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Writing Up and Down: The Language of Educational Research

Smith, Richard

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There is a marked tendency in educational research to marginalise the written word, and to be wary of what I here call its ‘writerliness’: its capacity to go beyond the prosaic and the utilitarian, where meaning is understood largely in terms of the success of language in reflecting reality. I note various symptoms of this in the world of educational research, but especially in standard textbooks of educational research method, where the ambition to eliminate writing is particularly evident. In its second half the paper turns to educational research as the investigation less of causes than of meaning. Here writing—finding the right words—is itself research, rather than a process that is first performed according to various protocols of method and then ‘written up’. I draw on an illuminating discussion of this in Raimond Gaita's Introduction to recent editions of Peter Winch's The Idea of a Social Science and apply it to current debate over discipline in UK schools.

Journal Article Type Article
Online Publication Date Jul 2, 2020
Publication Date 2020-06
Deposit Date Jul 22, 2020
Publicly Available Date Jul 22, 2020
Journal Journal of Philosophy of Education
Print ISSN 0309-8249
Electronic ISSN 1467-9752
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 54
Issue 3
Pages 666-678
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Copyright Statement
© 2020 The Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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