Understanding teachers' stories

Wai Shing LI, Ping Kwan FOK, Tak Shing John LAM, Wai Ming YU

Research output: Contribution to conferencePapers


Teachers' stories have only recently been recognized as an important source of research (Schubert, 1989, 1990, 1991). They provide insights of teachers' lives and experiences (Bruner, 1986; Connelly and Clandinin, 1990). An analysis of a collection of teachers' stories enhances our understanding of what it means to be a teacher and what is valued by teachers (Ely, 1990). Also, if it is through recounting that teachers evaluate and learn from their experience (Schon, 1987), narratives reveal the story tellers' beliefs and model of teaching (Chafe, 1990). The present small scale research is an exploratory effort to investigate what kinds of stories are most likely to be elicited by student teachers of technical subjects, and what are the major themes emerged from the story-telling research. Answer of these two questions would inform both teachers and teacher educators about meanings of teaching. With these purposes in minds, student teachers are asked to tell their own stories of memorable experiences. Transcriptions of the narratives are interpreted and analyzed by means of content analysis. It is found that teachers have a rich source of knowledge about their professional practice and education. Telling and sharing stories are good ways to make teachers tacit knowledge (Polanyi, 1957) explicit and indicate the links between personal experience and professional development. The biographical perspective shown by these stories provides insights for professional training.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1997


Li, W. S., Fok, P. K., Lam, T. S., & Yu, W. M. (1997, November). Understanding teachers' stories. Paper presented at the Hong Kong Educational Research Association (HKERA) 14th Annual Conference: Compulsory Education and Beyond, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, China.


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