonomous individuals. As such, it seems incapable of addressing social issues in terms of the interconnections between personal identity and the claim of experiential knowledge, as well as power and privilege in society." (Noffke, 1998, p. 329)
I see the legitimation of Ubuntu as a living standard of judgement in the Academy as a way of connecting personal identity and claims of experiential knowledge, to issues of power and privilege in society. Li and Laidlaw (2006) have addressed this issue in their action research in rural China where social issues are connected with influences in social formations and not reduced to individual accounts of practice.
I connect Noffke's criticism with a point made by Bourdieu about the rules governing the analysis of social formations:
"The objective adjustment between dispositions and structures ensures a conformity to objective demands and urgencies which has nothing to do with rules and conscious compliance with rules, and gives an appearance of finality which in no way implies conscious positing of the ends objectively attained. Thus, paradoxically, social science makes greatest use of the language of rules precisely in the cases where it is most totally inadequate, that is, in analysing social formations in which, because of the constancy of the objective conditions over time, rules have a particularly small part to play in the determination of practices, which is largely entrusted to the automatisms of the habitus." (Bourdieu, p. 145, 1990)
In responding to Noffke's criticism I will explain my educational influence in the learning of social formations as I address social issues in terms of the interconnections between personal identity and the claim of experiential knowledge, as well as power and privilege in society. The social issue I shall focus on is the issue of analysing social formations that show constancy of the objective conditions over time in relation to the power relations that limit what counts as evidence of contributions to knowledge to propositional language and logic in internationally-renowned and refereed journals.
Accepting Bourdieu's (1990) point that rules have a particularly small part to play in the determination of these practices, which is largely entrusted to the automatisms of the habitus, I shall then draw insights from Bernstein's (2000) ideas on pedagogy, symbolic control and identity, to explain my educational influence in the learning of social formations. I shall explain this influence in terms of a pedagogic intent in relation to the recontextualising of the embodied knowledge of practitioner-researchers. I am thinking of this recontextualisation of knowledge from the context of their practice in their workplaces, into the context of the Academy as legitimated and accredited knowledge. I shall explain this recontextualisation in terms of constituting an educational knowledge base with the relationally dynamic awareness of inclusionality, with inclusional logics and living standards of judgement.
Educational influences in the learning of social formations
Here is an example to show what I mean by an educational influence in the learning of a social formation. In 1980 the regulations of the University of Bath were applied to requests to question the judgements of examiners of research degrees. The response was that under no circumstances, once the examiners had been appointed by Senate, could the judgements be questioned. By 1991 the regulations had changed to permit questioning on the grounds of bias, prejudice and inadequate assessment. I am seeing a move in the rules that govern an organisation, from ones that deny values such as freedom to question to rules that permit questioning as evidence of an educational influence in the learning of a social formation.
In Vasilyuk's terms I am focusing attention on a crisis in my experience to explain my educational influence in the learning of a social formation. The learning I have in mind is in a move from a belief in the Academy that it is necessary to produce articles that can be disseminated via established and renowned international refereed journals, to establish that an individual has made an outstanding contribution to the advancement of knowledge. I am thinking of a move from this belief to one that understands the nature of the outstanding contribution to the advancement of knowledge of the flow of the above living theories through web-space. I have the following vested interest in this move. In 2006, I applied for a Readership after some 33 years as a Lecturer in Education. My application is at http://www.jackwhitehead.com/jwreadership.htm . The application was rejected without interview on the grounds that I had not yet made an outstanding contribution to the advancement of knowledge and that for me to develop my case further it will be necessary to focus on producing articles which can be disseminated via established and renowned international refereed journals. Here is a brief description of the context of this experience from an earlier paper (Whitehead, 2006).
"My most recent experience of existing as a living contradiction is in holding together a perception of myself as an educational researcher who has made a sufficient contribution to educational knowledge to warrant promotion from a Lecturer to a Reader in Education in the University of Bath, with the perception of the Academic Staff Committee of the University that I have not yet made such a contribution. Having joined the University of Bath as a Lecturer in Education in 1973 following six years of very rapid promotion from teacher, to the highest grade Head of Department in London Comprehensive Schools, it isn't that I have always avoided promotion! But in my life's work at the University of Bath I have resisted the encouragement of colleagues to apply for promotion on the following grounds. In 1976 there was an attempt by the University to terminate my employment on the grounds of dissatisfaction with my teaching and research and that I had disturbed the good order and morale of the whole School of Education. The attempt did not succeed because the disciplinary power of the University was met with a greater external power mobilised by students and colleagues internal to the University and involving distinguished academics I had not met, being willing to comment on the quality of my research. It also involved a Professor of Public Law from the Campaign for Academic Freedom and Democracy freely taking up my case.
I still marvel at the willingness of others to come to my assistance and the strength of their political integrity in engaging with the disciplinary power of the University. I gained a tenured appointed until August 2009 because of their efforts. In recognition of their altruistic response and care for the other in terms of truth and justice, I have not found it possible to seek promotion that would remove the tenure. This isn't anything to do with job security as some might think. It was connected with the pleasure I felt in the moral commitment of others to express their values with political integrity in their actions. In 2005, I felt a change in my moral purpose. Having spent a working life in researching educational theory, I felt that the University's recognition of my contribution to educational knowledge would serve to enhance the influence of the flow of living educational theories. I still feel this. Hence I felt comfortable in putting my case for promotion to a Readership to the Academic Staff Committee of the University. You can access this application at http://www.jackwhitehead.com/jwreadership.pdf and evaluate its legitimacy as a case for promotion from Lecturer to Reader at Universities similar to the University of Bath.
Earlier this year the case was rejected without interview on the grounds that I had yet to make the outstanding contribution to knowledge required for a Readership by the University. In order to develop my case I must publish further in internationally recognised and reputable Journals. Now, this brings me to the two present strands in my experience of living contradictions in my work and research. I feel the first contradiction in holding my perception of myself as having made sufficient contribution to knowledge for a Readership, together with the perception of the Academic Staff Committee that I have not. The other strand of my experience of living contradiction is in the pressure to publish in the very journals that I have been critical of as being too limited in their forms of representation to carry my meanings. The crux of this contradiction is I have been seeking to research multi-media representations of embodied values in explanations of educational influence. One of the only International Refereed Journals I know in my field that is publishing multi-media accounts is Action Research Expeditions and you can access my most ambitious publishing effort to date from the live url above. Now, it was only in 2004 that the University of Bath changed its regulations to allow the submission of e-media. I served on the committee that made the recommendation for the change in regulation to Senate. Five doctoral researchers have successfully submitted their living theory, multi-media accounts to the University since the change in regulation and you can access these from the Data section above. However, there is no international and reputable journal that can publish the visual narrative of Marian Naidoo's emergent living theory of inclusional and responsive practice. This is because of the multi-media visual narrative on a DVD included in the Thesis. Yet, this thesis is in the University Library accepted as a doctoral thesis that has demonstrated her originality of mind and critical judgement and the extent and merit of her work.
The point I am making is that the requirement to focus my writings on publishing in international and renowned international journals flies in the face of my multi-media publications in which I have been explaining that the logic and language of these journals, up to 2006, is too limited to carry the meanings I am seeking to communicate in my contributions to educational knowledge. I may of course be mistaken in my belief that my contributions to educational knowledge do warrant recognition by the University of Bath as sufficient for promotion to Reader. What is fascinating me as my enquiry continues, and given the history of judgements on my work by the University over the thirty years of 1976-2006, is MacIntyre's view that:
The rival claims to truth of contending traditions of enquiry depend for their vindication upon the adequacy and explanatory power of the histories which the resources of each of those traditions in conflict enable their adherents to write. (MacIntyre, 1988, p. 403)
I continue to exist as a living contradiction. I hold the belief that the recognition by the University of my contribution to educational knowledge would assist in enhancing the flow of its influence, together with the experience and understanding that the explicit lack of recognition could damage the flow of its influence.
Having described what I mean by an educational influence in the learning of a social formations I now want to explore the nature of my explanations of the educational influences.
Explaining my educational influences in the learning of social formations.
I am making an assumption, in my explanations of educational influence in the learning of the social formation of the global Academy. My assumption is that there is a need to generate a new epistemology for legitimation in the Academy. In this assumption I am in agreement with Schon's (1995) call for a new epistemology. I am also making the assumption that this epistemology requires the legitimation of new relationally-dynamic standards of judgement that are informed by an African way of being of Ubuntu. You can view my responses to the question, 'Do the values and living logics I express in my educational relationships carry the hope of Ubuntu for the future of humanity?' from a BERA 2004 presentation at http://www.jackwhitehead.com/jwbera04d.pdf
In an e-mail of the 29th September 2006 Mark Potts explains the use he is making of ideas from this BERA presentation.
I read your Draft paper of September 2004 on your educational relationships and Ubuntu with interest. I am pursuing the leads that you give on Ubuntu to give myself a better understanding of the idea and to see how I can use it as I develop the partnership between
Salisbury High School and Nqabakazulu School
So, in explaining my educational influence in the learning of social formations I need to see that ideas I have shared with others have been found useful in what they are doing. To meet Noffke's (1998) criticism I must be able to show that living theories are addressing social issues in terms of the interconnections between personal identity and the claim of experiential knowledge, as well as power and privilege in society. The power and privilege I am engaging with are focused on the rules that govern the Academies judgements on what counts as a contribution to educational knowledge. Because the national criteria used in the UK's 2008 Research Assessment Exercise focus on originality, significance and rigour in terms of:
4* Quality that is world-leading in terms of originality, significance and rigour;
3* Quality that is internationally excellent in terms of originality, significance but
which nontheless falls short of the highest standards of excellence;
2* Quality that is recognised internationally in terms of originality, significance and
1* Quality that is recognised nationally in terms of originality, significance and
I am interested in how these judgements can be made in relation to the knowledge-base of living theories flowing through web-space. At present there is no general acceptance of the standards of judgment that are appropriate for judging the originality, significance and rigour of practice-based research (Furlong & Oancea, 2005)
I want to provide more evidence of the learning of a social formation before I explain my educational influence in the learning. In a six year doctoral research programme into the formation and sustaining of a culture of inquiry in the Grand Erie District School Board in Ontario, Jacqueline Delong, a Superintendent of Schools, has explained her own learning and educational influence in the learning of others in her living educational theory (Delong, 2002) from
The idea of individuals generating their living theories is being used in sustaining the culture of inquiry in the Grand Erie Board. I am assuming that the explicit integration of a living theory approach to the professional learning of educators within a social formation, from a point in time when this approach did not exist, is evidence of an educational influence in the learning of the social formation. From the ground of this evidence in the learning of social formations I now want to focus on explaining my educational influence in such learning.
Explaining my educational influence in the learning of social formations is a relationally dynamic explanation involving the explanations of others for their learning as they use some ideas from my own work. My explanation of my educational influences rests on the responsive receptiveness and creative experiencing of the other. I could not have an educational influence without the creative engagement and desire for learning of the other. From past experience I know the dangers of being misunderstood as I explain my educational influence in the learning of social formations. In a relationally dynamic explanation of inclusionality there is a receptive responsiveness at work.
I will illustrate this in relation to an explanation of the educational influence of my pedagogy in recontextualising the embodied knowledge of practitioners from their workplaces into the cultural artefacts of the living educational theories that are flowing through webspace.
I will also illustrate this in terms of bringing Ubuntu into the global Academy as a living standard of judgement to evaluate the validity of explanations of educational influences in the learning of social formations.
Explaining an educational influence in the learning of a social formation
The educational influence I am focusing attention on is the legitimation of the living educational theory theses above that are in the Library of the University of Bath. I am assuming that one of the primary purposes of a University is the imaginative acquisition of knowledge. I am taking this growth in the knowledge-base of the University to include the living educational theory theses. In that my influence in the learning of the researchers has been acknowledged by the researchers themselves, I want to explain this influence in terms of two ideas from Basil Bernstein on explicit pedagogy and the recontextualisation of knowledge.
For Bernstein (2000), pedagogy is a sustained process whereby somebody acquires new forms or develops existing forms of conduct, knowledge, practice and criteria from somebody or something deemed to be an appropriate provider and evaluator - appropriate either from the point of view of the acquirer or by some other body or both. (p.78). Explicit pedagogy refers to the visibility of the transmitter's intention as to what is to be acquired from the point of view of the acquirer. In an explicit pedagogy the intention is highly visible. (p.200)
In my supervision of research programmes my intentions are highly visible in relation to my focus on the creation of living educational theories that can include 'I' as a living contradiction. The intentions are highly visible in the action reflection process of clarifying the meanings of embodied and ontological values in the course of their emergence in enquiries of the kind, 'how do I improve what I am doing?' They are highly visible in the process of forming living epistemological standards of judgement from this expression and clarification of ontological values. Now, it might be that in your enquiries your intentions, in producing your thesis as a pedagogic text are more tacit and implicit. This would make your task more difficult than mine, in making your intentions as explicit as possible.
So, I am explaining my educational influence in the learning of a social formation to embody living educational theories in its knowledge-base, in terms of my explicit pedagogy. The second idea I use from Bernstein is that of the recontextualisation of knowledge. At the heart of my belief about my productive life is still the idea that the language and logic of propositional theory as exemplified in established and renowned international refereed journals, that are text and paper based, cannot adequately represent our embodied knowledges as practitioner-researchers. This is of course open to your questioning and you may find that text and paper based accounts are adequate for your purpose.
Take the educational knowledge of educators as an illustration of my belief that paper based accounts are too limited. Educators in schools, and other professionals in their workplace contexts, carry out their professional practices with the values, skills and understandings of their embodied knowledge. My vocational commitment has been to see if I could find ways of expressing, communicating and legitimating their embodied knowledge, as public knowledge in the Academy, with publically-communicable standards of judgement. Catherine Snow, in her 2001 Presidential Address to the American Educational Research Association, expressed her belief in the value of doing this in a way that resonates with my own:
"The .... challenge is to enhance the value of personal knowledge and personal experience for practice. Good teachers possess a wealth of knowledge about teaching that cannot currently be drawn upon effectively in the preparation of novice teachers or in debates about practice. The challenge here is not to ignore or downplay this personal knowledge, but to elevate it. The knowledge resources of excellent teachers constitute a rich resource, but one that is largely untapped because we have no procedures for systematizing it. Systematizing would require procedures for accumulating such knowledge and making it public, for connecting it to bodies of knowledge established through other methods, and for vetting it for correctness and consistency. If we had agreed-upon procedures for transforming knowledge based on personal experiences of practice into 'public' knowledge, analogous to the way a researcher's private knowledge is made public through peer-review and publication, the advantages would be great." (Snow, 2001, p.9)
I think it is beyond reasonable doubt that the living theories in the list above have been legitimated by the Academy and are flowing through web-space. I think it is beyond reasonable doubt that my explicit pedagogic intent, together with the creative experiencing and responses in the learning of the researchers, explains my educational influence in the learning of a social formation. I believe my sustained commitment to recontextualise the embodied knowledge of educators and other professionals, from their professional practices and into the knowledge-base of the Academy, and into cultural artefacts flowing through web-space, also explains my educational influence in the learning of a social formation. I now want to focus on the generation of an explanation of my educational influence in the learning of a social formation with Ubuntu.
I first encountered the idea of Ubuntu in conversations with Yaakub Murray, whose welcome to his website includes an English translation of Ubuntu as 'I am because we are' (http://royagcol.ac.uk/~paul_murray ). The significance of Ubuntu for the future of society was highlighted by Bill Clinton in his speech to the Labour Party Conference on the 28th September 2006 (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/5388182.stm ). The difficulty of translating Ubuntu into a Western language has been emphasised by Desmond Tutu, "Ubuntu is very difficult to render into a Western language... It is to say, 'My humanity is caught up, is inextricably bound up, in what is yours.'" (see http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/5388182.stm )
As I have done in the previous sections, I shall begin with a visual narrative that expresses for me the meanings of Ubuntu as these are being lived, before explaining how I am seeking to support the recontexualisation of this embodied knowledge into the public knowledge-base of the Academy and into the flow of cultural arteacts through web-space.
Returning to the image and visual record of Eden Charles' eulogy for his grandmother:
I have checked with Eden that he feels that he is living with Ubuntu in expressing his admiration for his grandmother and her life and especially for her expression of life-affirming energy in 'The Dance'. In supporting the generation of his doctoral thesis I have worked with Eden to produce multi-media narratives that communicate his understandings of the significance of an African Cosmology with Ubuntu in the evolution of his life and learning. My pedagogic intentions are explicit in communicating what I am seeing as the significance in Eden's writings of his originality of mind and critical judgement and in the extent and merit of his work. I am seeing the genesis of a living educational theory that can bring Ubuntu as a living standard of judgement into the Academy. I am seeing the legitimation of a decolonizing account of the life of a successful Black man who has experienced, worked with and responded creatively to contexts of 'whiteness'. By 'whiteness' I am meaning power relations that sustain white privilege. I am seeing the legitimation of an explanation of educational influences in the learning of an individual, his influence in the learning of others and in social formations. The explanation, flowing with Ubuntu, connects with practices of inclusionality that celebrate difference and diversity. It shows the learning of a life lived with Ubuntu through which the love for other human beings enables the individual to remain open to the possibilities of enhancing the flow of values that carry hope for the future of humanity. It recognizes the inhumanity of human beings to each other, while persisting to live a life lived with Ubuntu, in the belief that this will make a contribution to the future of humanity and oneself.
In sharing these ideas, I am hoping that they have relevance for your doctoral, postdoctoral or other research programmes.
What I continue to find inspiring is your own spontaneous expression of your own life-affirming energy. I find that this enhances the flow of my own with pleasure. I also continue to feel passionate about bringing your ontological values, the values you use to give meaning and purpose to you lives, into the Academy in your narratives of your learning. I hope you have found some of the enquiry processes we have engaged in have helped you to form your embodied values into the living epistemological standards of judgement that can be used to evaluate the validity of your explanations.
I am also hoping that you find useful my explication of the three logics at work in the different modes of thought we use in comprehending the real as rational. In showing how I am making use of Vasilyuk's psychology of experiencing it may be that you too can use his understandings of energy and value and creative experiencing.
Looking forward to sharing more of your writings as you gain accreditation for your doctoral and other research programmes in the Academy with theses and other writings that clearly communicate originality of mind and critical judgment, significance, rigour and validity, in the generation of explanations for your educational influences in learning. I'm particularly enthusiastic about seeing your theses as cultural artifacts flowing through webspace!
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