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Boy, walk with a purpose: A postmodern study of the conversation between the discourses of secondary English education

Michael P Riendeau, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This study seeks to re-present the experiences of a group of secondary English teaches in what I argue is a postmodern situation. I have utilized Seidman's (1998) model of in-depth interviewing as a primary means of data collection, supplemented by informal interviewing, journal writing, and participant observation. In invoking a postmodern orientation with these approaches to data collection/analysis/interpretation/ presentation, I have attempted to resist the inclination to view the stories of participants as representative of some essential experience that is more “real” than each story, itself. I view these stories as the product of inquiry rather than as simple and direct representations of participant's experience. At the same time, in crafting the representation of these stories, I have also imagined and created another, neither more nor less real, story of what it is to be an English teacher. This re-presentation takes the form of an imagined dialogue between the Discourses of Teacher Mythology and the Social Science Profession and is crafted entirely from the verbatim data (as I have defined it). The central “question” that informs this study is: what is it like to be an English teacher? This question was used, throughout the research process, as a guiding principle for data collection, analysis, interpretation, and presentation—elements of the process that I have come to see as inseparable. In using phenomenological interviewing as a model for the methodology of this study, I have sought to re-create or re-imagine the experiences of the participants in way that is accessible to readers and have avoided, to the extent possible, characterizing my “take” on this re-presentation as “the findings” of this study. In re-presenting the participants' stories, I offer a text that I hope can be useful to others in seeking new problems in their familiar settings, and I include responses to this study offered by several people working in secondary education as models for that sort problem-posing. I also provide suggestions for further use of these research and representation methods.

Subject Area

Secondary education|Educational theory

Recommended Citation

Riendeau, Michael P, "Boy, walk with a purpose: A postmodern study of the conversation between the discourses of secondary English education" (2003). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3096310.