Totems and Taboos: Risk and Relevance in Research on Teachers and Teaching, is a compilation of selected papers from the 2007 Biennial conference of the International Study Association on Teachers and Teaching (ISATT), held at Brock University. This volume contains keynote addresses and papers based on thematic presentations delivered at the conference; namely, critically investigative items which have been sacred to systems, institutions, and educational practitioners, in order to inform the theory and practice of teaching and research. While consideration of the native or aboriginal historical tradition of Canada was instrumental in developing a theme dealing with the nature of totems, it was recognized that such a heritage informs research and practice regardless of national borders. The papers included in this book reflect global perspectives on the conference theme and include thinkers from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Great Britain, Israel, Slovenia, Turkey, and the United States. In addition the writings of seasoned academics and well published authors, the totems of the field so to speak are situated alongside papers from academic newcomers who have broken the taboo of not speaking in the presence of more experienced company.
The central metaphor of this book is the high wire or tightrope journey across Niagara Falls upon which we oscillate between the falsely dichotomous notions of research and teaching. The tension in leaning towards one side or the other is presented as a negotiated process of balancing research and teaching which maintains our progress forward in the field. Overlooking this edgy relationship will cause one to lean too much in one direction and fall into the chasm underneath. Thus the sections of this book are designed to examine educational progress across this high wire while maintaining awareness of the risks taken on this journey. Each paper is relevant to particular phases in this high wire walk and portrays the journeys of the authors within in order to inform the path of others.