Reading too little, reading too much


I confess that reading around the key topics and themes in my thesis can be both rewarding and disabling. The literature around professional teacher identity and professional learning has revealed a wealth of ideas and issues pertaining to the profession and the delicate, often strained existence between the personal and professional self that is constantly being contested and changed.

I have read the core literature. And I should stop. I am looking out for new additions to my reading list, new ways researchers have framed ideas and explored the professional identity notion. But I have found dipping into a few key works and taking the time to read some books published as opposed to the odd journal article has brought some reward.

Parker (2007) The Courage to Teach: Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher’s Life is a tenth anniversary edition of a classic text. The landscape of the inner and outer life of the teacher, marked significantly by Parker’s own reflections has made this text an important one. I think I found some relief reading a colleague’s journey into the rich and complex domain of a teacher’s life. Parker gives merit to this notion of needing to ‘know thyself.’ A combination of intellectual, emotional and spiritual pathways is explored as the best way to know and understand the teacher. This idea confirms my need for connection and collaboration; for reflection, feedback and evaluation; for a vocation beyond myself.

Similarly,  Day and Gu (2010) The New Lives of Teachers build a compelling thesis around the professional identity of teachers and the influences of the personal, emotional, organizational and intellectual. The context in which we teach is incredibly powerful and how we negotiate the ‘personal’ has a direct impact on teacher commitment and sustainability.

So I am reading to confirm ideas I have already formed around teacher identity. And I am reading to challenge and direct my writing as I start to pull together a clear proposal for my  project. As a researcher and educator I am committed to life long learning, I want to teach encourage and motivate. The question is how do I support my peers in doing this? How can what I ‘produce’ through my research be relevant as a professional learning tool for women who are leaders in education?

Reading too little or too much unearths many of these questions.


4 thoughts on “Reading too little, reading too much

  1. The biggest hurdle is that clarity of thinking can be so easily clouded by information overload so that our professional and personal challenges become intertwined to the point that we lose focus in all aspects of our lives. The way society has moved with such easy access to information relating to what is new, and our need to do it NOW actually means that we achieve less than we should. I think the slow cooking movement might actually have merit-worthy concepts that should be adopted by academics and teachers. Just as the people we bother to get to know well mean more to us than fleeting contacts, information delved into more deeply (or slowly) may prove to be our “best friend” when it comes to understanding principles and designing learning for peers and students.
    Deep mastery of a couple of texts in the most recent subject I have undertaken, rather than trying to read every single item on the modules has led to much better results as well as deeper understanding.

    • Slow cooking ideas is a great concept. I once heard someone say that we should read fast and slow. Sometimes we need to read great chunks of text and read it fast to get the big picture and main ideas. And at other times we need the slow, deliberate, thorough reading that is meditative and impacts us at a deeper level.
      I do see the peril of having access to too much information too quickly. Oh bring back the days of walking in dark, dank library basements to retrieve a journal article!

  2. I try to remind myself that I don’t have to build a ship in a bottle. The major players need to be there but not everyone will get the same level of attention when I’m writing. And that’s okay.

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