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John Nisbet Award Winner

Ivor Goodson, Professor

Professor of Learning Theory at University of Brighton

Ivor Goodson is professor of Learning Theory at the University of Brighton. He has worked in universities in England, Canada and the USA, and held visiting positions in many countries.

Early in his career his PhD explored the construction of school subject knowledge and its relationship to social processes. This led to his first book School Subjects and Curriculum Change, which is now in its 3rd edition. Following that book, which was published in 1983, he produced a series of books which aim to explore the curriculum as a site of social contestation and social distribution. The series Studies in Curriculum History was commissioned by Falmer Press in 1984 and led to the publication of over 20 books which established the history and sociology of curriculum construction, not just in the United Kingdom but around the world. His own contributions to the series includes the books Defining the CurriculumThe Making of CurriculumStudying School Subjects and Subject Knowledge. Alongside his work on curriculum he began to develop a range of qualitative methodologies focussing on life history approaches. The first book, Biography, Identity and Schooling, sought to explain how life history methods could connect our understanding of personal motives and missions to wider social movements and processes. In particular his work explored the relationship between teacher’s life purposes and their work. The pioneering book Teachers’ Lives and Careers published in 1985 and co-edited with Stephen Ball opened up a new field of study focussing on the teachers life and work. This was followed by Studying Teachers Lives published in 1992 which took further the focus on teachers’ lives and explored both the methodologies and the substantive findings emerging in this field. One of his recent books, Professional Knowledge, Professional Lives looks at how understanding the teachers life and work provides new insights into why reform initiatives succeed or fail. This book is the result of a large 4-year Spencer Foundation project on stability and change in schooling focussing on the United States of America and Canada. Most recently Ivor has been involved in large research projects on people’s life histories. ‘The Learning Lives’ project funded by the Economic and Social Research Council studied people’s learning experiences across the life course and led to the book Narrative Learning. The theoretical insights generated by this and the ‘Professional Knowledge’ project funded by the European Union led to the book Developing Narrative Theory. Many of his books are available in translation and have been published in Japan, China, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina, Ireland, Portugal and Spain. Currently, his collective works are being translated into Spanish, Chinese and Japanese. Ivor was given: the Michael Huberman award at the American Educational Research Association for his work on teachers’ lives, an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Gothenburg and Laureate of the American Leaned Society Phi Delta Kappan Society in the USA. In 2016 Ivor was nominated for inclusion in the forthcoming volume 2000 Outstanding Intellectuals of the 21st Century 10th Edition Publication.

Ivor Goodson's contributions

BERA John Nisbet Fellowship

Since 2014 BERA has awarded the John Nisbet Fellowship to one or more people who are deemed to have made an outstanding contribution to educational research over their career. Named in honour of...

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