What Sustains a Fulfilling Life in Education?

Jonathan M. Barnes


Resilience is essential to the good teacher. This paper summarises research on factors that have sustained one life in education and compares them with narratives from nine other long-serving and fulfilled teachers. It identifies some elements that build teacher resilience and discusses how this knowledge might apply to teacher education and the school experience of children. An original method of auto-ethnography is used to discover sources of the personal values, attitudes, experiences and passions that contribute to resilience. An interpretivist paradigm and multiple perspectives are argued as necessary to discover what builds, preserves and strengthens the ability to withstand the multiple and continuous challenges of the teaching life.

The literature review re-analysis writings that directly influenced a single life. Other auto-ethnographic sources include six contrasting personal autobiographies, diaries, letters and transcribed biographical conversations with nine close friends in teaching. The research suggests that teacher resilience is associated with (a) a work-life closely aligned to personal values, (b) plentiful opportunities to develop friendships, and (c) frequent chances to use lifelong interests in creative contexts.

The process of research changed the researcher’s practice in education. A sample of four teacher education projects founded on the research conclusions, provide evidence for its recommendations: that autobiographical and biographical activity, creative explorations of lifelong interests and personal values should be part of all teacher education programmes. Incorporating these recommendations would, it is claimed, widen inclusion and directly benefit the lives and learning of children.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.11114/jets.v1i2.144


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Journal of Education and Training Studies  ISSN 2324-805X (Print)   ISSN 2324-8068 (Online)

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