Debates in English Teaching

Debates in English Teaching

Debates in English Teaching

Debates in English Teaching


What are the key debates in English teaching today?

Debates in English Teaching explores the major issues all English teachers encounter in their daily professional lives. It engages with established and contemporary debates, promotes and supports critical reflection and aims to stimulate both novice and experienced teachers to reach informed judgements and argue their point of view with deeper theoretical knowledge and understanding.

Key issues debated include:

  • the professional identity of English teachers
  • attitudes to correctness in grammar and standard English
  • the importance of the media and new technologies
  • social class and literacy
  • the nature of the dialogic classroom
  • the role of wider reading
  • the politics of early literacy.

With its combination of expert opinion and fresh insight, Debates in English Teaching is the ideal companion for all student and practising teachers engaged in initial training, continuing professional development and master's level study.


John Moss

The editors of this series and this book debated possible titles for it for some time. The title Debates in English Teaching for the book (and Debates in Subject Teaching for the series) was settled on because of the editors’ shared belief that many issues in subject teaching are contested, that rigorous debate is needed to take the discussion of them forward and that, in the context of the increasing recognition by the global education community, and not least by some influential stakeholders in England, that teachers’ work should be supported by high- level academic engagement: teachers undertaking Initial Teacher Education and practising qualified teachers should be supported in taking part in those debates.

There are, of course, some problems associated with the representation of complex issues in the form of the kinds of debate which set up binary oppositions between positions in order to discuss them. This practice may, for example, give credibility to positions which should have none: the case is known to me of a teacher who proposed to include a debate on ‘the pros and cons of apartheid’ in a sixth- form general studies course.

The contributors to this book generally avoid setting up this kind of simplistic and dangerous opposition. Instead, making the assumption that what readers of this book will be primarily concerned with is how to teach English well, and that this can only be defined with primary reference to the interests of pupils, they characteristically demonstrate that debates about good practice in English teaching are embedded in a complex set of overlapping debates about the philosophy of English teaching, the politics of English teaching and the role of schooling in society, among others.

The manner in which contributors to this book typically construct the debates they engage in is, with varying degrees of explicitness, as a set of overlapping discourses, where a discourse is a self- contained collection of utterances made in connection with an identifiable purpose and controlled by an individual/group who has/have, or at least assert(s), the authority to take forward that purpose in the way that it affects the lives of others, who may or may not have opportunities to contribute to that discourse.

The discourses which contributors to this book are most concerned with are those which relate to research into subject teaching and subject teaching policy.

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