Wenger-Trayner says that this story of special social places needs to be told. Learning Communities in Educational Partnerships tells how theory and practice come into lived interplay in social spaces where theory informs practice and practice turns into theory. It is an accessible guide which encourages students and practitioners working within communities, including school-college/university partnerships, to develop a critical and questioning disposition and be open to the idea of engaging with the research process, so that they may have the potential to become influential in many educational settings. The authors begin by drawing on their own experiences of becoming a learning community as they studied for their PhDs. They introduce the ideas underpinning self-study action research. This is a form of action research that, they argue, is supportive of transformation and acknowledges the idea that practitioners are capable of making their own judgements. Through a series of first hand practitioner accounts, the chapters go on to describe and explain how to engage in processes of inquiry and establish learning communities, how to make space for professional conversations and how to develop living theories (Whitehead 1989) from within daily practice. The practical examples used are from the authors' own experiences in learning communities, and focus on the immediate educational concerns of teachers with the aim of improving practice and developing educational theory. Chapter introductions and reflective questions will help to support students and guide readers in developing their own learning communities within educational partnerships. Learning Communities in Educational Partnerships helps to show how meaningful change can take place, both in educational improvements and also in more transformative professional learning, when educators are encouraged to draw on their own personal educational values and share their ideas in a learning community
This is the most significant contribution to the enhancement of a global professionalism in education that I have read in my 50 year's engagement with this issue. It should become required reading and study for initial and continuing teacher education programs. Mairin Glenn, Bernie Sullivan, Mary Roche and Caitriona McDonagh show how four individuals, initially strangers, studying four disparate aspects of education, have forged a strong, warm and loving friendship. Their work and research together enhances their own and others' professionalism in improving practice and contributing to the educational knowledge-base. They do this through self-study action research and the generation of living-educational-theories that are underpinned by ontological values of social justice, inclusion and democracy; epistemological values of dialogue, communication and knowledge creation; and educational values of co-operation and collaboration. The book clearly communicates how to foster a 'researcherly disposition' across all phases of education. This includes the generating and sustaining of whole-school learning communities. As well as focusing on improving educational practice and generating contributions to educational knowledge, the authors critically engage with insights from the most advanced social theories, without losing a connection to improving professionalism in practice. The authors invite readers, having reflected on their book, to reveal their passions and enthusiasms for learning together, for their own benefit and the benefit of those with whom they work. They invite us to continue this narrative by sharing our stories on www.eari.ie . I hope to meet you in this space of learning community.
Jack Whitehead, Visiting Professor of Education, University of Cumbria, UK||This book speaks to the very heart of what it is to be a professional learner. It challenges readers to rethink how we individually and institutionally engage with our own learning, with the learning of those we teach and of all those with whom we connect throughout our educative journey. Because this book transcends the superficial and engages with communities of learners from a lived, meaningful and values based perspective, it offers not the typical prescriptive text, but one that is far more significant with real potential to open up the hearts and minds of learners and teachers across the globe. It offers an important differing voice to current trends in education that tend to eclipse the value of practitioner knowledge and experience. In so doing it gives voice to the growing movement of practitioners whose experience and insight are indispensable for meaningful education theory worldwide.
Patricia Mannix McNamara, Deputy Head, School of Education, University of Limerick, Ireland