Dr. Mary Beattie

Professor Mary Beattie

Professor Emeritus of Education,

Curriculum Teaching and Learning,

Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto.

E-mail: marybeattie.utoronto@gmail.com

I am Professor Emeritus in the Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning at OISE/University of Toronto. My research interests are focused on professional learning, life-long learning, collaborative research in communities, and on narrative, arts-based, holistic approaches to research and pedagogy in higher education. I am the author of four books - The Quest for Meaning: Narratives for Teaching, Learning, and the Arts. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers, 2009: The Art of Learning to Teach; Creating Professional Narratives. New Jersey: Merrill/Prentice Hall, 2nd. Ed.; Preservice Teacher Narratives: Narratives in the Making: Teaching and Learning at Corktown Community High School. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2005. I'm also author of many book chapters, and articles in international journals including Curriculum Inquiry, Educational Research (U.K.), and the Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education. I have presented keynote addresses and academic papers at conferences in Canada, the U.S., Europe and Australia, and conducted workshops for faculty, students and administrators. I was Visiting Professor at Stanford University, California in 1997, and at the University of Iceland in Reykjavik in 2008. I have assessed a range of doctoral theses as an external examiner, particularly those that use narrative and arts-based methodologies. I am a former Governor of The University of Toronto, (Elected Faculty Member), former Chair of OISE Press, Invited Member of SSHRC Assesment Committee 17, and winner of a number of teaching awards.


I have extensive experience in graduate teaching and in post-graduate professional programs in teacher education and teacher development, and in program development and curriculum design and in public school teaching K to 12. I'm an experienced qualitative researcher, supervisor of doctoral and masters theses, and external examiner of Ph.D. research from a range of universities world wide. My teaching and research experience is enriched by my consultation work with other universities, keynote addresses and presentations at conferences, and panels, workshops and seminars in narrative inquiry research at various settings in higher education. My current book project, Narratives of Life-Long Learning, is based on my SSHRC-funded study that examined the links among the differing learning contexts that define how eight experienced holistic educators construct and reconstruct their professional knowledge.The research explored the interaction of narratives in these individuals' lives, and the ways in which they make meaning of the ongoing, intentional, learning in which they chose to engage.


I earned a Three-Year Diploma in Education (Music and English) from St Paul's College of Education in Rugby, England. As a full-time teacher in public schools in London, England and Toronto, Canada, I earned a B.A. (Hons.) in English Literature at York University, Ontario. Following that I earned a Masters degree in English Literature (York University), a Masters degree in Education (Curriculum, Teaching and Learning, University of Toronto OISE), and a Doctorate in Education (University of Toronto, OISE).

Current Activities

  • Ongoing Writing

    • Book Chapters (12): Writing the Second Draft: Narratives of Life Long Learning Through the Arts and Mindfulness Practices. (Based on SSHRC funded research).

    • Chapter for International Handbook of Holistic Education. Educating the Collaborative Researcher: Telling and Re-telling Our Stories, Hearing the Stories Others Tell, and Co-Creating New Narratives.

    • Book Proposal to Palgrave Macmillan UK: Changing the Narrative: The Practices that Form and Transform Us.

    • Journal Article: Narrative Education: Telling Our Stories, Hearing the Stories of Others and Co-Creating Stories in Professional Practice and Collaborative Research. (In Progress)

    • Journal Article: Creating Collaborative Narrative Enquiry Research Partnerships in Communities. (In Progress)

  • Ongoing Graduate Teaching; Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto. CTL1809 Narrative and Story in Research and Professional Practice.

  • June 2016 - Invited Presenter, Narrative Atelier, Mt. Sinai Hospital, Toronto, Canada.

    • Presentation: Using Stories with Patients: Clinical Applications and Readings. (with Dr. Allen Peterkin, Dr. Michael Roberts, and Dr. Sheila Cook)

    • Presentation: Narrative and Story in Professional Practice and Research. (with Dr. Carol Nash, Dr. Nancy McNaughton, Cammy Lee, and Vera Dolan)

  • May 2016 - External Examiner, University of Sydney, NSW Australia, Ph.D. Let Me Tell You a Story: Creativity and Creative Writing for Tomorrow's Classrooms. Amy Jean Mortimer.

  • April 2016 - Conference Presentation, Canadian Medical Association, Pre-Conference, Creating Space, Montreal, Canada.

    • Paper Presentation: Taking Care of Ourselves and Each Other: The power of Mindfulness Practices, Caring Relationships, and Community on Patient Wellbeing. (with Dr. Sheila Cook, and Barb Riley, Wellspring Cancer Support Center)

    • Paper Presentation: Music and Mindfulness: Changing the Narrative Through Arts and Mindfulness Practices.

  • March and April 2016 - Assessor, Comprehensive Examinations for Curriculum Teaching and Learning, OISE/University of Toronto.

  • March 2016 - Letter of Recommendation to The Richard S. Schmeelk Canada Fellowship on behalf of Angela Marsh (M.A. OISE, 2004).

  • February 2016 - Invited Book Review for Palgrave MacMillan, Generative Conversations. R. Ewing and G. Latham.

  • Fall 2015: Assessment of Comprehensive Examinations, Curriculum Studies and Teacher Development Program, OISE/University of Toronto.

  • March 2015: Paper Presentation: Creating Space IV Conference, Canadian Medical Association, Vancouver, BC, Canada. Choosing a Life Colon: Creating Spaces for Arts and Mindfullness Practices, Creativity and Connectedness.

  • October 2014 External Examiner, Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia, Ph.D. The Call to Individuation. Margaret Gibb.

  • May 2014 - External Examiner, Ph.D. Thesis University of Sydney, NSW. Australia. “ Shifting Sands: The Narrative Construction of Early Career Aboriginal Teachers’ Professional identities at the Cultural Interface, Ms. Catherine Maree Burgess

  • December 2013 - Annual Conference, International Institute for Holistic Education, Guadalajara, Mexico.

    • Keynote Address: Honouring the Whole Person in Higher Education: A Holistic, Narrative and Arts-Based Pedagogy.

    • Panel Member: Holistic Education and Happiness.

  • November 2013 - Invited Presenter: A Narrative, Holistic, Arts Based Pedagogy: Connecting the Arts and Humanities to Programmes in Higher Education. Seminar Series: The Health, Arts and Humanities Program, Department of Psychiatry, Mount Sinai Hospital, University of Toronto.

  • October 2013 - Internal Examiner, Ph.D. Oral Authentic Connectivity: A Pedagogue's Loving Responsibility. Madeleine Azzola, University of Toronto/OISE.

  • October 2013 - Panel Member (with Beth Kaplan and Dr. Marlen Goldman UofT) Sarah Poley's Stories We Tell: Conscious Activism Documentary Series. Hart House, University of Toronto. Sponsored by the National Film Board of Canada.

  • September 2013 - Supervisor, Ph.D. Research and Dissertation, Integrating Narratives and the Intentional Evolution of Personal Practical Knowledge. Laura Hegge, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at The University of Toronto. Completed September, 2013. External Examiner, Dr. Robyn Ewing, University of Sydney, NSW, Australia.

  • July 2013 - External Examiner, Promotion to Associate Professor, Dr. Ayesha Bashiruddin. The Aga Khan University, Institute for Educational Development (AKU-IED), Karachi, Pakistan.

  • July 2013 - External Examiner, Ph.D. Dissertation, Arpi Panossian-Muttard, Armenian Canadian Women in Diaspora: The Role of Education in (Up)Rooted Lives, Burdened Souls and Enlivened Spirits. York University Faculty of Education, Toronto.

  • April 2013 - Invited Lectures, Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia.

    • Keynote Address: Conversations in Community; Collaboration, Connectedness and Creativity Through Interacting Narratives.

    • Seminar for Graduate Faculty and Students: A Narrative, Arts Based Pedagogy for Graduate Studies - Self Study Research/Collaborative Narrative Inquiry.

    • Seminar for Researchers/Authors of chapters in Reflections on Learning Life and Work, Maureen Ryan [Ed.], Sense Publishers 2012. Creating Collaborative Research Projects in Communities.

  • April 2013 - Invited Lecture, University of Sydney, NSW, Australia, Faculty of Education and Social Work, Seminar for Graduate Faculty and Students. A Narrative, Arts Based Pedagogy for Graduate Studies; Connecting the Personal, Professional and Scholarly.

  • February 2013 - Participation in Funded Research, Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto. Participant/Expert Consultant in Research Study, Teaching the Intrinsic CanMEDS Roles; Broadening the Curiculum Beyond Bio-science. Principal Investigators; Drs. Kuper/Goguin/Schreiber/Richardson/Whitehead/Upshur.

  • January 2013 - 2005. Committee Member, Lilja Jonsdottir, Ph.D. University of Iceland, Rekjavik, Iceland. Narrative Inquiry in Teacher Development; A Longitudinal Study of Beginning Teachers in Iceland.

  • October 2012 - External Examiner of Ph.D. Theses: University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia. Dr. Nicole Colleen Brunker; Conceptualizing Childrens' Social and Emotional Well Being; Portraits of Lived Meanings in Primary Schooling.

  • September 2012 - Foreword to Reflections on Learning, Life and work: Completing Doctoral Studies in Mid and Later Life and Career, Maureen Ryan [Ed.] Sense Publishers; Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

  • 2010 - September 2013, Ph.D. Committee Member, Meenaz Shams, Arga Khan University, Karachi, Pakistan. A narrative Inquiry into Personal and Professional Identities of Teachers of English in Pakistan.

Professional Development:

  • April 2012. American Educational Research Association (AERA) Conference, Vancouver, BC, Canada.

  • July 2012. University of Toronto, Summer Writing School. Narrative Non-Fiction.

  • Fall 2012. University of Toronto, Continuing Education, Non-Fiction and Travel Writing.

  • Fall 2013 - Spring 2013. OISE UofT Bi-weekly Meetings, Thursday Group, Dr. David Hunt.

My Latest Book

My latest book entitled, The Quest for Meaning: Narratives of Teaching, Learning and the Arts, (2009) presents a narrative, arts-based approach to pedagogy and research in higher education. Through narratives of experience, the book chapters offer revealing examples of the transformative power of the arts and of narrative inquiry in learners lives, and of the centrality of story in their ongoing quest for meaning.

My current writing project is based on a longitudinal study funded by SSHRC, which is entitled, Creating a Life: Connecting Intellect, Intuition and Imagination. The book chapters present the narratives of individuals whose longstanding practices in the arts and in mindfulness have provided them with contexts for reflection and inquiry, for the development of their intellectual, emotional, intuitive, and imaginative capacities, and for their growth as whole human beings.

My current teaching is a course for doctoral and masters level students at OISE/UT entitled, Narrative and Story in Research and Professional Practice.

I am author of the following books:

My latest book,

The Quest for Meaning: Narratives for Teaching, Learning, and the Arts.

Rotterdam: Sense Publishers, 2009.

ISBN: 978-94-6091-036-4 hardback

ISBN: 978-94-6091-035-7 paperback

The Art of Learning to Teach; Creating Professional Narratives.

Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Merrill/Prentice Hall, 2007.

Second edition of The Art of Learning to Teach; Preservice Teacher Narratives.

ISBN: 0-13-174769-X

The Art of Learning to Teach; Preservice Teacher Narratives.

Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Merrill/Prentice Hall, 2001.

ISBN: 0-13-791757-0

In preparation for the second edition of the book, The Art of Learning to teach; Creating Professional Narratives, published in in 2006, the publishers, Merrill/Prentice Hall sent the first edition to four independent reviewers. These reviewers were asked to comment on the significance of the book, and to rank each chapter separately according to the criteria of: a) strengths b) weaknesses c) connection of theory and practice d) currency and accuracy. They were also asked to rate each chapter according to a scale of I to10.

Some examples of reviewers’ comments are as follows:

  • It suffices to say that {the book} is an excellent one. Our university has some seminar classes for teacher education majors. I think it would be a wonderful asset to these seminars. It invites students to think critically about the process of teaching……bringing the student (towards the end of the text) to considering teaching as a “community of learners”, where the teacher is also a continual learner.

I cannot say enough about the activities the text provides. The author provided an abundance of activities, which invite choice for the student and /or the instructor.

  • Excellent connection of theory and practice. This is done very well by the narratives which communicate as one beginning teacher to another. It also provides examples of the type of writing that is appropriate for a journal or portfolio. The suggested activities are excellent………Excellent examples of responding and reflecting throughout.

  • [Regarding Chapter 5] The character and narrative is particularly personal, touching and sensitive. In my experience, this is also realistic in that a relatively large portion of teacher candidates suffer from various disorders…excellent applicability, current and accurate….rate 10

  • [Regarding Chapter 9] Community is often a main topic or even a course in itself in programs with which I am familiar. The example of field practice stages is excellent….This is a plus for students and instructors to have a text narrative that illustrates National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education Standards associated with field experience…excellent applicability, current and accurate, rate 10.

  • [Regarding Chapter 11] A strong narrative that illustrates resiliency and a beginning teacher who doesn’t take issues of discipline/management personally. The method of handling what could be volatile issues is very professional and appropriate…excellent applicability, current and accurate examples, rate 10.

  • [Regarding Chapter 12] Another strong narrative that illustrates an ethical and professional stand in spite of context. This is a significant narrative in that the beginning teacher demonstrates courage. This is one of the dispositions discussed in our local Teacher Education Program and one for which we find it difficult to provide examples. Excellent applicability, current and accurate, rate 10.

Narratives in the Making: Teaching and Learning at Corktown Community High School.

Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2005.

ISBN: 0-8020-8533-4 (paper)

A review in the Canadian Journal of Education, Vol. 28, No.1&2 (2005), by Dr. Helen Christiansen, University of Regina, who says:

  • With Narratives in the Making, Beattie makes a strong contribution to the growing body of educational literature using the “personal experience method”(cf. Clandinin and Connelly) of narrative inquiry. Her work is an inspiration to narrativists and would-be narrativists. First of all, it is aesthetically pleasing: Beattie is a good “storyteller.” Her strength as a narrativist, however, lies in her ability to make the links between theory and practice---between the worlds (and worldviews) of researchers and practitioners. With Narratives in the Making, Mary Beattie takes readers into a school where holistic education is the daily lived experience of its teachers and students. In these challenging times in education, Beattie’s contribution to the literature on schools and schooling should be required reading for educators everywhere. (p.213)

Narratives in the Making: Teaching and Learning at Corktown Community High School.

Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2004.

ISBN: 0-8020-3745-3

Constructing Professional Knowledge in Teaching: A Narrative of Change and Development.

New York: Teachers College Press, 1995. (Soft Cover Version)

ISBN: 0-8077-3395-4

Constructing Professional Knowledge in Teaching: A Narrative of Change and Development.

New York: Teachers College Press, 1995.(Hard Cover Version)


The book was reviewed in the journal, British Educational Management and Administration, 11, (5) (Pitman Publishing, London, U.K.) in 1997. The reviewer wrote the following:

  • This book was so gripping that I ended up reading it cover to cover……it deserves to be widely read. It concerns issues which lie at the heart of education…. The body of the text deals with the intimate professional relationship and friendship between a teacher and teacher educator. Beautifully written, using stories to make profound points about the nature of teaching and our connectedness to our pupils/students/colleagues, this book would be of interest to an exceptionally wide audience. The book is simultaneously realistic and practical; honest and lyrical. I have ordered it for our university library and have already recommended it to initial teacher education students, masters’ students and colleagues. Read it and see what you think.

In a review of the book in the McGill Journal of Education, 31(1), 1996, Dr. Claudia Mitchell of McGill University wrote:

  • ………..perhaps the most important contribution of Beattie’s work in this field is the way it offers the reader insight into representation and the process of telling about such stories, or “how to” story experiences of change and development in someone else’s classroom. This is not easy, and many scholars within a teacher-as-researcher and collaborator framework struggle with how to write about such experiences: in whose voice? Whose agenda? Whose professional knowledge? What gets represented? How are issues of inequalities of power and experience handled in such co-authored or co-researched projects?

  • {The book} is of particular relevance to scholars who are interested in examining procedural issues in doing collaborative biographical studies that of necessity are about phenomenon and method.

In a review in the Irish journal, Oideas,39: Teaching: Retrospect and Prospect, Fall, 1992, (Published by Government Publications, The Government of Ireland), the reviewer Dr. Ciaran Sugrue, St. Patrick’s College, Dublin, (Currently Cambridge University), wrote:

  • This book though gentle and feminine, is quite radical in the virtues it espouses: to listen, to respect diversity, to tell stories so that others may be empowered to find their own voices and thus “gain new understandings and control over their own lives” (p.145). It deserves to be read by teachers and should serve as a powerful catalyst for professional growth and renewal for those who take its story seriously. I commend this book to Irish teachers as a much needed antidote to the new managerialism in education and as an invitation to begin to tell their own stories, thus creating a climate of inquiry. In this way, schools will become better places as they are transformed into sites of inquiry, teaching and learning for teachers as well as for students.

  • It commends itself to post-graduate schools of education also for reasons which Eisner articulates in the forward, “My hope is that her work will serve as a model that will instill confidence in those who manage the gates through which young researchers must pass in their travels through academia.”

Other Recent Publications:

  • Beattie, M. (2007). Creating a Self: A Narrative and Holistic Perspective. International Journal of Education and the Arts. 8,(13) http://ijea.asu.edu: 1-25.

  • Beattie, M., Dobson, D., Thornton, G. & Hegge, L. (2007). Interacting Narratives: Creating and Recreating the Self. International Journal of Lifelong Learning, 26(2): 119-141.Beattie, M. (2006). The Art of Learning to Teach: Creating Professional Narratives. (2nd Edition). New Jersey: Merrill/Prentice-Hall, 182 pages. Formerly published as The Art of Learning to Teach: Preservice Teacher Narratives. Columbus, Ohio, Merrill/Prentice Hall, 192 pages.

  • Beattie, M., Thornton, G., Dobson, D. and Hegge, L. (2005). Intentionally Seeking Spirit – A Work in Progress, Journal of Curriculum and Pedagogy (2) 2. Educators’ International Press. (Invited and reviewed): 102-106.