This book’s argument is that schoolteachers, of all subjects and at all levels, use professionally devised theories of good practice in their work, if with varying degrees of conscious intent. Formed, refined and tested over many years, by multidisciplinary debate as well as by usage, these theories, ideals or models serve well-known social and educational values. They are not vulnerable to wayward fashions and trends in the way we sometimes think. Nor are they moved, much, by fine-line compromises within government advisory groups, large-scale consensus and research studies, surveys of professional opinion, or legislation derived from or drawing on these. Teachers are public servants who obey governmental diktat without demur. But to stay in charge of their own jobs, they dare not abandon the grounds of their own professionalism.
The argument, itself, can be summarised as a number of general statements, so that anyone doubting any part of it can see what points need overturning. These statements are grouped below in a way meant to show what is essential about them. First, attempts are made to explode the most potent myths about teaching which continue to hypnotise policy-makers. Second, they resolve—or at least throw a little light on —a few long-standing mysteries. Third, they are used to explain something of the magic of competent, successful and excellent teaching.
Myths of all kinds pervade educational decision-making. Many cluster around widely held beliefs especially difficult to banish because they appear to accord with common-sense prejudices about human learning and behaviour. O’Hagan (1999) lists many of these in a book charting the future of comprehensive education, which contributors to his book