MA Article Notes
Halliday, J. (2002) ‘Researching Values in Education’ British Educational Research Journal. Vol. 28, No. 1, 2002
I found this article hard going. Read it over a period of time (holidays) and had to work hard to follow its arguments. Ultimately I have written this with close reference to the conclusion where Halliday generously summarises his method. I have also included definitions from wikipedia for terms I am unfamiliar with and the links to their source pages. My text/thoughts are in bold to distinguish them from Halliday’s, because I found it difficult to re-write what he is saying.
For us doing the masters, I think the reason we are reading this is to introduce us to the importance of the impact of our methodology on our research projects. I don’t find that Halliday gives us any answers here. He drags the whole debate into question by saying that we (researchers and educational institutions in general) do not have the means at our disposal to test the conclusions of others research, and, there is a tendency for research to compete to assert correct practice. In this, I think, he is saying that we must explore whatever research has been done into our chosen research area and, if at all possible, to build on that rather than branch off and do our research for it’s own self-serving sake in a maverick-style context. Instead of seeing other research as competition, we are to acknowledge and embrace in the interests of furthering the value position in a particular field. Therefore, our research will become part of the wider fabric of research into that area.
John Halliday, University of Strathclyde
Examines recent interest in the relationship between values and educational research using philosophical and political background.
Values of researcher (the practitioner doing the research).
Values of researched (the subject or topic).
- ‘a tendency to misrepresent values for the sake of social desirability’ (Halliday, 2002:60)
- ‘tendentiousness and bias seem unavoidable
- there are problems with research because of the:
- interpretation and privileging of meanings
- status of rational reconstructions
- cumulative development of research programmes
- taking into account the process of the research is essential to communicate values of researcher or researched.
- give the context the research was conducted in.
- not enough attention is given to this.
- In fact, it is intentionally avoided to keep the research away from the personal – the people who did it.
- So when someone sets about a bit of research they have an intention to further the value position in that particular field, and they naturally want to avoid bias which might compromise the integrity of the research, but this in itself is a mistake because all research is intrinsically mixed up with it’s executors and this should in some way be accepted and faced head on.
- I really like this bit – Halliday is trying to improve the language researchers to discuss values in ways that ‘avoid priggishness, tendentiousness or sanctimony’. (Halliday, 2002:60). He uses a metaphor about sitting on, or being on either side of the fence, to demonstrate that we need to be able to talk about this without aligning ourselves to one position. This strikes me as a sensible approach that aims to avoid getting bogged down in declaring yourself, or somebody else declaring you via critique, aligned to one philosophical approach (methodological stance) or another, or flawed because of the values you held at the point of research. Instead we are looking to incorporate values as an accepted part of the research and find a way of discussing these so they do not undermine the findings.
Halliday introduces hermeneutics:
Exert: Hermeneutics (English pronunciation: /hɜrməˈnjuːtɨks/) is the study of interpretation theory, and can be either the art of interpretation, or the theory and practice of interpretation. Traditional hermeneutics — which includes Biblical hermeneutics — refers to the study of the interpretation of written texts, especially texts in the areas of literature, religion and law. Contemporary, or modern, hermeneutics encompasses not only issues involving the written text, but everything in the interpretative process. This includes verbal and nonverbal forms of communication as well as prior aspects that affect communication, such as presuppositions, pre-understandings, the meaning and philosophy of language, andsemiotics. Philosophical hermeneutics refers primarily to Hans-Georg Gadamer‘s theory of knowledge as developed in Truth and Method, and sometimes to Paul Ricoeur. A hermeneutic (singular) refers to one particular method or strand of interpretation. (accessed on-line: 10/01/10)
Hermeneutics are used to further the discussion, ‘to see research as just one means of risking and testing what Gadamer calls ‘prejudice” (Halliday, 2002:60).
‘In good research, productive understanding of difference is achieved. Achievement of agreement on general values is uninteresting, however desirable those values might seem to be.’ Halliday, 2002:60.
‘philosophy and empirical research are continuous activities in the search for solutions to problems of different kinds. …[A] number of research programmes that have, at their core, different priorities about which educational problems should be tackled and in what order and with what priority.’ Halliday, 2002:60.
‘It was argued that difference and stability are essential for epistemology and axiology.’ Halliday, 2002:60.
Extract: Epistemology (from Greek ἐπιστήμη – episteme-, “knowledge, science” + λόγος, “logos“) or theory of knowledge is the branch of philosophy concerned with the nature and scope (limitations) ofknowledge. It addresses the questions:
- What is knowledge?
- How is knowledge acquired?
- What do people know?
- How do we know what we know?
Much of the debate in this field has focused on analyzing the nature of knowledge and how it relates to similar notions such as truth, belief, and justification. It also deals with the means of production of knowledge, as well as skepticism about different knowledge claims.
Extract: Axiology (from Greek ἀξίᾱ, axiā, “value, worth”; and -λογία, -logia) is the study of quality or value. It is often taken to include ethics and aesthetics — philosophical fields that depend crucially on notions of value — and sometimes it is held to lay the groundwork for these fields, and thus to be similar to value theory and meta-ethics. The term was first used in the early 20th century by Paul Lapie, in 1902, and E. von Hartmann, in 1908.
One area in which research continues to be pursued is so-called formal axiology, or the attempt to lay out principles regarding value with mathematical rigour.
There is an idea that educational research is not good enough as a field of study because it fails to build on previous research. Halliday states the solutions are not to build bigger research programmes based around, say, assessment. Or to declare a ‘methodological stance’. Instead, he argues for ‘communicating the fundamental assumptions of the research programmes or moral tradition of which the research might form a part.’ Halliday, 2002:60 But this communication is not direct, moreover it is done intentionally or unintentionally by the researchers or researched through accounts of practical interests. Halliday concludes by saying that educational research programmes tend to compete with one another and that ‘there may be more appropriate vocabularies than at present with which to accept the contextuality and limitations of educational research without giving up on the idea that such research can be systematic and cumulative.’ Halliday 2002:61.
I think he is saying that our research must be carried out in the context of other research into that particular field (‘the formulation and testing of these solutions would require much more diversity than there is at present within and between educational institutions … so that teachers … could become genuine participants in what would amount to competing programmes for practice’ p61). He talks about the ‘hard core’ of educational research and seems to believe that there is a need to find better language for discussion but that the research programmes that have gone on already are okay – just undermined by political and philosophical hair-splitting. Are they undermining themselves because they are competitive? Do all educational research programmes need to work with each other by building on the research that has gone before them?
Conclusion at beginning.