Living Contradiction is a fascinating, honest examination of that genuine contradiction faced by teachers in reconciling the effort made to encourage young people towards independent critical thinking, with the simultaneous sense of responsibility to instruct and insist on a particular behaviour.
As adults we entrust teachers with a significant influence over the futures our children will enjoy. In reading Warren and Bigger's book it is encouraging to know that there are thoughtful professionals prepared to think beyond the constraints of the curriculum and work hard to find a way forward that best benefits young people; and it is heartening to read work that promotes empowerment and motivation over discipline and dictation whilst still insisting on a mutual respect. The authors also acknowledge that school is a community in itself that can reflect the best, and worst, of the society we expect young people to fit into as adults, and that teachers have a significant part to play in how that society can be influenced by the experience of young people in schools.
The authors' methodology is robust, providing a full discussion and acknowledgement of the benefits and constraints of autobiography in an academic research project, and offers thought-provoking insight into the use of the immediacy of blogging as a tool to record or diarise, and share, immediate experience. Living Contradiction also offers an interesting evaluation of the role of educational theorists set against the realities of teachers' experience on the front line in schools, where years of academic research are set against the need to respond to a behaviour in a matter of minutes.