I’ve just sat in a seminar delivered by Dr Neil Hooley, a lecturer in the School of Education, Victoria University Melbourne. He has interests in narrative inquiry, participatory action research and critical inquiry learning as they apply at all levels of education. His work in teacher education is framed by the three principles of professional practice, project partnerships and praxis inquiry. The establishment of school-university-community partnerships is seen as a means of improving social life and of learning from and theorising social and educational practice. He continues to investigate curriculum and teaching strategies to enhance the learning of low income, disengaged and Indigenous students. Neil is committed to reconciliation between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples of Australia and in 2009 published Narrative Life: Democratic Curriculum and Indigenous Learning, Springer.
Pre-service teachers studying at Victoria University undergo intensive training on the ‘Praxis Inquiry Protocol’ which itself is based upon theories from Aristotle, Freire and MacIntyre. The Protocol leads to the identification of professional practice, an explanation of change which is then theorised into changed practice. Essentially, that all means that student teachers, who spend 45 hours in school, develop their professional attributes through a robust school-university partnership which is funded via the university under the auspices of a federal grant. Pre-service teachers are mentored by a qualified teacher who also help them to identify a ‘project’.
Dr Hooley is pushing the limits of Praxis Enquiry into critical analysis which allows pre-service teachers to deepen their understanding of ‘critical reflection and action’ through professional practice, mapped change (which is then contextualised and reimagined) and discourse.
The fundamental ideology of praxis is that it forms ethically informed practice for the public good. I am particularly interested in the application of such a model – whether it truly works as a tool (for the want of a better word) to make transformational change to ‘chalkface’ learning and teaching pedagogy or taking it further into the realm of curriculum reform and systemic change to the structure of schools and the professional practice of teachers born through such a structure.
It appears to offer a framework to support action research and may require further investigation at some point in the future.