Teaching as a research-engaged profession

Tony McAleavy

This is the first in a series of three reports that collectively provide a commentary on research awareness and research use within schools in England

Increasingly, teachers and schools are becoming aware of the possibilities that becoming research-aware can bring. There is a small but powerful movement within the profession – in the UK and abroad – that has begun to integrate the fruits of research and the skills of the research practitioner into their own practice. But this transition from research consumer to research participant hasn’t been without challenges. The quality of some wings of education research can sometimes be suboptimal, or poorly disguised rhetoric, leaving the educator with considerable confusion about which research is valuable and which a waste of time to pursue, or worse. The ecosystem of educational research is often more akin to a jungle than a laboratory, replete with predators in the form of vested interests and those with commercial and political agendas.

Tony McAleavy’s report confronts these challenges head on. Better still, he provides an invaluable roadmap for anyone embarking on a journey towards being more research informed, the better to negotiate the difficulties. Many people ask me if it really is necessary for educators to be engaged in any way with research – after all, why should they? The short answer is that the world which we now inhabit is propelled by research, and teachers, however much they may dispute it, are as much a part of this as anyone else. Their assumptions and ideology will be informed by the research of others, even if they aren’t aware of it. In such an environment, the only sane response is for the teaching profession to become as immune as possible to poor research, and ask as many intelligent questions as possible from those who would seek to benefit from their ignorance. And to become an articulate, informed and research-literate part of the ecosystem. For the benefit of all.

Other reports in series:

The school Research Lead

Research Leads: current practice, future prospects