Theses Doctoral

Reflective Teacher Narratives: The Merging of Practical Wisdom, Narrative, and Teaching

Furman, Cara

Responding to current concerns about the quality of public education, in this dissertation I look at teacher development. Specifically, I take up the question: how do we promote teacher flourishing? Though the "we" refers to anyone with a vested interest in education, my primary audience is teachers, administrators, and teacher educators. From this lens I investigate questions of how the teaching life can connect the teacher to the good life. I address this from two perspectives. More broadly, I ask: How can we support the teacher in a manner that contributes to his or her achievement of the good life? Focusing on more specific practices: How can we support the teacher to achieve success in the role of teacher? I assert that teaching is complex work that requires a professional who knows the content taught, has a deep understanding of individual students, and utilizes a host of methods for conveying information and creating community within a classroom. I will argue that the successful teacher depends on what has been defined as practical wisdom--knowing what knowledge to apply to a given situation and how best to apply it.
Having argued the relevance of practical wisdom in teaching, the remaining chapters will look more closely at how those concerned with teacher education might help teachers develop it. Specifically, I will first explore:
* How can practical wisdom be cultivated in teachers? (Chapter 2)
* How does narrative promote practical wisdom? (Chapter 3)
* How do narratives about teaching referred to as Reflective Teacher Narratives in particular promote practical wisdom? (Chapter 4)
Reflective Teacher Narratives are first person narratives written by teachers about their classrooms. The texts focus on individual students, follow a plot, and highlight the teacher's strengths and areas of difficulty. Ultimately, I will conclude that reading Reflective Teacher Narratives support teacher flourishing by providing a means of looking closely at both teachers' practices and thinking. Reflective Teacher Narratives also provide the scaffolding for a means of talking with teachers that supports development and affirms the teacher.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Philosophy and Education
Thesis Advisors
Hansen, David
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
July 7, 2014