Investigating the Teacher’s Life and Work attempts to bring together the methodological and substantive aspects of studying the teacher’s life and work. Some of the chapters in the book provide a “how to do” approach for those wishing to study the teacher’s life and work employing a life history method; whilst other chapters provide the kind of substantive and generic findings which might be anticipated when conducting life history work.
The focus on professional life and work has been growing rapidly in the last two or three decades. There are a number of reasons for this. Firstly there is a methodological impulse; many new studies are adopting a life history approach. The life history tradition aims to understand the interface between people’s life and their work. It also seeks to explore the historical context and the socio-political circumstances in which people’s life and work is located.
A further major reason for investigating the teacher’s life and work at the moment is the huge range of restructuring initiatives taking place throughout the educational world. There is a kind of ‘world movement’ to restructure education and health—certainly in most Western countries. Generally this takes the form of the introduction of the three T’s—targets, tests and tables—and the increasing accountability and performativity regimes associated with these new forms of evaluation.
Significantly these initiatives have been introduced at governmental level in most countries with the minimum of consultation with teacher workforces. As a result there is growing evidence of a clash between professional life and work missions and the restructuring initiatives which aim to transform these missions. Perhaps the best way to explore this increasingly acute clash of values is through the investigation of professional life and work.
Investigating the Teacher’s Life and Work aims to bring together the methodological and substantive approaches and to show how this kind of study can increase our understanding of the interface between government intentions and teacher’s beliefs and motives.