What is Living Educational Theory (Living Theory) research and what are living-educational-theories (living-theories)? A brief resume

‘Living Educational Theory’ (Living Theory) (with upper case) research refers to a lexical definition of meaning which distinguishes Living Theory research, whereas living-educational-theory’ (living-theory) (with lower case) refers to the unique embodied and ostensive expressions of meaning in explanations of an individual’s educational influence in learning.

Whitehead’s 1985 paper presents his notion of a living form of educational theory and in his 1989 paper he coined the term ‘Living Educational Theory’ to denote a distinct form of theorising and research whereby an individual produces an ‘explanation of their educational influence in their own learning, the learning of others and the learning of social formations’.

An individual’s living-educational-theories (living-theories) are living, that is they are evolving and they are lived as they are embodied and expressed by the researcher through their practice. Researchers’ living-theory accounts provide explanations and standards of judgment of ‘improving practice’ in terms of their relational and ontological values that are clarified as they emerge and evolve through their research. A 'living-educational-theory’ is the particular/unique living-educational-theory generated by individuals to explain their educational influences in learning in enquiries of the kind, ‘How do I improve what I am doing?’. An individual’s living-educational-theory account includes evaluations of past learning and an intention to improve practice in the future in ways that are not yet realized in practice. Improvement in practice is understood as practice that contributes to a world in which humanity can flourish and is expressed in the values-based living standards of judgment (Laidlaw, 1996) of the Living Theory researcher.

Living Theory research is a form of self-study research in which practitioners research questions that are important to them to generate their values-based ‘explanations of their educational influence in their own learning, the learning of others, and the learning of social formations’ (Whitehead, 1989). They use various research methods such as Action Research, Narrative Enquiry and Auto-ethnography. Living Theory research is distinguishable by the form of logic, epistemology, explanations, standards of judgement and units of appraisal.

The evolving history of Living Educational Theory research can be seen in publications dating from 1967, many of which can be freely accessed from http://www.actionresearch.net.