Self-Study Through Personal History




Samaras, Anastasia P.
Hicks, Mark A.
Berger, Jennifer Garvey

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Kluwer Academic Publishers


The profession of teaching, historically, has struggled with the degree to which the personal experiences of the teacher can or should influence classroom practice. This chapter explores the benefits of including “the personal” both for the teacher and student. Personal history – the formative, contextualized experiences of our lives that influence how we think about and practice our teaching – provides a powerful mechanism for teachers wanting to discern how their lived lives impact their ability to teach or learn. In this chapter, the authors explore the historical evolution of personal history self-study, the misconceptions that often limit its potential, and the multiple ways in which it can promote deeper learning. Specifically, this form of self-study can be used to: know and better understand one’s professional identity, model and test forms of reflection, and finally, push the boundaries of what we know by creating alternative interpretations of reality. The benefits of this method are further illustrated through a case study of the lived experiences of a teacher educator surfacing her own struggle to unpack how her identity impacts her teaching and her quest for modeling self-study as she reshapes a preservice teacher education program.



Self-study, Teaching, Personal history