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Living theory approach

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The Living-Theory approach is an approach to explaining educational influences in a person's learning.

Educational and other researchers are always faced with issues of validating their claims to knowledge. In the UK and elsewhere there is much interest in developing appropriate standards of judgement for assessing the quality of the knowledge generated by educational researchers. In 1995 Donald Schon advocated the development of a new epistemology for the new scholarship by Boyer and explained that this new epistemology would be generated from action research and would be a challenge to the epistemology of the modern research university (Boyer, 1990).

The idea that individuals can generate their own unique explanations for their educational influences in their own learning, in the learning of others and in the learning of social formations, as their living educational theory has been gaining credibility since the establishment of the Self-Study of Teacher Education Practices Special Interest Group of the American Educational Research Association in 1993 (S-STEP, 1993). A living-educational-theory emerges from the methodological inventiveness of individual practitioner researchers. We generate our explanations with the help of our living-theory methodologies. These methodologies draw on the self-study methods of a self-study methodology (Samaras, 2010).

Living-educational-theory was coined was by Jack Whitehead, when serving as a lecturer at the University of Bath, UK. It has developed and spread influentially internationally in the last 50 years. Some evidence to support this claim can be found on and Dr. William Barry, philosophy professor at Notre Dame de Namur University in Silicon Valley, California, re-conceptualized Living Educational Theory as a transpersonal and pragmatic approach to action research (Atkins & Wallace, 2012). Professor Barry pioneered Living Educational Theory as a pedagogical approach in both teacher education and philosophy in higher education []. Barry is featured in the global documentary, Future Humanity: AI, because of his unique use of LET as a way organize life experience into data to download into artificial intelligence [1]


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