Table of Contents

Handbook of Qualitative Research in Education

Handbook of Qualitative Research in Education

Elgar original reference

Edited by Sara Delamont

The Handbook of Qualitative Research in Education offers both basic and advanced discussions of data collection, analysis and representation of all the best qualitative methods used in educational research.

Chapter 1: Introduction: Leaving Damascus

Sara Delamont

Subjects: education, education policy, research methods, politics and public policy, education policy, research methods, qualitative research methods, social policy and sociology, education policy


Sara Delamont In James Elroy Flecker’s poem ‘The Gates of Damascus’ (1947), the poet imagines four exits from the safe comfortable city to the outside world. Each gate takes the traveller into a different set of temptations and dangers. The Aleppo Gate leads to trade and commerce, the Mecca Gate is for faith and pilgrimage, the Lebanon Gate for exploration and the search for enlightenment, and the Baghdad Gate leads to danger and even death. When we educational researchers leave our safe city, our ivory tower, our Damascus, we can choose which gate we take: that is, our destination, our goal, our dream. This introduction will explore the choices that face educational researchers, and the consequences of those choices. Issues of funding, faith, exploration and danger will be discussed with examples from controversies about educational research. There are multiple dangers when a metaphor such as the gates of Damascus is taken to write about educational research in the postindustrial, or postmodern, globalized world. Flecker lived and wrote in a very different era: Constantinople and Smyrna have vanished. The most obvious danger is orientalism (Said, 1978): that is, authors in the west will always prefer their idealized orient to any corrective or corrected realities, because accepting the latter would force the westerner to abandon the unthinking superiority embodied in the ‘othering’ of the orient and the oriental (Marcus, 2001). Despite the dangers, I like the poem’s extended metaphor, and am going to behave like the caravan passing out of Damascus, and...