(Re)inhabiting Waldorf Education - accepted for publication 141117 - published Dec 2017
I saw an earlier version of this paper and have followed its progress with great interest. This is because not only is it a fascinating account of teachers investigating their own practice as a group, with a view to improving it, but because of the Pacific indigenous aspect to the work. It is a good example of the kind of challenge I put out in a short paper to Research Intelligence in 2008 to take better account of forms of knowledge that are not encapsulated in traditional forms of representation.
Accordingly, the inclusion of photos and videos, and the drawing on writing from authors with a thorough knowledge and grounding in local contexts, makes me want to wholeheartedly recommend this paper for publication. I can see you have taken on board your discussion with Jack about living educational theory, and you are certainly overt in your description of held values. I’d like to have seen more reference to LET in the paper but do not feel inclined to withhold recommendation to publish on that basis.
To my way of thinking, there is a raw honesty on the account of teachers’ reactions to what must have been very challenging work. They recognized, variously, feeling “rogue against the traditions” and feeling that by following the established paths they “didn’t have to think” and these admissions ring with honesty in my mind.
At one point, almost as a throw-away comment, you mention that Waldorf schools are self-governing and that administration and governance takes a larger part of teachers’ time than perhaps they would wish. I do wonder, if you should do a further iteration, if you would be wise to expand on this a bit, as it is so foreign to the usual hierarchical, sometimes dictatorial ways in which most other schools of my acquaintance work. I did find myself wondering if the introduction of Neil as an “outsider” to the group, albeit one with a very solid background in Steiner Education, might have caused problems, but then reflected that the self-governing aspect may have meant that he was invited by the group (or that his invitation was affirmed by the group) rather than being someone imposed by a principal as a speaker/facilitator who would be “good for you” rather than invited by the group itself. Just a thought.
Usually, when I review papers for EJOLTS, I put track changes on and work through the document. The fact that I haven’t done this in your case is a tribute to the very high standard of proofreading you have exercised, and which meant that this pedant didn’t feel the need to follow her usual procedure!
Obviously, you will need to wait for your other reviewers but my reaction is ka pai, tumeke, let’s see it in print soon! (Neil may need to translate those words, grin).
Dear Jocelyn and Neil,
In your paper you have given a comprehensive account of the research you have undertaken. You have each outlined the background to your research, and you have provided a narrative of your coming together and of how the points of intersection of your common interests formed the basis for undertaking the research. You have articulated your values and indicated that these will be used as the standards of judgement in evaluating the research. The detailed description of the main tenets of the Waldorf Steiner approach to education includes a critique of some aspects that you felt needed improvement.
My impression of the paper is that, while it fits the descriptor of action research, it does not meet all the requirements of living theory research. I had a sense that you were positioned outside the research, observing the other teachers who were participating in the audits, and so the investment of self, which I feel is paramount in living theory research, was not in evidence. It seemed to me that you were engaging in second and third, rather than first, person research. This could have been the result of focusing on Steiner’s description of action research, which you quoted as follows, ‘We will practice teaching and critique it through discourse’. Your paper certainly measures up to this description and is a good example of a cooperative and collaborative research approach.
I also had a feeling that the research was unfinished, that it never got to the end point where I could see the improvement in your practice, in your understanding of your practice or in your thinking. What I feel could move the paper more in the direction of living theory would be for you to state explicitly your learning from undertaking the research, your specific influence in the learning of the other teachers or other Steiner schools and the living educational theory that you have developed through carrying out your research. These themes may be present at an implicit level, and so just need to be more evident to the reader.
I hope these comments are helpful and look forward to seeing how you include your selves more emphatically in the paper.
Bernie, thank you for your comments. It has been a kind of back and forth process to work with various readers on just what LET is and how it is expressed, yet it has been a good process for Neil and I to keep working on. Your comments regarding first vs third person are useful to me, as are continuing to make everything explicit.
Neil and I are both out of town this week and will resume our work with your helpful comments soon.
Pip, thank you so much for your response to our article. You are correct in regards to using Neil to follow up on our curriculum during our audit--faculty wanted to continue working with him! In combination with the comments from our other reviewers we will look at how we might more overtly discuss LET. When Neil and I get back from our travels next week, we will resume our work!