What is the role of research for teachers and school?

For me as a researcher, it has been a great pleasure to collaborate with enthusiastic teachers and schools, and trying to improve teaching and learning together. On the other hand, such an approach – more or less normative, sometime even idealistic – has been shun in research because research is often regarded as neutral, objective, even free of values, and it should focus on clarifying the state of something (what, how, why) instead of guiding how the state should be. Of course there are different paradigms in which research has a more active role, but these paradigms are kind of “Others” while the true research is thought to be pure of values.

Our trialogical approach in KNORK has certainly a strong ideological emphasis. The design principles aim to direct education towards practices that enhance the development of knowledge work practices. (For the unaware reader, the design principles are the following: Organizing activities around shared “objects”; Supporting integration of personal and collective agency and work; Emphasizing development and creativity through knowledge transformations and reflection; Fostering long-term processes of knowledge advancement; Promoting cross-fertilization of knowledge practices and artifacts across communities and institutions, and Providing flexible tools for developing artifacts and practices.)

So are our studies about pedagogical practices research or not?

I had a possibility to listen prof. Anna Stetsenko in University of Helsinki while she visited Finland as an opponent for a doctoral dissertation. In her lecture which she also gave, the title was “Transformative Activist Stance: Implications for learning”, and one of her theses for science was that what if we researchers, instead of investigating “what is”, put forefront of our endeavors “what should be”. Her idea was that researchers could create the society, and world, in which we want to live and not only follow what is going on. I liked that approach a lot! For educational research it means, e.g., that we investigate what characterizes the school and education that is best for children, students and for the future, and furthermore, we investigate how can we improve or change the school and education to these aims. What you think, is it too ambitions to say that in KNORK we have an agenda towards future and we are actively working in schools and in universities to achieve that?

Liisa Ilomäki

Co-ordinator of KNORK

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