South African Journal of Education

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The significance of ‘I' in educational research and the responsibility of intellectuals

J McNiff


In this paper I call for an unequivocal legitimisation of the living ‘I' in educational
research. The paper itself becomes a context that explains this call. It is a report of my action research into my professional learning through working in South Africa, within the context of new policy frameworks for continuing teacher development. The call embeds issues about the need for higher education practitioners to produce their explanatory accounts of practice as they support teachers' enquiries for improving practice and knowledge creation, and to legitimise a free academic press for the dissemination of those accounts. The accounts need to demonstrate epistemological, methodological and scholarly
validity, to strengthen practitioners' attempts to influence policy debates about continuing professional development. By clarifying the processes of establishing quality, it becomes possible to show the links between continuing professional education and the active contributions of practitioners to economic and social wellbeing.

Keywords: academic freedom; epistemological accountability; living educational
theories; practitioner enquiry; professional learning in higher education

South African Journal of Education Vol. 28 (3) 2008: pp. 351-364

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