What deathless powers: A conversation with Steinbeck to problematize the role of the ethnographic researcher in education

Esther Fitzpatrick


‘What deathless power lies in the hands’ of the practitioner and researcher? Whilst designing an arts- based methodology, I considered Steinbeck’s notion of the ‘teacher who writes on children’s minds’ (Steinbeck, 1955). This paper tells the story of how I conversed with others as I considered and designed a study to critically explore my research question: What does it mean to be a Pākehā educator? As an emerging researcher I looked to mentors/guides/critical friends to enlarge my understanding of the role I was undertaking, represented here through a fictional conversation with John Steinbeck. For the purpose of my study I required a methodology that would enable me to engage in an in depth exploration of individual stories of contemporary Pākehā educators, whilst acknowledging my central role as both Pākehā and educator. I chose to take a postcritical ethnographic approach. 


Ethics; identity; postcritical ethnography; stories

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DOI: 10.15663/wje.v20i1.181


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© Wilf Malcolm Institute of Educational Research, Te Kura Toi Tangata Faculty of Education, 2015