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Doing Critical Educational Research

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John Smyth's remarkable body of writing, research and scholarship has spanned four decades, and the urgency of our times makes it imperative to look in some depth at the breadth of his research and its trajectory, in order to see how we can connect, extend, build and enrich our understandings from it. Possibly the single most unique aspect to Smyth's version of critical research is his passion for living and 'doing' what it means to be a critical pedagogue. For him, 'doing' is a verb that gives expression to what he believes it means to be a critical scholar. This necessitates actively listening to lives; taking on an advocacy position with informant groups; displaying a commitment to praxis; and being activist in celebrating 'local responses' to global issues. Smyth's research is pursued with vigour through the lives he researches, as he interrupts and punctures 'bad' theory, supplanting it with more democratic alternatives, which, by his own admission, makes his research (and all research), political.
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Table of Contents

Contents: Opening up his `Intellectual Craftsmanship' - Teachers' Work - Students' Lives - Community Engagement - Educational Policy and Leadership - Synthesis of Future Directions for Action.

About the Author

John Smyth is Research Professor of Education, Faculty of Education & Arts, Federation University Australia, Ballarat, Victoria, Australia. He is the inter-disciplinary Research Theme Leader for Addressing Disadvantage and Inequality in Education and Health. His research interests are in policy sociology, policy ethnography, social justice and sociology of education. Barry Down is the City of Rockingham Chair in Education at Murdoch University, Perth, Western Australia. His research focuses on young people's lives in the context of shifts in the global economy, employment, poverty and disengagement. Peter McInerney is Honorary Senior Research Fellow, Faculty of Education & Arts, Federation University Australia, Ballarat, Victoria, Australia. His research interests are forms of school reform that promote social justice. Robert Hattam is Associate Professor and Associate Head of School (Research), School of Education, University of South Australia. His research interests are in socially critical research, sociology of education, and social justice.


"In these dark times we need educational researchers to switch the light on. John Smyth and colleagues Barry Down, Peter McInerney and Rob Hattam have done that by invoking a challenging conversation. They share the doing of research, and this requires exchange, puzzles, and importantly a socially critical analysis of research as a practice. Importantly they have not only illuminated the vitality and practicality of doing democratic research, but they have done it for and with teachers, students and communities. If policymakers supported and acted on the practical intellectual work in the ideas, projects and methodologies outlined here then we might not only have an education system that enables children to succeed but also to experience humane teaching and learning. The contemporary historical focus on Smyth's contribution shows that research for and about equity is enduring, and while there are people who would like to pull the switch, the intellect and commitment shines." (Professor Helen Gunter, The University of Manchester) "While it is easy to find writing about critical research epistemology and methodology, it is harder to find good examples of critical studies. John Smyth is one of the exceptions. In this book, he and his colleagues eloquently share the accumulated wisdom of a career dedicated to doing critical research." (Professor Gary L. Anderson, New York University) "What a treasure trove of insights into critical democratic research are offered to readers within this rich and lively text. Through the authors' thoughtful reflection and dialogue based on actual educational research projects, they refuse to shy away from difficult - necessarily political - and sometimes messy social justice issues. I believe that engaging deeply with the important ideas and work of John Smyth in this volume will provide educational researchers with a renewed sense of urgency and relevance to their own critical projects." (Professor Darren E. Lund, University of Calgary)

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