A world caught up in as dramatic a flux as today's certainly poses the need to address global issues, but also requires a focus on the local, hidden forces moving the whole. This book, which is the result of qualitative, ethnographic research carried out throughout 2002 and 2003, attempts a description and problematisation of both the global and local aspects of the contemporary educational world in order to produce a thicker' description of the many components which characterise it. The author is aware that the choice of a qualitative approach might lend itself to criticism in a country such as ltaly, which has a long tradition of positivist research, even in the field of education. Yet 'hard', reliable data lacks the depth of less structured materials which could well help to give an insight into the determinants of action, alongside developing 'situational understanding'. lt is yet to be proved that experimental investigation is the preferable form of research in the educational field, where diverse individuals, each with his/her personal characteristics and motives, daily interact in unique situations. Based on this conviction, which was itself an achievement in the author's journey into qualitative research, this book does not aim to put forward a collection of generalisable findings or ready-made recipes to be re-used in different contexts. Far from that, it could rather be looked upon as an experience repertoire handed down to help other teachers and their students to identify and give a voice to their own priorities in their personal quests for understanding and empowerment.
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