Re-writing professional discourse
The following thesis is concerned with what I have termed professional discourse. I have used the term to call attention to two elements. With professional, I have indicated a recent move in educational analysis and research on teachers and other practitioners which represents a shift to a concern with practical activities, a tacit or explicit resistance to theory, and an attempt to displace the cognitive paradigm of research and theorizing. With the notion of discourse, I have indicated that, in order that the as yet limited debate on professional activity be opened up, it has to be linked with the discourse on practice. By the latter, I mean the opposition between practice and theory at the analytical level, and its most recent unfoldings and manifestations. The thesis identifies a vocabulary of practice, implicating such concepts as reflection, repetition, judgment, skill, example, exemplar, and a series of oppositional terms, such as saying/showing, competence/performance, explicit/implicit knowledge. These serve as a link between the professional and the practical. The problematic of the theory/practice relation in its various formulations is, then, explicitly addressed in the work of Dreyfus, Habermas, Lyotard and Derrida. The thesis claims that (a) it is Dreyfus' thesis on exemplarity that makes the link possible between the professional and the practical, but (b) it is only with Habermas, Lyotard and Derrida that the professional/practical discourse can take its linguistic turn. Then the thesis addresses the implications of the linguistic turn. It argues that it is only through an examination of the metaphysical presuppositions of the linguistic turn that the claim of professional discourse to be free from the determinations of theory can be assessed; in particular, the research methodologies of professional discourse have not made a decision concerning metaphysics and thus they are reduced to methodological technicity.