Researcher or teacher?

Dear blog,

Sorry I haven’t written much recently, I’ve been busy getting married.

Around this time last year I had a piece in Modern English Teacher. About six months later Simon Andrewes wrote a critical response to my piece (I don’t think it’s online though you can see another of his articles here.) I’m pleased to announce that my response to his response is out in MET today. I’ll probably put it up on the site later this year but this is just a short post with a couple of points.
First is a big thank you to Dave Francis who published the original article and the follow up. I don’t know if I would have continued with this blog if it hadn’t been for him. He recently told me he’s resigning as the editor of MET and that October 2013 was his final issue. Thanks for all your hard work Dave!
Second is a quick point relating to the article. One of the themes is whether it’s true in education that ‘researchers are researchers and teachers are teachers and never the twain will meet.’ It’s an issue I touched on earlier in the year.
Anyway, I’m currently writing a piece on student feedback for BALEAP in Oxford Brookes this year and during the research I came across this rather interesting paper. The authors attempted to find out if being a good researcher was in any way linked to being a good teacher. What’s interesting is that they come at the research from a different angle, -namely, they were trying to discover if the myth of “good researcher = good teacher”. I personally didn’t know this a myth and always tended to hear the opposite in TEFL circles (including Andrewes article) namely researchers are clueless about teaching.
As it turns out the researchers managed to find no relationship between being a good teacher and being a good researcher. some excellent teachers sucked at research and some poor researchers were also poor teachers and vice-versa. This result really shouldn’t surprise us. A thoughtful and intelligent teacher can make a thoughtful and intelligent researcher or they may just be awful.
Some musicians can also write songs, -some can’t and some folks can neither play an instrument nor write songs. Surely no one would be surprised by this so why does the odd myth of the teachers and researchers being different species persist?

7 thoughts on “Researcher or teacher?

  1. I've just read – with great interest – your article in MET and wanted to tweet about it but couldn't find you on Twitter (whatever happened to @EBEFL ?). I haven't seen your original piece but will look it up. I agree with most of what you say – though I do believe in star signs 🙂 I don't know if you've heard Penny Ur's talk on practice and research in TEFL (you can see the recording here or look up her article in the Guardian Education). She sort of offers the middle ground between your and Simon Andrewes's position in that she acknowledges usefulness of TEFL research but also gives reasons why teachers may be reluctant to read it. P.S. It's a shame Dave is leaving. Must write to him to say goodbye.


  2. Hey Leo! How's it going mate? I've missed you. Thanks for the link to Penny Ur, I seem to remember you writing about her guardian piece before. I should be back on Twitter in the near(ish) future. I've got a big project lined up which I can't really talk about yet. Take care mate!


  3. Hi MayneCongratulations on getting married and I trust the new status suits you! I would also like to express my gratitude to Dave Francis for his editorship of MET. Whoever he new editor is I will be bothering them with my reply to your reply: the importance of research – something I do not deny, by the way.Here, I'd like to make just a couple of points if I may. The first is that the lamentable gulf between theory and practice is something I claim to observe; it is not something I would willingly \”further reinforce\” as I think you put it. Secondly, experience is not enough! As a teacher I acknowledge I am hemmed in my the narrow confines of the classroom walls, and there is a vast world out there. Rather than the value of experience, per se, I would argue in defense of \”reflective practice\”. Another thing is that my viewpoint has theoretical backing in the work of Kumaravidelu and his idea of the \”unique classroom\”, which makes it practically impossible for teaching theory to apply to all cases. And finally, Leo draws our attention to Penny Ur's point-of-view, which draws on her experience, understanding and sensitivity vis a vis the practice of English teaching. No, no, this is finally:- my ETP \”Teachers Against Methodology\” piece come down in favour of an ideal teacher-researcher, and is not against research but against its regrettable divorce from classroom reality.Well, I'm sure that's not the end of the story.


  4. Hi Simon,thanks for posting a comment. I disagree with Kumaravidelu relativist notions about the \”unique classroom\”. I think, as with all relativism, it's in serious danger of collapsing in on itself. I would go into more detail but I'm hoping to post a blog article about this topic very soon. I really look forward to reading your reply. Please let me know if I can post your 1st response on this site. Regards, Russ


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