chapter  10
13 Pages

Research and teaching

The purpose of all research is to teach, not in the narrow sense of being available for students, but in the broader sense of teaching people in the wider community about the world they live in. Teaching provides the raison d’être for research. When we look around the world in which we live, there is no aspect of our daily experience which is not informed by perceptions of reality defined for us by research. Chemists, for example, have changed the way we view the air we breathe, sociologists have affected the way we perceive our relationships with the people with whom we come into contact, historians have shaped the way we relate to the street where we live. Indeed there is not one aspect of our daily lives for which our perception has not been influenced by some aspect of research. Research findings are one of the most fundamental impetuses directing the ways in which people’s perceptions of the world around them change and develop. There are answers to important problems which only research can teach us about. Yet, as we saw in Chapter Nine, what society learns is not rationally decidable. Political, ideological and social factors influence the adoption of particular ideas by students, colleagues and society at large. The negotiation and communication involved in the processes of interpretation and construction of knowledge all contribute to the ways in which research changes ideas.