When Schwandt (2005, p. 313) notes that '[i]n many universities today we wrestle with how to frame teaching, learning and inquiry in the professional practice fields,' he speaks to the heart of our concern in this chapter. He is referring to the general range of professional practice, 'those organized human endeavours such as teaching, business management, public planning and administration, social work, counselling, nursing, allied health-related endeavours, and so on', and it is these with which we, too, are broadly concerned here. How do we, as academic researchers, whose own professional practice consists of researching and teaching in, about, and for a particular profession rather than practising the profession itself, 'keep ourselves honest' in the sense of maintaining our connections with the discourse community with whom we identify? How do we keep our feel for the everyday effects of the changing weather patterns in the prevailing policy and social climates in which the profession practices, and how do we maintain our authority to speak within, about, and for it? One of the major concerns of academics in both pre-service and continuing professional education is for the currency and relevance of their field knowledge, their distance from 'the coal face', where professional practitioners do their work each day. The degree of distance impacts on the use-value of their work as 'practical' from the standpoint of the pre-service practitioner, or 'recognisable' from the standpoint of the profession. In this chapter, we focus mainly on the profession that we both practised before we became researchers: teaching'a profession we both now research (and prepare others to enter) from standpoints that are different from, and 'other' than, those we held as practising school-teachers. Even as teachers in our own classrooms, our standpoints were different'male and female; one working from necessity, to support a family and the othworking as an optional extra, to 'do good'; one in a small rural high school and the other in a large city college; one with advanced discipline specialist training and the other less well qualified. These 'particulars' are important. They coloured and produced our professional practice in different ways, and positioned us as more or less able to know and speak with confidence in our generalised knowledge about our profession and its practice. Our focus on teachers and teaching here, therefore, allows us to speak of what we know best. Although we illustrate and expand our claims with reference to other professional practice fields, we invite more knowledgeable and expert readers to 'read in' their own examples and illustrations, drawing from their own experience and knowledge. The teaching profession is also a useful focus for our discussion because, in the Australian context, as well as elsewhere around the world, there has been a steady professional dissatisfaction with the nature of (pre-service) professional education, and this has persisted over several decades now (Ramsey, 2000), recently culminating in a two-and-a-half year national inquiry into teacher education in Australia that highlighted several of the ways in which pre-service education could be 'improved' . There are similar debates about nurse education, of course, and continuing research into practitioner learning across all of the professions (Spouse, 2003; Wilkins, 2006; Kelly & Dimovski, 2007). When the quality of our work is brought into question in these ways, these questions become important for our own reflection and praxis.
|Title of host publication||Understanding and Researching Professional Practice|
|Place of Publication||Rotterdam|
|Number of pages||19|
|Publication status||Published - 2009|