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Theorizing practice/practicing theorizing: inquiries in global home economics education Smith, Mary Gale


Eight home economics teachers and I took up the invitation of Coulter (1993) to explore the work of Mikhail Bakhtin as a way of making us more "wide awake" (Greene, 1978) and "answerable" (Clark & Holquist, 1984) for our teaching and researching practices. The study involved learning from our own experiences inquiring into global home economics education. We met as a group once a month, and I met periodically with each teacher, for one semester. Using action research, conceptualized as grounded ethical practice, the research methods were primarily dialogues as conversational inquiry, whereby greater emphasis was given to listening and hearing than ocularcentric methods of gathering data. The three research questions that guided the study related to learning from experience in: the substantive area, in this case developing curriculum for a global perspective in home economics; the action research process, in this case as a process to effect a specific educational change; and the self or personal growth, in this case primarily professional development (Reinharz, 1992). This research report includes narrative and reflective accounts from three forms of action research within the study: teachers cooperating with an outside researcher where the researcher defines the topic and purpose of the research; teachers collaborating with a researcher where the research is seen as mutually beneficial and the topics and purposes are jointly defined; and teachers defining and conducting their own research independently or in collaboration with one another. It captures the diversity and complexity of the teachers' and the researcher's experiences and explores some of the struggles, the tensions, and the inner turmoil associated with action research for educational change. As a result of this research, we have become more consciously intentional in our practices and more thoughtful and reflective of their consequences. The phrase theorizing practice/practicing theorizing captures this notion as the teachers and I turned/retumed to the ethical questions that hold us in education.

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