Voices from the Perch: An Orchestrated Response to Davis
The editor of this journal sent me an advance copy of Wesley’s Davis’ article asking if I would be interested in writing a response, no doubt since my voice was one of those “pronouncements from an awesomely elevated professorial perch” that Mr. Davis apparently found so irksome. In the spirit of one of the best attributes of a particular form of qualitative research, ethnography, in that it seeks to construct meaning from a multitude of voices, I have chosen to include the voices of my students enrolled in a course I taught in the summer of 1993, Advanced Methods of Qualitative Research. Their thoughtful comments and insights are a better testament to how this research paradigm leads to a greater understanding of schools and children’s learning than any I can provide. Mr. Davis’ worst fears about teachers conducting research may be alleviated since several students in the class were teachers (past and present) who are using their knowledge of classrooms as a basis for formulating their research questions. This article is a compilation of voices who strongly contest Mr. Davis’ contentions; my role in this rebuttal is to act as an interlocutor to selected portions of the students’ responses. Since qualitative research often features the organization of data by thematic categories, the students’ responses are organized into four major themes: the nature of research, the construction of meaning, the question of validity, and textual strategies for writing up social science research.