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Noreen B. Garman, Ph.D.

TITLE: Professor of Education
Coordinator, Social and Comparative Analysis in Education Program

AFFILIATION; Department of Administrative and Policy Studies
University of Pittsburgh


I began my teaching career as a high school English teacher who also directed the school plays and musicals. I really canıt remember a time when I wasnıt teaching. ³Doing teaching² has been my occupation: ³understanding teaching² has been my preoccupation. In 1968 I began to supervise teaching both in the public schools and the University. My dissertation research focused on an instructional supervision program for teaching assistants in the English Department at the University of Pittsburgh. Since then I have been teaching courses in instructional supervision, curriculum studies and adult learning in the School of Education. I also teach qualitative research and ways of knowing.

I like to think that I bring an interpretivist orientation from my roots in the arts to my research and practice in education. The longer I have studied teaching, however, the more confounding, even mysterious, the educative act is for me. Two decades ago I was more certain. At that time I was influenced by the behavioral/mechanistic language of curriculum and teaching, yet always feeling at odds with the neutral functionalism and certitude that dominated our field. I know now that I was experiencing what our study group has called ³ontological dissonance² and for a few early years I had no way to name my ideas. Eventually I began writing about supervision and curriculum from an interpretivist stance and at some point realized that I had found a linguistic home in the world view I could now claim.

How fortunate I have been these last 35 years to have been engaged in meaningful activities, or, put another way, to be paid to do what I love--- to teach and write. In addition, because of my writings Iıve managed to work extensively in Australia, to lecture in Korea and to take a senior Fulbright position in the Philippines. In the mid 1990ıs I directed two educational programs in Bosnia during and after the war. As a result of my international focus Iıve taken on administrative duties and, as so often happens, find myself often consumed by expedient organizational demands even though much about administrative work is grounded in what I continue to think of as the mysteries of the educative.

One of many beliefs about teaching continues to crowd my inquiry. It is the belief that teaching is a moral craft. As teachers we are continually confronted with moral dilemmas. If it is possible to define good teaching I would posit that it resides in the struggle to come to terms with our dilemmas. We struggle to balance a sense of duty to our students on one hand and the integrity of our discipline on the other. We recognize that there is an intentionality about teaching which cannot guarantee learning, so we are obliged to be vigilant during the time we have with our students. We try to balance the high intellectual standards of the university on one hand with the self-esteem of the learners on the other. We recognize the high degree of manipulation in what we call teaching. We confront the ideologies which conflict with our own. We wonder how much we do to enhance our own egos. We are passionate about ideas and try to infuse intellectual rigor with a sense of compassion. We are too often overextended and tired. We get annoyed with superficial thinking and self-promoting behavior. Still we recognize the importance of mutual respect. For me, the moral struggle is central to the craft of teaching and I am still enchanted with the possibilities for inquiry within the struggle.

Over the years the study group has been the center of intellectual nourishment which has helped me to name my deepest insights. The study group is truly a community of learners.

Selected Publications

Piantanida, M. and Garman, N. (1999) The Qualitative Dissertation: A Guide for Faculty and Students. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Piantanida, M., Garman, N.& McMahon. (2000) Crafting an arts-based educational research thesis: Issues of tradition and solipsism. In P.Willis , (eds.) Being, Seeking, Telling :Expressive Approaches to Qualitative Adult Education Research. Flaxton, Australia: Post Pressed.

Piantanida, M., McMahon, P,. & Garman,. (April, 2003). Shaping the conversational contours of arts-based research in education. Qualitative Inquiry. 9/2

Garman, N. & Holland, P. (1995).The rhetoric of school reform reports: Sacred, skeptical and cynical interpretations. In R. Ginsburg& D. Plank, Commissioners, Reports Reforms and Educational Policy. Praeger Publishers.

Neville, R. and Garman, N. (1998). ³Philosophic approaches to school supervision.² In J. Firth and E. Pajak (eds), The Handbook on Research in School Supervision. Macmillan Library Reference USA.

Garman, N. (1998). ³Journey from exotic horror to bitter wisdom: research and development in Bosnia & Herzegovina.² In J. Smyth and G. Schacklock (eds.) Being Reflexive in Critical, Social and Educational Research. NY: Falmer Press.

Garman, N. (1996) ³Qualitative inquiry: meaning and menace for educational researchers.² In P. Willis and B. Neville (eds.), Qualitative Research Practice in Adult Education. Ringwood, Victoria, Australia. David Lovell Publishing.

Garman, N. (1995) ³Beyond the reflective practitioner and toward discursive practice.² Teaching and Teachers Work, vol.3, no.1. Australia.

Garman, N. (1990) ³Values education in the Philippines and the living curriculum.² Educational Quarterly, vol.37, no.1.

Copyright 2003,