Does Collaboration Matter? A Paradigm for Practical Educational Research
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What is the virtue in collaboration among practitioners in practical educational research? And if collaboration as elaborated here matters enough for us to care, how will our lives as practitioner-researchers be different? This thesis argues that collaborative research is more than a way of distributing the research burden; it forms a paradigm of practice which requires new modes of conduct andthinking. I illustratethetransformation of my practice from a collaborative methodology to a collaborative ethics, in which changes in status and relationships between participants implied new forms and sources of knowledge. The context of the thesis is a police training college where I held responsibility for staff training and development. The police trainers' thinking was characterised by a means-end rationality and a coyness about public debate of their values. Their practices of both teaching and policing had taken-for-granted aims. underpinned by a faith in certain knowledge and a piecemeal, technical understanding of competence. My research became a critical praxis at the point of interaction with the training staff. I had to learn new skills, and to replace my methodological certainties with a practical and ethical complexity. My collaborative ethics sought to change trajners' relationships with their work. It engendered puzzlement about teaching and learning, and permitted new constructions of practice. An eclectic mix of critical and emancipatory action research, with an autoethnographic approach, points towards a research practice determined by a situated ethics rather than a technical methodology. I contribute to our understanding of 'collaboration' and 'positive freedom' by conceptualising them as qualities of human relationships, judged by their diversity rather than conformity to shared aims, I show how police training culture reproduces conformity, how it may be confronted, and how collaborative relationships can expand understanding of teaching and learning.
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