Classroom Pedagogy and Primary Practice

Classroom Pedagogy and Primary Practice

Classroom Pedagogy and Primary Practice

Classroom Pedagogy and Primary Practice

Synopsis

In this provocative book, David McNamara argues that a 'teacher-centred' approch to teaching in the primary school, especially in the later years is actually in the best interests of the children - that the teacher must be seen to have ultimate responsibility for what and how children learn. He attempts to define the distinctive professional expertise of the primary teacher - the application of subject knowledge within the special circumstances of the classroom - and to show how this expertise can be articulated to establish a body of educational knowledge which is both derived from practice and practically useful to others.
At a time when increasing emphasis is being placed on the role of the practising teacher as a mentor in intitial teacher education, this book will help teachers at all levels to define their own role in the creation of educational knowledge.

Excerpt

If we ask, ‘What is an accountant or a surgeon and what is the basis for their authority and expertise?’ the approach to finding an answer is reasonably clear-cut. We describe their work in terms of the activities and tasks they undertake and identify the body of formal knowledge which underpins and informs their professional expertise. the accountant must know tax law and the surgeon anatomy. There is an agreed body of knowledge and skill which must be acquired and demonstrated before anyone can claim to be practising as an accountant or surgeon. Teachers, too, are professionals whose work requires training and expertise but it is misleading and unhelpful to compare teachers with other occupations. To consider school teaching in the same manner as, say, the accountant and surgeon does not permit such a straightforward response. This is because teaching is a general form of behaviour which all sorts and conditions of people engage in from time to time. the accountant will teach his client how to organise his affairs for his financial advantage; the surgeon who devises a new operating technique may invite colleagues into his theatre so that he can teach it to them. in what follows I argue that teaching is one of the familiar ways in which people behave in various social contexts and then go on to ask what is distinctive about school teaching and what is the basis for the school teacher’s professional expertise? Another way to approach the question, ‘What is teaching?’ is to ascertain what teachers actually do in their classrooms. Thus in order to gain an appreciation of what constitutes professional practice it is necessary to attend to the ways in which the majority of teachers teach for most of their time because there appear to be some enduring characteristics of classroom practice which suggest that they are intelligent ways of coping with the demands of teaching in classroom environments. If we wish to consider how teachers ought to teach or make suggestions for improving the quality of teaching and learning it is prudent to establish how, in practice, teachers go about their teaching and why they behave as they do, rather than start with an ideal view of how teachers ought to teach based upon educational philosophy or psychological conjecture about how children learn.

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