Quality Teaching: A Sample of Cases

Quality Teaching: A Sample of Cases

Quality Teaching: A Sample of Cases

Quality Teaching: A Sample of Cases

Synopsis

Discussion of teacher education too often degenerates into a false dichotomy between the claims of theory and practice. InQuality Teaching,Edgar Stones breaks through that sterile debate by focusing on teachers as inquirers who try to solve pedagogical problems and who draw on all the educational, psychological, theoretical, and practical resources at their disposal. By detailed analysis of numerous case studies of novice and experienced teachers grappling with real classroom problems, Stones shows that true quality teaching is only achieved by sensitivity to the interplay between the processes by which children acquire knowledge, the structure of knowledge within the subject being taught, and the whole context in which the teaching is being done. He makes available to teachers and student teachers a whole body of empirically based psychological knowledge on concept learning, problem solving, and the learning of physical skills and shows for the first time how this knowledgecan inform and at the same time be refined by what happens in the classroom. Throughout, his aim is to support teachers as explorers in pedagogy and active problem solvers, guided but not limited by theoretical insights from the study of human learning.

Excerpt

‘When I use a word’, Humpty Dumpty said in a rather scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.’

‘The question is’, said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean different things.’

‘The question is’, said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master—that’s all.’

(Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-glass 1871)

QUALITY THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS

Like Humpty Dumpty, the British Department of Education and Science (DES) has a way with words. One example for the connoisseur was the title of a Government White Paper Education: A Framework for Expansion (DES 1973), which led to a sphincteral contraction in educational provision in Britain. A decade later this was followed by another masterpiece: Teaching Quality, also a White Paper (DES 1983), which is doing for quality what Framework for Expansion did for quantity. Humpty Dumpty would have approved not only the title, which maintained the tradition of Education: A Framework for Expansion in meaning what they wanted it to mean, but also in a central theme echoing Humpty Dumpty’s clinching assertion about the nature of the real question: ‘which is to be master?’

In an attempt to get out of this looking-glass world I have found myself turning around not only the title of the 1983 White Paper, which purported to be a programme for improving the quality of teaching, but also its central theses. Thus in Quality Teaching I argue that the prescriptions in the Government’s Teaching Quality are likely to achieve the opposite of its declared intentions.

The reasons for the apparent paradox of my suggestion that the prescriptions of Teaching Quality are likely to produce effects the opposite of those promulgated, are complex. Some of the more potent ones, such as ‘which is to be master?’, are beyond the scope of this book. However, at the heart of Teaching Quality is a view of teaching that sustains and gives it life. Since its enunciation, this view of teaching has thrived and has, in recent

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