Friday, March 18, 2011

Professional knowledge landscapes

Clandinin, D. J., & Connelly, F. M. (1998). Stories to live by: Narrative understandings of school reform. Curriculum Inquiry, 28(2), 149-194.

There was a notion in this paper that captured my interest. Clandinin and Connelly talk about professional knowledge landscapes, and state these landscapes are narratively constructed. This fits with my idea that knowledge is socially constructed.

“To enter a professional knowledge landscape is to enter a place of story” (p151).
The authors state that this landscape is made up of two 'places'. The first place is an out-of-classroom place which is filled with things that are imposed on teachers such as policies and plans. They call the stories that are created in this place 'sacred'.

The second place is an in-classroom place. This is the safe place of secret stories where teachers are 'free to live stories of practice' (p151).

When teachers move out of their classrooms onto the out-of-classroom place on the landscape, they often live and tell cover stories, stories in which they portray themselves as expert, certain characters whose teacher stories fit within the acceptable range of the story of school being lived in the school. Cover stories enable teachers whose teacher stories are marginalized by whatever the current story of school is to continue to practice and to sustain their teacher stories. (Clandinin and Connelly 1996, p. 25)”
I wonder if the stories we tell when we visit schools to make digital stories cross the boundaries of these two places? We definitely fit in the out-of-classroom place as we represent government policy - The New Zealand Curriculum. However, rather than coming with a sacred story about curriculum we are asking the schools to tell us their stories. This moves the ownership of the story.

Also the story is told by many voices. We hear the 'current story of the school' as explained by leadership, however we also hear the in-classroom stories as we capture teacher practice on film. We also capture student voice and the students reveal those secret classroom stories.

I see this as the value of digital stories for sharing practice across schools. The story is no longer the 'sacred' story imposed on schools. It is a dynamic, living, changing story as lived by teachers and leaders. And in the process of telling and sharing the story the doors of classrooms are opened, the voices of teachers, students, and leaders are heard, and they hear each other. This process adds another plot line, or scene to the story.

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