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The teacher them self

In considering my role as a teacher and now a teachereducator I have become increasingly interested in self-study. This approach to understandingour practices suggest that in examining ‘self’ the practitioner begins toconsider how their learning and understanding has the potential to further theunderstanding of their peers. In other words it moves beyond the idea of reflectionand looks instead at reflective practice as a means through which theory is notonly explored but is also challenged and developed.  

My PhD was a self study of my attempts to change theposition I occupied in the classroom but more recently I come to view thischange, not as one that impacted only on my teaching but as one that altered myvery awareness of what learning means. Previously I had seen myself as theteacher, as the imparter of knowledge and consequently had seen my students asthe receivers of this knowledge. In my exploration of the self-study literatureI found a chapter of a yearbook written in 1957 where the author considered theplace of ‘the researcher himself’ in the research process. In scientificwriting many pieces are ‘authorless’ and the writer consciously and deliberatelywrites themselves and their opinions out of the piece. I wonder now if, as ayoung teacher, I did the same with regards to my learning in (and for) mylessons.

Let me explain. My teaching of Javelin has been a ‘place’that I have returned to again and again in my reflections because itpersonifies the limit of both my knowledge and my practice with regards toteaching this topic. I removed the need for me to learn more about the topic ofmy lesson and instead found a fixed body of ‘knowledge’ that I felt I needed toimpart to the students – regardless of their age and prior experience. Now I amnot alone in this means of teaching, as I have seen and heard many anecdotesabout Javelin and athletics since, but I was alone in my lesson as I was theonly person not required to learn as a consequence of my teaching. I repeatedlywonder if I did not do my students a disservice by focusing on the knowledgethat they needed rather than also positioning me as a learner. I feel that I nowneed to account for me ‘myself’ and should therefore have therefore striven to continuallyrefine and enhance my knowledge and understanding - not only of javelin butalso of pedagogy.

I feel, in preparing to teach and in teaching, that I now tryto be a learner. I believe that I am increasing happy to consider myself whenconsidering the needs of my students. As teachers we need to work hard to repositionourselves not only as skilled and passionate practitioners but also as lifelonglearners who strive to learn – in the words of Mahatma Gandhi – like they’lllive forever.  I want to be a commarather than a full stop (cf. Coldplay) when it comes to my engagement inlifelong learning and feel that this is better way of helping my studentsengage with their learning. However, I am a work very much in progress but I amlearning...

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