Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Slavish Devotion

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Slavish Devotion

Article excerpt

The educational world divides into a small minority who brazenly employ the word "pedagogy" and the vast majority who never utter it during their entire career. I fall into the second category, having always retreated from using this needless word. I prefer to stick with the more familiar term "teaching" to embrace all that we do.

The word pedagogy has never captured many hearts and minds. It makes even the most confident and earnest of users sound faintly ridiculous. Personally, I find it pointless, mildly pretentious and possibly counterproductive for professional progress. Whenever someone says it, I cringe. This is not because I am against questioning and reflecting on teaching. I just don't see why we need to wheel in that ugly "p" word when the "t" word surely suffices.

Isn't using the word pedagogy sometimes - consciously or unconsciously - merely an attempt to suggest more gravitas than might otherwise be perceived?

"Ah, but pedagogy means much more than just teaching," I hear the pedagogues countering. Indeed, I have watched someone bring up a PowerPoint slide on this very matter - perhaps to reassure themselves, or perhaps to shoot down any protests from their audience.

Said slide offered us a Solomon-like verdict on the (supposed) difference between teaching and pedagogy. I don't recall who exactly but the presenter quoted an educational double-act - let's say "Natterjack and Emmental (1992)" - as if the views of a couple of researchers (whether we had heard of them or not) constituted unanswerable proof. …

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