First principles of good practice were summarised (Chapter 2) as the working out from educational ideals of how to deploy skills and techniques, choose content, modes of assessment and so on. At a minimum, teachers try systematically to fulfil their own views on what it is to be an educated citizen in a good society. Their individual and/or shared ‘visions’ inspires their professional roles. And the fact that there are competing ways of fulfilling or characterising educational ideals (e.g. of how to teach effective learners to be effective citizens) means that many considerations will present themselves, from time to time, dedicated to confirming a position taken by teachers or changing it. These will be practical, political, ethical and academic.
If teachers commit themselves to some educational concepts or other, theorists will latch onto this commitment as justification for the closest possibly study of its theoretical implications. To repeat an obvious point, it isn’t that teachers flounder unless they grasp educational theory. It is just that theoretical (research-based) debate is the only way we know for predicting what may happen or not happen when one decision (about educational curricula, say) is taken rather than another. Because human interactions occur on so many levels (physical, social, psychological and so on), it is very difficult to observe these cause-effect relationships happening in schools and colleges, whereas it is not only possible but also pretty certain that hidden outcomes, by-products, unnoticed side-effects will accompany any one brand of teaching. Educational theories exist to predict such side-effects as well as confirm mainline expectations.
So how competent, successful and excellent teachers really are can be determined only by applying theoretical concepts to what they do. It follows that if they are knowingly to teach well, their best chances of