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Pedagogy: What Do We Know?
Chris Watkins and Peter Mortimore
The ai m of this chapter is to highlight a number of issues in the use of the
term pedagogy and to outline some of the ways i n which the word is used.
We wil l discuss the research literature on pedagogy and suggest there is a
trend amongst writers towards an increased recognition of the complexity of
pedagogical activity. We also detect an increasing awareness of the need to
take into account the context i n which pedagogy occurs. We wil l compare
the views of some of these academic writers with those of practitioners and,
final ly, consider public and policy-makers' apparent views about pedagogy.
In writing this book we are conscious that a large number of issues wil l be
raised and only a few resolved. We hope, however, that we wil l contribute
to an important debate about di fferent approaches to teaching and, ulti­
mately, to ways of improving learning for learners of all ages.
PEDAGOGY: A CONTESTED TERM
The term pedagogy is seldom used i n English writing about education. Where
writers have used the term, they have often been criticized for using an ill­
defined and poorly developed idea. We do not recognize this criticism as fair.
Rather, we recognize that, as with other complex ideas, pedagogy wil l be dif­
ficult to define - even i n the formal literature on the subj ect. The bound­
aries of the concept may seem unclear, but the ways i n which different writers
have drawn them may itself be instructive.
'Pedagogy' , derived from French and Latin adaptations of the Greek [nata,
nato (boy) + aywyoa (leader) ] , literally means a man having oversight of a
child, or an attendant leading a boy to schoo!. This meaning is now obso­
lete. Moreover, the gendering, appropriate i n ancient Greece - where the for­
mal education of girls was unusual - is inappropriate for modern times. The
l i mitations of the literal meaning of the term have encouraged leading con­
temporary writers to invent broader terms, such as 'andragogy', for adult
education (Knowles, 1980) .
Modern day usage of the term 'pedagogy' is more common in other
European countries, in particular, i n French, German and Russian-speaking
academic communities, than in English-speaking ones. In continental Europe,
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2 UNDERSTANDING PEDAGOGY
pedagogical institutes are to be found alongside, and within, university
departments. Academic awards in pedagogy are also common. A scan of
Zeitschrift fur Padagogik, a European j ournal seemingly addressing this area
of work, shows, however, that few articles actually do focus on what to many
British readers would be central: classroom teaching. The boundaries of ped­
agogy in mainland Europe, it appears, are defined very broadly. As one
Swedish academic notes: 'Pedagogy as a discipl i ne extends to the considera­
tion of the development of health and bodily fitness, soci al and moral wel­
fare, ethics and aesthetics, as well as to the institutional forms that serve to
facilitate society's and the individual's pedagogic aims' (Marton and Booth,
1 997, p. 1 78) . Even in France, a country which has taught pedagogy since
1 883, the director of its Institut National de Recherche Pedagogique has
described how the term is subj ect to changing connotations and pressures
(Best, 1 988) .
I n the context of these cultural differences, there have been accusations of
'neglect of pedagogical studies i n England' (Si mon, 1 994, p. 147) . Si mon
locates the reason for this neglect in the outl ook of the dominant publ ic
schools and their traditional concern with character formation rather than
with intellectual development. A more parsimonious explanation may be that
the term has not found a stable working use amongst British educators.
Brief definitions of pedagogy are offered from time to time. A common
example is 'the science of teaching'. However, the brevity of this phrase may
create its own di fficulty, since such a definition depends on the reader's
assumptions about 'science' and their conceptions of 'teaching'. In this chap­
ter, we wish to avoid an overly positivist view of science based, as it would
be, on an experimental methodology, the formulation of ' l aws' and a tech­
nical approach which portrays itsel f as independent of the prevai ling social
order. !
We are anxious not to exclude other forms of understanding simply
because of the definition we adopt, for example, inadvertently excluding the
arts because we refer directly to the sciences. In order to overcome this prob­
lem, we wi l l adopt an inclusive approach more like that which characterized
the first appearance of the term 'pedagogics' in 1 864: 'the science, art or
principles of pedagogy' (Oxford Shorter English Dictionary, 1 993) . We also
wish to draw attention to an alternative way of thinking about pedagogy
which is neither science nor art: this is seeing pedagogy as a craft, an
approach suggested by writers who recognize uncertainty and the l imits of
predictabi lity (McDonald, 1 992; Marland, 1 993) .
I n a si milar way we do not wish t o define the term pedagogy in a way
which stresses only the teacher's role and activity - this would be better
described under the more l imited term of didactics. We believe that it is help-
1 We welcome, however, views of science embodying uncertainty, relativity, complexity and
chaos and recognizing the role of creativity and social construction in knowledge-creation
(Fleck, 1935; Latour and Woolgar, 1986).
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PEDAGOGY: WHAT DO WE KNOW? 3
ful to our discussion to focus our attention on teaching but we also need to
take the learner into account. Thus the basic premise from which we wish
to begin our definition of pedagogy i s: 'any conscious activity by one per­
son designed to enhance learning in another'.
RESEARCH LITERATURE ON PEDAGOGY
Conceptions of pedagogy have become more complex over time. By this we
mean that our growing knowledge has simultaneously become both more
differentiated and more integrated. In other words, we believe that we now
know more of the di fferent elements which are needed to compose an ade­
quate model, and can also integrate them into the whole by describing the
relations between them.
We suggest four mai n phases, although it would be misleading to suggest
that these phases represent a smooth progression towards greater under­
standing.
The l i terature to which we will refer has been generated by academics,
working mai nl y in universities, and is available through our access to for­
mal knowledge codified in l i braries and world-wide databases. We recognize
that this is not the common knowledge base of an everyday classroom prac­
titioner nor of an educational pol icy-maker. We consider that teachers and
policy-makers are l i kel y to view pedagogy in different ways. We will discuss
such di fferences in perspective in later sections of this chapter.
Phase 1: A focus on different types of teachers
Early studies of teaching adopted a focus on the teacher's 'style'. A common
way to do so was to construct what are sometimes termed 'polarized typifi­
cations' of teachers. Such typifications have often reflected key concerns of
their time. During the inter-war and post-war years, for example, concerns
about 'authoritarianism' and 'democracy' were reflected in studies of group
leadership style. A much-quoted study characterized approaches as being
either 'authoritarian' or 'democratic', although the investigator added a third
style, 'laissez-faire' (Lewin et al., 1 939). Other studies divided teachers
according to whether they were ' integrative' or 'dominative' (Anderson and
Brewer, 1 946). This conceptualization of pedagogy was si mple in its attri­
bution of i mpact to a teacher's personal style.
Such a polarized categorization, perhaps, reveals that the underlying pur­
pose of these exercises was to identify 'good' and 'bad' approaches.
Interestingly, such studies have rarely been accompanied by advice about how
any 'bad' pedagogue might be made 'good'! Perhaps the sole focus on the
teacher helps to el icit derogatory connotations such as those of 'pedantry,
dogmatism and severity' which attach to the noun 'pedagogue' (Oxford
Shorter English Dictionary, 1 993). Polarized conceptions of teachers contin­
ued into some studies carried out in the 1 960s and 1 970s. Bennett, for
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4 UNDERSTANDING PEDAGOGY
example, having argued strongly against 'i l l -defined dichotomies' (Bennett
and Jordan, 1 975) later col lapsed twelve separate clusters into one ' i nfor­
mal -formal ' dimension (Bennett, 1 976).
The move away from attempts to categorize significant features of peda­
gogy by polarized and over-simpl istic descriptions of teachers' approaches
coi ncided with the advent of studies which, with the development of mai n­
frame computers, were able to analyse large data-sets. One such study applied
multiple psychometric measures to a sample of over 6,000 teachers (Ryans,
1 968). The study found a significant correlation between teachers receiving
a uniformly high assessment of their cl assroom behaviour and the frequency
of their involvement in avocational (non-work) activities (p. 393). Such find­
ings i l l ustrate both the potential and the l i mitations of correlational analy­
sis. They also demonstrate the l i mitations of a too-personal focus on the
teacher.
Later it became clear that prevalent modes of pedagogy depended on much
more than the style of the teacher. Contrary to the received wisdom that
classrooms had become 'progressive' and 'chi ld-centred' , surveys were reveal­
ing that 'traditional' practice remained the dominant form of teaching in pri­
mary schools in the United Kingdom (Barker Lunn, 1 984; Galton, 1 987).
Si mi l ar evidence was presented in the USA ( Cuban, 1 984), together with an
analysis that such constancy of approach could be identified over a number
of decades and, perhaps, reflected some basic features of the classroom sit­
uation. A productive focus on pedagogy, therefore, should incorporate an
additional recognition that teachers are influenced by their context.
Phase 2: A focus on the contexts of teaching
Research studies which adopted a detailed focus on life in the classroom
established a more sophisticated approach to understanding the complex
interactions of pupils and teachers. Smith and Geoffrey's ( 1 968) research, for
example, described the detai l of l i fe in urban classrooms. Kouni n's work,
which also highlighted the complexities of classroom life, has remained influ­
ential for twenty years (Kounin, 1 977).
Doyle provides an overview of studies which have focused on classroom
contexts:
Classrooms are crowded and busy places in which groups of students who vary
i n interests and abi lities must be organized and directed. Moreover these groups
assemble regularly for long periods of time to accomplish a wide variety of tasks.
Many events occur simultaneously, teachers must react often and immediately
t circumstances, and the course of events is frequently unpredictable. Teaching
in such settings requires a highly developed ability to manage events.
( Doyle, 1 990, p. 350)
This phase of research added the manageri al and organizational aspect of
teachers' classroom work to the view of pedagogy (Arends, 1 994). I t
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PEDAGOGY: WHAT DO WE KNOW? 5
highlighted how teachers orchestrate a complex situation, oversee numerous
events and manage multiple activities. This broader view of pedagogy enables
the classroom to be viewed as an 'activity system', which teachers need to
establish and manage. Different profiles of classroom activities can be seen,
and may relate to what had previously been called different 'teaching meth­
ods' (for which a convincing categorization has yet to be created) . Classroom
activities are constructed from the key elements (shown in Figure 1 . 1 ) . The
most important element i n determining the coherence of an activity i s its
goals: successful managers of activities communicate a clear programme of
action for participants ( Doyle, 1 984) .
Brophy, an experienced analyst of teachers and teaching, has suggested
that the knowledge base of how teachers plan and manage multiple learn­
ing tasks and complex activities is still under construction ( Brophy, 1 992) .
I t appears, from many accounts, that when experienced teachers pl an their
work they focus on the activity and the content rather than using a rational
and linear model of beginning with goals, moving through planned actions
towards anticipated outcomes. In the complexity of a live classroom, the
direction can be more one of actions leading directly to outcomes before the
goals have been considered. In this way the goals become symbols of, and
j ustifications for, what has already been achieved.
Teachers display significant differences in how they cope with this com­
plex environment. They differ i n their responses to the simultaneous events,
with their multi-faceted nature, and the need for immediate action.
Experienced teachers monitor and interpret such events and demands in
greater detail - and with more insight and understanding - than do their less
experienced colleagues: they respond effortlessly and fluidly ( Sabers et al. ,
Fig. 1.1 Elements in teaching activities
pacmg
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6 UNDERSTANDING PEDAGOGY
199 1 ) . Experienced teachers' understanding of classroom processes is more
connected and complex. For example, they do not separate issues of class­
room management from pedagogy i n the way that beginner teachers do
( Copeland et at., 1 994) . Teachers who actively accept the complexity of the
classroom orchestrate events in their classes more successfully than those who
do not ( Doyle, 1 977) . All teachers, however, need to be able to handle uncer­
tainty in the classroom setting ( Floden and Buchmann, 1 993) .
Recognition of the influence of the classroom context has enhanced our
understanding of classroom change. Although classrooms are very dynamic,
they can also be very resistant to change. Simple interventions, such as adding
a specific teacher skill or changing the content of the curriculum, often show
little lasting impact. It even remains an open question whether major inter­
ventions, such as the introduction of new technology, will significantly change
classroom practice ( Cuban, 1 993) .
We have also come to understand two additional ways in which context
has influence. First, research into school differences and the analysis of how
school learning differs from learning in other contexts ( Resnick, 1 987) have
led to a recognition that the school context can influence pedagogy (Talbert
et al., 1 993) . We now understand more about how, for example, the
secondary school setting - with its age-graded, subj ect-centred, self-contained
classrooms - has a powerful and seemingly enduring effect on the nature of
its pedagogy. The generation of different metaphors of schooling; as 'gardens
in which children grow'; 'factories in which children are made' and 'hospi­
tals in which children are cured of their ignorance' il lustrates the different
conceptions of schooling and hence the different contexts for learning that
can be created.
Second, recognition that the content of what is taught influences how it
is taught has led to a greater focus on teachers' knowledge of subj ect-mat­
ter. Since, however, the subj ect-matter of schools will change i n var ious ways,
such knowledge must be dynamic and context-dependent rather than static.
According to Carlsen ( 1 99 1 ) , teachers hold multiple representations of sub­
ject concepts and, in their teaching, select those based on their understand­
ing of the context of instruction and their prior knowledge of what is likely
to be effective for particular learners. So researchers into pedagogy not only
endeavour to investigate how teachers organize subj ect-matter in their own
minds, but are also interested in the teachers' ability to understand and apply
the subj ect-matter in different ways, according to the context of their classes,
the sequence of lessons, and their knowledge of the learning groups and indi­
viduals.
This phase of research, despite the influence of the most recent studies,
is still focused on a limited view of pedagogy and on only one of its forms:
instruction. The learner and the process of learning remain relatively
unexamined.
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Phase 3: A focus on teaching and learning
Recent developments in our understanding of cognition and meta-cognition
have influenced the conceptualization of pedagogy. In part, this reflects our
increased awareness of the need to think of learners as active constructors
of meaning. Bruner ( 1 996) has identified dominant models of learners which
have held sway i n our times, and has spelled out the implications of each
model for pedagogy. He puts forward two models which reflect recent
research into cognition:
1. Seeing children as thinkers, constructing a model of the world to help them
construe their own experience. The model considers what children think
and how they arrive at what they believe. Pedagogy i s to help the child under­
stand better, more powerfully: this i s fostered through discussion and collabo­
ration, the process of sharing knowledge in an unthreatening community. Truths
are the product of evidence, argument and construction rather than of
authority.
2. Seeing children as knowledgeable, testing whether hypotheses stand up in the
face of evidence, interpretation and existing knowledge. Teaching helps children
grasp the distinction between personal knowledge, on the one side, and 'objec­
tive' knowledge (what is taken to be known within the culture) on the other.
'This perspective holds that there is something special about "talking" to
authors, now dead but alive in their ancient texts - so long as the objective of
the encounter is not worship but discourse and "going meta" on thoughts about
the past.' ( Bruner, 1996, p. 62).
The implications for pedagogy of these two models are that they shift the
focus from simply trying to transmit information to a group of individual
learners to the process of building a community of learners engaged in the
generation and evaluation of knowledge and in which the teacher makes
explicit her knowledge at the same time as promoting access to other sources.
The first model noted above, which identifies children as thinkers, focuses
on sharing knowledge within the discourse of a particular community. It links
us to another understanding in cognition, that what is learned relates strongly
to the situation i n which it is learned. 'Situations might be said to co-pro­
duce knowledge through activity' ( Brown et al., 1 989, p. 32) . This view has
led to an approach - sometimes called 'cognitive apprenticeship' - which
makes deliberate use of the social context in which knowledge can become
an authentic tool. It sees learning as being embedded in the activity of par­
ticular environments. This argument challenges the idea that abstract or pro­
cedural knowledge can be taught for later application in another situation.
Indeed Cox ( 1 997) argues that unless learners are building up their under­
standing of situations - through understanding the variations between them
- knowledge learned in one context is unlikely to pass to any other.
Other studies have demonstrated that effective learners may be proactive
in their metacognitions - their thinking about their thinking - and their own
process of learning. These effective learners may have a more fluent under-
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8 UNDERSTANDING PEDAGOGY
standing of their own learning than others and may possess the abi l ity to
'talk themselves through' difficulties which arise.
Knowledge about the promotion of such effective learning has been
described i n relation to four themes: active learning, collaborative learning,
learner responsibi l ity, and meta-learning or learning about learning (Watkins
et ai., 1 996) . Not all of this is new; the first three of these themes were well
represented in a fifty year old publication ( Miel and Wiles, 1 949) . However
the fourth theme adds a potentially transforming element to the conceptual­
ization of pedagogy. The intention would be to eliminate the likelihood of
hearing from a student 'It's not that I haven't learned much, it's just that I
don't really understand what I' m doing' ( Rudduck et at., 1 995) . An explicit
pedagogical focus on the learning process advances the learner's conceptions
of learning, improves what they learn and increases the likelihood that they
will see themselves as active agents in learning, as findings have demonstrated
from pre-school onwards ( Pramling, 1 990) .
Phase 4: Current views of pedagogy
At this point in the development of the research literature on pedagogy, a
suitably complex model is in sight. On the one hand it offers an increasingly
integrated conceptualization which specifies relations between its elements:
the teacher, the classroom or other context, content, the view of learning and
learning about learning. Such a model draws attention to the creation of
learning communities in which knowledge is actively co-constructed, and in
which the focus of learning is sometimes learning itself. This model of ped­
agogy would also be increasingly differentiated by details of context, con­
tent, age and stage of learner, purposes, and so on.
Such a model does not offer simple prescriptions for action but it does
provide guidelines for desired outcomes. Rather than suggest a simple linear
causal chain, which is unlikely to explain the links between teaching and
learning, it recognizes that influences are often partial and can be recipro­
cal. Di fferent versions of pedagogy may be best understood as different clus­
ters of relations between the elements of the model.
Given that such a model reflects mainly the views of researchers and aca­
demics, it is now important to ask how other people's knowledge of peda­
gogy compares with this picture. In what ways might the perspective of
teachers be similar to, and different from, this model and how might this be
explained?
PRACTITIONERS' VIEWS OF PEDAGOGY
What is the view of the teacher - the everyday pedagogue? McNamara ( 1 99 1 )
calls this view 'vernacular pedagogy'. It would be reasonable to expect to
find some di fferences from and some similarities to the formal models that
we have discussed, since researchers and teachers - although seeing pedagogy
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PEDAGOGY: WHAT DO WE KNOW
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9
from different standpoints - are both influenced by the same public modes
of thinking about teaching and learning.
Teachers sometimes talk about 'teacher styles' in much the same way as
researchers did. In their everyday work, many teachers perceive their style
as very personal. Without an agreed framework in which teaching can be
discussed, teachers may simply describe their approach in terms of a con­
trast with the style which they attribute to others. So the simplified bi-polar
concepts such as formal-informal are likely to be found in their conversa­
tions. Jackson ( 1 977) has described this as teachers 'thinking in twos', and
has suggested that the phenomenon reflects teachers' response to the com­
plex but fragmented context in which they work. (This certainly seems a
valid observation of occasions when a school staff discusses ideas for change
when the speed of creating coalitions for and against a proposal can be
breathtaking. )
When asked about the qualities of a good teacher, teachers have used up
to thirty important and distinct categories. However, the relative frequencies
in their choice is illuminating: beginner teachers' views seem to reflect 'unre­
alistic optimism' (Weinstein, 1 989) , with high priority given to the teacher­
pupil relationship and to pupil self-esteem, in contrast to the views of
experienced teachers which are more likely to emphasize organization and
creativity rather than personal qualities such as patience or effort. Here the
experienced teacher's perspective resonates with the trend noted in our ear­
lier discussion of the research literature - bringing the classroom context and
its demands into the picture.
Johnston ( 1 990) found that when he interviewed teachers about their work,
his respondents cited the following elements: grouping of pupils; physical and
social climate; learning centres and activities; classroom management; pupil
evaluation; teacher morale; pupil achievement; instructional practices; teacher
planning; and the teacher/student relationship. This list conveys well teachers'
awareness of the multidimensional nature of classroom life.
Concern about time is a dominant theme in teachers' tal k about manage­
ment of the classroom, even for those teaching pre-school and primary
classes. The amount and pace of lesson content is the most pervasive time­
related issue. Here, again, the influence of the context can be seen. A com­
mon response by teachers is to orchestrate a situation in which teacher-led
activities play the dominant role and student-centred activities the minor role
( Langer and Applebee, 1 988) . Concern about time translates to a concern
about 'covering the curriculum', in which teachers focus on their own teach­
ing activity rather than on the learning activity of their students.
Teachers' conceptions of teaching have more recently been elicited.
Samuelowicz and Bain ( 1 992) have located these conceptions on an ordered
continuum:
1 . Imparting information
2. Transmitting knowledge
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1 0 UNDERSTANDING PEDAGOGY
3. Facilitating understanding
4. Changing students' conceptions
5. Supporting student learning.
These conceptions represent different profiles on five dimensions: the learn­
ing outcome, the view of knowledge, the role of students' knowledge, the
degree of reciprocation, and the control of content. There is a similar con­
tinuum to be found i n a study of teachers' views of science learning ( Roth,
1 987) . Here, approaches to pedagogy were grouped within three categories
of teachers: fact acquisition teachers; content understanding teachers; and
conceptual development teachers.
Teachers' conceptions of teaching are an important focus. There is some
evidence that they relate significantly to the teaching strategies which a
teacher operates in the classroom (Trigwell and Prosser, 1 996) . This relation
should not be taken for granted, however, since there are many occasions
when human rhetoric does not match human action in a particular context.
Experienced teachers view their educational purpose as increasing the qual­
ity of students' thinking, engaging them in the processes of learning, and
improving their disposition towards learning ( Copeland et at. , 1 994) . Schools
which focus predominantly on learning are more successful ( Rosenholtz,
1 99 1 ) . Indeed, this is one of the lessons from the set of case studies under­
taken by the National Commission on Education ( NCE, 1 996) as well as
from the literature on school effectiveness and school improvement
( Mortimore, 1 998) .
The central question i n understanding vernacular views of pedagogy might
be: ' How do teachers' views of learning relate to their views of teaching? '
I n seeking to answer such a question, we cannot take for granted what i s
meant by 'learning'; a variety of views exists. Two decades of studies have
consistently identified five broad categories of what people generally assume
'learning' to mean ( Saljn, 1 979; Marton et at., 1 993) :
A. Getting more knowledge
B. Memorizing and reproducing
C. Acquiring and applying procedures
D. Making sense or meaning
E. Personal change.
Before tracing the use of these categories further, we need to recognize that
such everyday conceptions are open to critical analysis i n the light of what is
known in the formal literature about learning. For example, a distinction
between knowledge and meaning may be ill usory. The learning of 'simple fac­
tual knowledge' requires learners actively to construct meaning, even when
those around them may view such meanings as perfectly obvious. Similarly in
areas which, for the great maj ority, are unproblematic (such as learning to
read) , children who experience difficulty illustrate that learning may re-quire
significant personal change in their view of themselves and their relations
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PEDAGOGY: WHAT DO WE KNOW
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1 1
with parents, siblings or peers. Aspects of self, social relations and purpose
all influence the learning i n hand, and may need to be given attention for
the best results.
If the distinctions between these five different views of learning do not
stand up to critical scrutiny, it would be inappropriate to adopt the idea that
they indicate distinct learning goals which each match distinct pedagogies.
The common idea that we can teach facts first by one method ( usually
'telling') and then promote understanding by another method has been chal­
lenged. Facts cannot exist without understanding so any pedagogy based on
the principle that it is helpful to 'learn the basics first' may be wrong. It may
be better to regard the conceptions of learning which are first i n the list as
more incomplete, and the latter as more complete. This way of conceptual­
izing can be paralleled by also identifying more incomplete or more com­
plete approaches to pedagogy. Incomplete methods of teaching may
sometimes achieve the lower order goals, but they do so on the assumption
that the higher order processes of making meaning and handling personal
change are irrelevant. This is an unsafe assumption on many occasions and
can disadvantage particular groups of learners. It is only a safe assumption
when the higher order processes have already been established with learners.
So what of the relations between teachers' conceptions of teaching and
their conceptions of learning? Trigwell and Prosser ( 1 996) offer two inter­
esting findings. First, those teachers who saw a strong connection between
pedagogy and learning were those who viewed teaching as mainly transmit­
ting the syllabus and learning as accumulating knowledge i n order to satisfy
external demands. The adoption of simple conceptions allowed a high degree
of agreement. However, in another sense, the connection is weak since teach­
ers with these views had distinct difficulty i n focusing on learning. Second,
those teachers with more sophisticated conceptions saw teaching and learn­
ing as di fferent but inextricably linked processes. Although such teachers held
more sophisticated conceptions of learning, they sometimes adopted lower
level approaches to teaching - whereas the teachers with simpler conceptions
of learning rarely adopted higher level approaches.
Both these findings can be interpreted as teachers' simplifying the rela­
tionship between pedagogy and learning. In the first case, many teachers
adopt lower-order views of teaching in response to, for example, examina­
tion pressures and organizational constraints. They simplify the goals in order
to cope with the demands. In the second case, teachers simplify practice in
order to cope with the complexity of the classroom. Teachers are aware of
this tendency to simplification for, although some describe their ideal as using
pupil-centred methods, they cite the everyday constraints of the classroom
as being the reasons for their actual choice of methods ( Chandra, 1 987) .
Sometimes teachers will offer the rationale that students prefer directive
teaching although there is little or no direct evidence of such a preference
( Larsson, 1 983) . Pupils may indeed have their own strategies for simplifying
classroom demands and, especially, may work to reduce any ambiguity in
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1 2 UNDERSTANDING PEDAGOGY
tasks in which they will be assessed ( Doyle, 1 983) . Recent research, how­
ever, suggests that pupils' general preferences are for active and collabora­
tive work which, although it is less frequently used in classrooms, is seen as
more likely to lead to learning ( Hughes, 1 997) .
So, at the end of thi s section, we have identified some possible tensions
between the formal and the vernacular views of pedagogy. While the trend
amongst writers has been moving towards a model which supports the active
construction of meaning and endeavours to help learners learn about learn­
ing, we have also seen that teachers may adopt a simplified model of prac­
tice in the face of contextual constraints.
DIFFERENT VIEWS, DIFFERENT COMPLEXITY
Roland Barth ( 1 997) has suggested that the researcher's knowledge base is
perhaps a mile wide and an inch deep in contrast to that of the classroom
practitioner's which is an inch wide and a mile deep. This comment helps
identify a key difference between an academic considering pedagogy and a
practitioner doing l i kewise. The former strives to gain a multi-contextual
view so as to construct an overall model. In contrast, the practitioner is con­
cerned with the particular features of his or her context and in its daily
rhythms. The cross-situation complexity which the researcher aims to create
in explanatory models is of a different nature to the within-situation com­
plexity which the practitioner creates. The implications for action may also
differ in important ways with the researcher seeking a long-term indirect
impact, while the practitioner is faced with the need for short-term immedi­
ate action. These poi nts may be i llustrated diagrammatically
i
n Figure 1 . 2.
Thus the relationship between these two parties is not a direct exchange of
similar forms of knowledge about pedagogy. When engaged in work together
they are not trading in exactly the same currency: research and practice sim­
ply do not stand on the same logical footing. Researchers try to use theories
to generate insight into problems, not as solution banks. They offer frame­
works and models to the practitioner in the hope of helping them - in the
light of the broader picture they can provide - to frame a problem, review
their current practice and challenge themselves to extend their repertoire.
Practitioners will always have a role to play in the selection and translation
high complexity with
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short-term
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mmed
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Fig. 1 .2 Practitioner and researcher knowledge
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h
i
gh complex
i
ty across s
i
tuat
i
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long-term
i
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PEDAGOGY: WHAT DO WE KNOW
?
1 3
of fr amewor ks and models to specific contexts. They need to challenge
r esearcher s on the validity of their models. Seen in this light the r elationship
between r esear cher s and pr actitioner s should be pr oductive and able to move
beyond some of the archetypal misunderstandings, such as teacher s cr iticiz­
ing academics for not being 'pr actical' (or its inverse 'teaching me to suck
eggs') and academics becoming disappointed that their proposals wer e either
r ej ected or var ied beyond their r ecognition.
In our experience, teacher s welcome collaboration with people who will
wor k as har d to understand classroom events as the teacher s do to conduct
them. This demands r ecognition that teacher s possess important expertise
and that professional learning is an adaptive process. This pr ocess is long­
ter m and is cr itically influenced by contextual factor s in the school and local
area. At its best, professional development helps teachers to under stand their
school and to contr ibute to school-based impr ovement efforts. In such under ­
takings the r esearcher can help the professional to enhance their own knowl­
edge-gener ation capacities. This style of r elationship has sometimes been
characterized as one of 'critical friend' though this ter m is not always clear ly
understood: some seem only to r ead the wor d 'cr itical' while other s seem
only to comprehend the wor d ' fr iend'.
Having compared the for mal and the vernacular views of pedagogy and
discussed the cr iter ia for profitable exchange, we tur n to r ecognize other
player s in the stor y.
POLICY AND PEDAGOGY
Recent decades have seen politicians and policy-maker s develop an increased
interest in the details of pedagogy. This tr end began some thirty year s ago
with the publication of the Plowden Repor t ( Centr al Advisory Council,
1 967) , nowadays r egarded as the r epor t which gave birth to the tr aditional­
progressive distinction in policy and public debate. However, cur r ent per ­
ceptions that a r omantic view of social r elations in small groups infor med
the r ecommendations is not accur ate. Rather, the Repor t's suggested increase
in group wor k was actually a measur e designed to help teachers trying to
r each all their childr en:
Sharing out the teacher's time is a major problem. Only seven or eight minutes
a day would be available for each child if all teaching were individual. Teachers
therefore have to economise by teaching together a small group of children at
the same stage (paras. 754 -5)
A polar ized view of teaching styles can still be detected in policy debates and
media r eports but a 1 986 House of Commons Select Committee noted:
we hope the simple argument between styles, whether formal or informal, indi­
vidual or class teaching, child-centred or subject-centred, can be left behind: none
is sufficient by itself.
(House of Commons Science and Arts Committee, 1986, p. 1 15)
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14 UNDERSTANDING PEDAGOGY
Since 1 986, the attitudes of politicians have changed. Using the rhetoric of
'secret gardens' and the call for increased financial accountability i n public
services, governments have promoted new forms of monitoring and control.
In the context of reducing levels of trust i n Britain ( Inglehart, 1 990, pp. 35
and 438 ) , an additional fear has been added to the occupational hazards of
teaching - the fear of public censure and shame. So although as recently as
1 991 a Secretary of State could state that 'questions about how to teach are
not for government to determine' ( Cl arke, 199 1 ) the State's influence on
classroom practice has been pursued through a variety of routes. Without
direct legislation, impact on pedagogy has come though government agen­
cies, their formal inspection frameworks and models of teacher competence.
These have been supported by less formal modes of opinion-forming through
direct and indirectly attributable media coverage.
Recent policy-makers have focused on actions which, they claim, achieve
results. Policy-makers thus need to simplify pedagogy if they are to take such
a role. In so doing they appear to have reverted to a nineteenth-century model
which centred on the 'object lesson' - a set piece deemed to have universal
appl ication. This stance has created an interesting set of relations between
teachers, academics and pol icy-makers themselves ( see Figure 1 . 3) .
The dynamics i n this triangle are sometimes characterized by critical
friendship, with acceptance of different perspectives, open communication
and equal respect. On other occasions, practitioners feel treated as func­
tionaries and the stance of policy-makers towards teachers is one of a 'hos­
tile witness' . At the same time, researchers have been accused of acting like
'collusive lovers' towards the teaching force.
Mi nisters have only engaged i n proffering pedagogical advice i n recent
times but local advisers, trainers and writers have done so for many years.
Their roles and careers elicit and encourage such behaviour. However, the
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Fig. 1 .3 Practitioner, researcher and policy-maker knowledge
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PEDAGOGY: WHAT DO WE KNOW
?
1 5
impact of simple advice for all situations is often short-lived since it encoun­
ter s powerful featur es of the school and classr oom system:
- prescri ptions which are significantly less complex than the prevailing practice
have decreasing effects, since they do not embed into the continuing practice of
the context;
- prescriptions are always modified and interpreted to fit the local conditions
and culture, thus maintaining local effects. For example when we asked twenty
science teachers to exchange their 'Schemes of Work' their major realization was
that they were not al l teaching the same National Curriculum;
- prescriptions often neglect teachers' roles as professionals able to select and
adapt methods according to their reading of the needs: instead they cast teach­
ers in the role of functionaries, with consequent damage to professional morale;
- the imposition of prescriptions on human systems has some predictably neg­
ative effects: causing teachers to become more prescriptive or controlling and
this can lead to increasing inequalities in the system's performance;
- prescriptions do not carry a message of, or invitation to, continued learning
in the future.
Since pr escr iptions are a simplification, it is no sur pr ise that they gener ally
embody a partial, mechanical, view of learning. They r isk the adoption of a
par ticular view, a 'folk pedagogy', which Br uner ( 1 996) identifies as pr oba­
bly the most common pr actice today. This is the view that children lear n
only from didactic exposur e. It incorpor ates the belief that pupils should be
pr esented with facts, pr i nciples and r ules of action. These ar e to be lear ned,
remember ed and then applied. Pupils are assumed not to 'know' about
the topic; knowing can be conveyed by telling; and the lear ner 's mind is
passIve.
Its principal appeal is that it purports to offer a clear specification of j ust what
it i s that is to be learned and, equally questionable, that it suggests standards
for assessing its achievement. More than any other folk theory it has spawned
objective testing in its myriad guises. ( Bruner, 1 996, p. 55)
I t remains to be seen what long-ter m effects such a pedagogical approach
will have.
CONCLUDING COMMENTS
In this opening chapter, we have discussed some of the gener al issues which
influence our cur r ent conceptions of pedagogy. We have noted how peda­
gogy has been under stood at di fferent per iods of histor y in increasingly com­
plex ways. We have r ecognized that 'expert' teacher s display gr eat complexity
in their handling of classr oom processes, although we have also dr awn atten­
tion to the tendency to simpli fy approaches to teaching in r esponse to the
constr aints and demands of the situation.
We hope that r eader s will be interested to follow these and other issues
thr ough the chapters of this volume, and that the importance of complexity
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1 6 UNDERSTANDING PEDAGOGY
and context will be kept in mind. We believe that they are necessary antidotes
to over-simple orthodoxies.
Life continues to change at an increasingly fast pace. The global knowl­
edge base i s growing exponentially and the social fabric of our societies is
being altered by the massive expansion of communications. Pedagogy must
change to keep up with these developments. It must seek to engage those
who would otherwise be excluded. It must also support all learners to gen­
erate knowledge and to learn what to do when faced with uncertainty.
The nature of work is also changing. There are now fewer of the manual
and unskilled jobs which had previously been taken by many males.
Individuals in employment need to possess the skills to work well with oth­
ers and to go on learning, as well as having high levels of l i teracy and numer­
acy. An increasing proportion of employees will need to be skilled in the use
of information technology. Since multi-national companies can easily locate
in areas where skilled work forces are available more cheaply, part of the
response i n this post-industrial era is to move from high-volume to high­
value production, and to develop the requisite skills. Educators, j ust as they
had to respond to the demands of industrial revolution, are now being
required to respond to all the implications of modern life. Their learning
curve is increasingly steep - social, technological, economic, environmental
and political changes are all underway (Watkins, 1 997) .
Arguments are frequently made that i f educational standards in a country
are perceived to be low, industries may move elsewhere thus causing a detri­
mental effect on the country's economy. In the richer nations there is cur­
rently much political pressure on educational systems to 'raise academic
standards'. If maintaining employment requires high educational standards,
then governments will try to ensure that those standards are attained and
subsequently maintained. International league tables of educational perfor­
mance make it relatively easy for crude comparisons to be made - especially
by those unaware of their methodological difficulties (Bracey, 1 998) .
In the landscape of future learning, we believe that formal organizations
for learning - such as schools - will increasingly be seen as but one element.
Such bodies may be called on to justify their special position, which may be
an advance on them being treated as scapegoat or saviour in turns. This
greater expectation may be met if the major contribution of schools is to
enhancing quality and not j ust quantity. In such a fast-moving scenario,
schools and colleges need to help citizens learn about their learning in al l
contexts of their lives so as to enhance a state of self-efficacy.
For this to happen, schools and colleges have to function more like learn­
ing organizations than l i ke learning factories. Information and communica­
tions technology will need to play its part in accessing information,
promoting di alogue and creating new communities for co-constructing
knowledge. Teachers wi l l be expected to possess a full repertoire of peda­
gogic options in order to create high-achieving environments for the maxi­
mum number of diverse learners. Only in such a fashion will our definition
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PEDAGOGY: WHAT DO WE KNOW
?
1 7
of pedagogy - 'any conscious activity by one person designed to enhance
learning in another' - remain suitably vibrant and become suitably distrib­
uted for a post-industrial context.
The following chapters will explore, at a more detailed level, a number of
issues to do with the pedagogy currently employed in different phases of edu­
cation. Our focus on pedagogy in different educational settings - what it has
been, is and might be - is surely long overdue.
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1

Pedagogy: What Do We Know ?
Chris Watkins and Peter Mortimore

The aim of this chapter is to highlight a number of issues in the use of the term pedagogy and to outline some of the ways in which the word is used. We will discuss the research literature on pedagogy and suggest there is a trend amongst writers towards an increased recognition of the complexity of pedagogical activity. We a lso detect an increasing awareness of the need to take into account the context in which pedagogy occurs. We will compare the views of some of these academic writers with those of practitioners and, finally, consider public and policy-makers' apparent views about pedagogy. In writing this book we are conscious that a large number of issues will be raised and only a few resolved. We hope, however, that we will contribute to an important debate about different approaches to teaching and, ulti­ mately, to ways of improving learning for learners of all ages. PEDAGOGY: A CONTESTED TERM The term pedagogy is seldom used in English writing about education. Where writers have used the term, they have often been criticized for using an ill­ defined and poorly developed idea. We do not recognize this criticism as fair. Rather, we recognize that, as with other complex ideas, pedagogy will be dif­ ficult to define - even in the formal literature on the subject. The bound­ aries of the concept may seem unclear, but the ways in which different writers have drawn them may itself be instructive. 'Pedagogy', derived from French and Latin adaptations of the Greek [nata, nato (boy) + aywyoa (leader)], literally means a man having oversight of a child, or an attendant leading a boy to schoo!. This meaning is now obso­ lete. Moreover, the gendering, appropriate in ancient Greece - where the for­ mal education of girls was unusual - is inappropriate for modern times. The limitations of the literal meaning of the term have encouraged leading con­ temporary writers to invent broader terms, such as 'andragogy', for adult education (Knowles, 19 8 0 ) . Modern day usage of the term 'pedagogy' is more common in other European countries, in particular, in French, German and Russian-speaking academic communities, than in English-speaking ones. In continental Europe,

the brevity of this phrase may create its own difficulty. . Even in France. as well as to the institutional forms that serve to facilitate society's and the individual's pedagogic aims' (Marton and Booth. inadvertently excluding the arts because we refer directly to the sciences. The boundaries of ped­ agogy in mainland Europe. In this chap­ ter. 1 994. I n the context o f these cultural differences. 1 4 7 ) . complexity and chaos and recognizing the role of creativity and social construction in knowledge-creation (Fleck. however. on an experimental methodology. A scan of Zeitschrift fur Padagogik. p. Simon locates the reason for this neglect in the outlook of the dominant public schools and their traditional concern with character formation rather than with intellectual development. In order to overcome this prob­ lem. 1986). We believe that it is help1 We welcome. there have been accusations o f 'neglect o f pedagogical studies i n England' (Simon. Brief definitions of pedagogy are offered from time to time. an approach suggested by writers who recognize uncertainty and the l imits of predictability (McDonald. art or principles of pedagogy' (Oxford Shorter English Dictionary. Academic awards in pedagogy are also common. However. 1 9 92. it appears. p. 1 99 3 ) . We a lso wish to draw attention to an alternative way of thinking about pedagogy which is neither science nor art: this is seeing pedagogy as a craft. In a similar way w e d o not wish t o define the term pedagogy in a way which stresses only the teacher's role and activity . ethics and aesthetics. A common example is 'the science of teaching'. however. since such a definition depends on the reader's assumptions about 'science' and their conceptions of 'teaching'. we wish to avoid an overly positivist view of science based. views of science embodying uncertainty. As one Swedish academic notes: 'Pedagogy as a discipline extends to the considera­ tion of the development of health and bodily fitness. 1 99 3 ) . relativity. university departments. Marland. 1 99 7. the formulation of 'laws' and a tech­ nical approach which portrays itself as independent of the prevailing social order. A more parsimonious explanation may be that the term has not found a sta ble working use amongst British educators. that few articles actually do focus on what to many British readers would be central: classroom teaching. 1935. the director of its Institut National de Recherche Pedagogique has described how the term is subject to changing connotations and pressures (Best.! We are anxious not to exclude other forms of understanding simply because of the definition we adopt. Latour and Woolgar. for example. a country which has taught pedagogy since 1 8 8 3 .this would be better described under the more limited term of didactics. a European journal seemingly addressing this area of work. 1 78 ) . as it would be. we will adopt an inclusive approach more like that which characterized the first appearance of the term 'pedagogics' in 1 8 64: 'the science. social and moral wel­ fare.2 UNDERSTANDING PEDAGOGY pedagogical institutes are to be found alongside. 1 9 8 8 ) . are defined very broadly. and within. shows.

We suggest four main phases. 'laissez-faire' (Lewin et al.. for . concerns about 'authoritarianism' and 'democracy' were reflected in studies of group leadership style. Such typifications have often reflected key concerns of their time. This conceptualization of pedagogy was simple in its attri­ bution of impact to a teacher's personal style. Interestingly. and can a lso integrate them into the whole by describing the relations between them. RESEARCH LITERATURE ON PEDAGOGY Conceptions of pedagogy have become more complex over time.PEDAGOGY: WHAT DO WE KNOW? 3 ful to our discussion to focus our attention on teaching but we a lso need to take the learner into account. we believe that we now know more of the different elements which are needed to compose an ade­ quate model. although the investigator added a third style. A common way to do so was to construct what are sometimes termed 'polarized typifi­ cations' of teachers. We consider that teachers and policy-makers are likely to view pedagogy in different ways. such studies have rarely been accompanied by advice a bout how any 'bad' pedagogue might be made 'good'! Perhaps the sole focus on the teacher helps to elicit derogatory connotations such as those of 'pedantry. Phase 1 : A focus on different types of teachers Early studies of teaching adopted a focus on the teacher's 'style'. The literature to which we will refer has been generated by academics. We will discuss such differences in perspective in later sections of this chapter. dogmatism and severity' which attach to the noun 'pedagogue' (Oxford Shorter English Dictionary. In other words. Thus the basic premise from which we wish to begin our definition of pedagogy is: 'any conscious activity by one per­ son designed to enhance learning in another'. By this we mean that our growing knowledge has simultaneously become both more differentiated and more integrated. Bennett. We recognize that this is not the common knowledge base of an everyday classroom prac­ titioner nor of an educational policy-maker. and is available through our access to for­ mal knowledge codified in l ibraries and world-wide databases. although it would be misleading to suggest that these phases represent a smooth progression towards greater under­ standing. Such a polarized categorization. reveals that the underlying pur­ pose of these exercises was to identify 'good' and 'bad' approaches. perhaps. 1 993). Polarized conceptions of teachers contin­ ued into some studies carried out in the 1 960s and 1 970s. 1 939). 1 946). A much-quoted study characterized approaches as being either 'authoritarian' or 'democratic'. working mainly in universities. for example. During the inter-war and post-war years. Other studies divided teachers according to whether they were ' integrative' or 'dominative' (Anderson and Brewer.

Phase 2: A focus on the contexts of teaching Research studies which adopted a detailed focus on life in the classroom established a more sophisticated approach to understanding the complex interactions of pupils and teachers. surveys were reveal­ ing that 'traditional' practice remained the dominant form of teaching in pri­ mary schools in the United Kingdom (Barker Lunn. and the course of events is frequently unpredictable. Many events occur simultaneously. It . A productive focus on pedagogy. 1 975) later collapsed twelve separate clusters into one 'infor­ mal-formal' dimension (Bennett. p. reflected some basic features of the classroom sit­ uation. having argued strongly against 'ill-defined dichotomies' (Bennett and Jordan. Similar evidence was presented in the USA ( Cuban. 1 98 7). for example. were a ble to analyse large data-sets. described the deta il of life in urban classrooms. Kounin's work. Later it became clear that prevalent modes of pedagogy depended on much more than the style of the teacher. 1 990. 393).4 UNDERSTANDING PEDAGOGY example. Doyle provides an overview of studies which have focused on classroom contexts: Classrooms are crowded and busy places in which groups of students who vary in interests and abilities must be organized and directed. should incorporate an additional recognition that teachers are influenced by their context. has remained influ­ ential for twenty years (Kounin. which also highlighted the complexities of classroom life. Such find­ ings illustrate both the potential and the limitations of correlational analy­ sis. 3 5 0 ) This phase of research added the managerial and organizational aspect of teachers' c lassroom work to the view of pedagogy (Arends. perhaps. They a lso demonstrate the limitations of a too-personal focus on the teacher. 1 9 84. Galton. Smith and Geoffrey's ( 1 968) research.000 teachers (Ryans. One such study applied multiple psychometric measures to a sample of over 6. Contrary to the received wisdom that classrooms h ad become 'progressive' and 'chi ld-centred'. together with an analysis that such constancy of approach could be identified over a number of decades and. Teaching in such settings requires a highly developed ability to manage events. 1 96 8). teachers must react often and immediately to circumstances. The move away from attempts to categorize significant features of peda­ gogy by polarized and over-simplistic descriptions of teachers' approaches coincided with the advent of studies which. therefore. 1 977). The study found a significant correlation between teachers receiving a uniformly h igh assessment of their classroom behaviour and the frequency of their involvement in avocational (non-work) activities (p. 1 976). 1 994). 1 9 84). with the development of main­ frame computers. ( Doyle. Moreover these groups assemble regularly for long periods of time to accomplish a wide variety of tasks.

Teachers display significant differences in how they cope with this com­ plex environment. from many accounts. which teachers need to establish and manage.and with more insight and understanding . They differ in their responses to the simultaneous events. has suggested that the knowledge base of how teachers plan and manage multiple learn­ ing tasks and complex activities is still under construction (Brophy. oversee numerous events and manage multiple activities. with their multi-faceted nature. the direction can be more one of actions leading directly to outcomes before the goals have been considered. 1 9 84). 1. pacmg Fig.PEDAGOGY: WHAT DO WE KNOW? 5 highlighted how teachers orchestrate a complex situation.than do their less experienced colleagues: they respond effortlessly and fluidly (Sabers et al. 1 ) . Experienced teachers monitor and interpret such events and demands in greater detail .1 Elements in teaching activities . In the complexity of a live classroom. and the need for immediate action. an experienced analyst of teachers and teaching. 1 992). that when experienced teachers plan their work they focus on the activity and the content rather than using a rational and linear model of beginning with goals. It appears.. The most important element in determining the coherence of an activity is its goals: successful managers of activities communicate a clear programme of action for participants ( Doyle. Different profiles of classroom activities can be seen. moving through planned actions towards anticipated outcomes. Brophy. and j ustifications for. and may relate to what had previously been called different 'teaching meth­ ods' (for which a convincing categorization has yet to be created ) . Classroom activities are constructed from the key elements (shown in Figure 1 . In this way the goals become symbols of. what has already been achieved. This broader view of pedagogy enables the classroom to be viewed as an 'activity system'.

We have also come t o understand two additional ways in which context has influence. 1 977). Since. the secondary school setting . such knowledge must be dynamic and context-dependent rather than static. research into school differences and the analysis of how school learning differs from learning in other contexts ( Resnick. We now understand more about how. the sequence of lessons. they can also be very resistant to change. despite the influence of the most recent studies. All teachers. however. Second. need to be able to handle uncer­ tainty in the classroom setting (Floden and Buchmann. 1 99 3 ) . as 'gardens in which children grow'. recognition that the content of what is taught influences how it is taught has led to a greater focus on teachers' knowledge of subject-mat­ ter.. for example. Teachers who actively accept the complexity of the classroom orchestrate events in their classes more successfully than those who do not ( Doyle. First. This phase of research. teachers hold multiple representations of sub­ ject concepts and. 'factories in which children are made' and 'hospi­ tals in which children are cured of their ignorance' illustrates the different conceptions of schooling and hence the different contexts for learning that can be created. According to Carlsen ( 1 99 1 ). 1 99 3 ) . The generation of different metaphors of schooling. For example. is still focused on a limited view of pedagogy and on only one of its forms: instruction. they do not separate issues of class­ room management from pedagogy in the way that beginner teachers do ( Copeland et at. such as adding a specific teacher skill or changing the content of the curriculum. So researchers into pedagogy not only endeavour to investigate how teachers organize subject-matter in their own minds. 1 994). the subj ect-matter of schools will change in var ious ways. select those based on their understand­ ing of the context of instruction and their prior knowledge of what is likely to be effective for particular learners. according to the context of their classes. . 1 99 3 ) . 1 9 8 7) have led to a recognition that the school context can influence pedagogy (Talbert et al. in their teaching.with its age-graded. subject-centred.6 UNDERSTANDING PEDAGOGY 199 1 ) . however. but are also interested in the teachers' ability to understand and apply the subject-matter in different ways. and their knowledge of the learning groups and indi­ viduals.has a powerful and seemingly enduring effect on the nature of its pedagogy. Experienced teachers' understanding of classroom processes is more connected and complex. The learner and the process of learning remain relatively unexamined. It even remains an open question whether major inter­ ventions. Simple interventions. Although classrooms are very dynamic. such as the introduction of new technology. often show little lasting impact. self-contained classrooms . Recognition o f the influence o f the classroom context h a s enhanced our understanding of classroom change. will significantly change classroom practice ( Cuban..

These effective learners may have a more fluent under- . and 'objec­ tive' knowledge (what is taken to be known within the culture) on the other.. The model considers what children think and how they arrive at what they believe. 32). interpretation and existing knowledge. p. 'This perspective holds that there is something special about "talking" to authors. 'Situations might be said to co-pro­ duce knowledge through activity' (Brown et al. argument and construction rather than of authority. Pedagogy i s to help the child under­ stand better. on the one side. the process of sharing knowledge in an unthreatening community.and their own process of learning. constructing a model of the world to help them construe their own experience.sometimes called 'cognitive apprenticeship' .so long as the objective of the encounter is not worship but discourse and "going meta" on thoughts about the past. The implications for pedagogy of these two models are that they shift the focus from simply trying to transmit information to a group of individual learners to the process of building a community of learners engaged in the generation and evaluation of knowledge and in which the teacher makes explicit her knowledge at the same time as promoting access to other sources. Truths are the product of evidence. He puts forward two models which reflect recent research into cognition: 1. this reflects our increased awareness of the need to think of learners as active constructors of meaning. focuses on sharing knowledge within the discourse of a particular community. 62). which identifies children as thinkers. Other studies have demonstrated that effective learners may be proactive in their metacognitions . In part. 2. that what is learned relates strongly to the situation in which it is learned. This view has led to an approach . It links us to another understanding in cognition. Indeed Cox ( 1 997) argues that unless learners are building up their under­ standing of situations . 1996. p.their thinking about their thinking .knowledge learned in one context is unlikely to pass to any other. 1 9 89. testing whether hypotheses stand up in the face of evidence.PEDAGOGY: WHAT DO WE KNOW? 7 Phase 3: A focus on teaching and learning Recent developments in our understanding of cognition and meta-cognition have influenced the conceptualization of pedagogy.' ( Bruner. and has spelled out the implications of each model for pedagogy. The first model noted above. Bruner ( 1 996) has identified dominant models of learners which have held sway in our times. This argument challenges the idea that abstract or pro­ cedural knowledge can be taught for later application in another situation. Seeing children as thinkers. Seeing children as knowledgeable. Teaching helps children grasp the distinction between personal knowledge. more powerfully: this i s fostered through discussion and collabo­ ration. It sees learning as being embedded in the activity of par­ ticular environments. now dead but alive in their ancient texts .which makes deliberate use of the social context in which knowledge can become an authentic tool.through understanding the variations between them .

and in which the focus of learning is sometimes learning itself. which is unlikely to explain the links between teaching and learning. 1 949). age and stage of learner. and so on. On the one hand it offers an increasingly integrated conceptualization which specifies relations between its elements: the teacher. In what ways might the perspective of teachers be similar to. this model and how might this be explained? PRACTITIONERS' VIEWS O F PEDAGOGY What is the view of the teacher . Not all of this is new.the everyday pedagogue ? McNamara ( 1 99 1 ) calls this view 'vernacular pedagogy'. 1 990).. The intention would be to eliminate the likelihood of hearing from a student 'It's not that I haven't learned much. 1 99 5 ) . it is now important to ask how other people's knowledge of peda­ gogy compares with this picture.although seeing pedagogy . as findings have demonstrated from pre-school onwards ( Pramling. D i fferent versions of pedagogy may be best understood as different clus­ ters of relations between the elements of the model.. improves what they learn and increases the likelihood that they will see themselves as active agents in learning. Such a model draws attention to the creation of learning communities in which knowledge is actively co-constructed. the view of learning and learning about learning. content. it recognizes that influences are often partial and can be recipro­ cal. the classroom or other context. it's just that I don't really understand what I'm doing' ( Rudduck et at. purposes. a suitably complex model is in sight. con­ tent. Given that such a model reflects mainly the views of researchers and aca­ demics.8 UNDERSTANDING PEDAGOGY standing of their own learning than others and may possess the ability to 'talk themselves through' difficulties which arise. Knowledge about the promotion of such effective learning has been described in relation to four themes: active learning. collaborative learning. This model of ped­ agogy would also be increasingly differentiated by details of context. and meta-learning or learning about learning (Watkins et ai. the first three of these themes were well represented in a fifty year old publication ( Miel and Wiles. and different from. However the fourth theme adds a potentially transforming element to the conceptual­ ization of pedagogy. Rather than suggest a simple linear causal chain. learner responsibility. since researchers and teachers . It would be reasonable to expect to find some differences from and some similarities to the formal models that we have discussed. 1 99 6 ) . Such a model does not offer simple prescriptions for action but it does provide guidelines for desired outcomes. An explicit pedagogical focus on the learning process advances the learner's conceptions of learning. Phase 4: Current views of pedagogy At this point in the development of the research literature on pedagogy.

teacher planning. teacher morale. teachers have used up to thirty important and distinct categories. 1 98 8 ) . Samuelowicz and Bain ( 1 992) have located these conceptions on an ordered continuum: 1 . Without an agreed framework in which teaching can be discussed. classroom management.bringing the classroom context and its demands into the picture. In their everyday work. instructional practices. the influence of the context can be seen.) When asked about the qualities of a good teacher. Concern about time translates to a concern about 'covering the curriculum'. Teachers' conceptions of teaching have more recently been elicited. pupil evaluation. Imparting information 2.PEDAGOGY: WHAT DO WE KNOW? 9 from different standpoints . A com­ mon response by teachers is to orchestrate a situation in which teacher-led activities play the dominant role and student-centred activities the minor role ( Langer and Applebee. physical and social climate. with high priority given to the teacher­ pupil relationship and to pupil self-esteem. So the simplified bi-polar concepts such as formal-informal are likely to be found in their conversa­ tions. even for those teaching pre-school and primary classes. Here. again. learning centres and activities. 1 98 9 ) . (This certainly seems a valid observation of occasions when a school staff discusses ideas for change when the speed of creating coalitions for and against a proposal can be breathtaking. Johnston ( 1 990) found that when he interviewed teachers about their work. and has suggested that the phenomenon reflects teachers' response to the com­ plex but fragmented context in which they work. pupil achievement. many teachers perceive their style as very personal. Jackson ( 1 977) has described this as teachers 'thinking in twos'. The amount and pace of lesson content is the most pervasive time­ related issue. in contrast to the views of experienced teachers which are more likely to emphasize organization and creativity rather than personal qualities such as patience or effort. and the teacher/student relationship. the relative frequencies in their choice is illuminating: beginner teachers' views seem to reflect 'unre­ alistic optimism' (Weinstein. This list conveys well teachers' awareness of the multidimensional nature of classroom life. in which teachers focus on their own teach­ ing activity rather than on the learning activity of their students. his respondents cited the following elements: grouping of pupils. Concern about time is a dominant theme in teachers' talk about manage­ ment of the classroom. However. teachers may simply describe their approach in terms of a con­ trast with the style which they attribute to others. Transmitting knowledge . Teachers sometimes talk about 'teacher styles' in much the same way as researchers did.are both influenced by the same public modes of thinking about teaching and learning. Here the experienced teacher's perspective resonates with the trend noted in our ear­ lier discussion of the research literature .

. Schools which focus predominantly on learning are more successful ( Rosenholtz. even when those around them may view such meanings as perfectly obvious. The learning of 'simple fac­ tual knowledge' requires learners actively to construct meaning. These conceptions represent different profiles on five dimensions: the learn­ ing outcome. Similarly in areas which. 1 996) as well as from the literature on school effectiveness and school improvement ( Mortimore. 1 99 1 ) . Experienced teachers view their educational purpose as increasing the qual­ ity of students' thinking. the degree of reciprocation. Getting more knowledge Memorizing and reproducing Acquiring and applying procedures Making sense or meaning Personal change. There is some evidence that they relate significantly to the teaching strategies which a teacher operates in the classroom (Trigwell and Prosser. content understanding teachers. Before tracing the use of these categories further. Supporting student learning. w e cannot take for granted what i s meant by 'learning'. the role of students' knowledge. Two decades o f studies have consistently identified five broad categories of what people generally assume 'learning' to mean ( Saljn..10 UNDERSTANDING PEDAGOGY 3. Here. a variety o f views exists. 1 99 8 ) . B. 1 979. 1 994). E. since there are many occasions when human rhetoric does not match human action in a particular context. This relation should not be taken for granted. The central question in understanding vernacular views o f pedagogy might be: ' How do teachers' views of learning relate to their views of teaching? ' I n seeking t o answer such a question. 1 99 6 ) . C. Marton et at. 1 9 8 7 ) . this is one of the lessons from the set of case studies under­ taken by the National Commission on Education ( NCE. for the great maj ority. engaging them in the processes of learning. and conceptual development teachers. Facilitating understanding 4. For example. There is a similar con­ tinuum to be found in a study of teachers' views of science learning ( Roth. a distinction between knowledge and meaning may be illusory. and the control of content. D. we need to recognize that such everyday conceptions are open to critical analysis in the light of what is known in the formal literature about learning. Indeed. the view of knowledge. approaches to pedagogy were grouped within three categories of teachers: fact acquisition teachers. Teachers' conceptions of teaching are an important focus. however. are unproblematic (such as learning to read). children who experience difficulty illustrate that learning may re-quire significant personal change in their view of themselves and their relations . 1 99 3 ) : A. Changing students' conceptions 5. and improving their disposition towards learning ( Copeland et at.

In the second case. In the first case. many teachers adopt lower-order views of teaching in response to. it would be inappropriate to adopt the idea that they indicate distinct learning goals which each match distinct pedagogies. they cite the everyday constraints of the classroom as being the reasons for their actual choice of methods ( Chandra. Second. those teachers who saw a strong connection between pedagogy and learning were those who viewed teaching as mainly transmit­ ting the syllabus and learning as accumulating knowledge in order to satisfy external demands. those teachers with more sophisticated conceptions saw teaching and learn­ ing as di fferent but inextricably linked processes. So what of the relations between teachers' conceptions of teaching and their conceptions of learning? Trigwell and Prosser ( 1 996) offer two inter­ esting findings. Facts cannot exist without understanding so any pedagogy based on the principle that it is helpful to 'learn the basics first' may be wrong.whereas the teachers with simpler conceptions of learning rarely adopted higher level approaches. and may need to be given attention for the best results. Sometimes teachers will offer the rationale that students prefer directive teaching although there is little or no direct evidence of such a preference ( Larsson. It may be better to regard the conceptions of learning which are first in the list as more incomplete. Incomplete methods of teaching may sometimes achieve the lower order goals. although some describe their ideal as using pupil-centred methods. It is only a safe assumption when the higher order processes have already been established with learners. Pupils may indeed have their own strategies for simplifying classroom demands and. Although such teachers held more sophisticated conceptions of learning. may work to reduce any ambiguity in . social relations and purpose all influence the learning in hand. The common idea that we can teach facts first by one method ( usually 'telling') and then promote understanding by another method has been chal­ lenged. This is an unsafe assumption on many occasions and can disadvantage particular groups of learners. for example. 1 9 8 7 ) . The adoption of simple conceptions allowed a high degree of agreement. 1 9 8 3 ) . but they do so on the assumption that the higher order processes of making meaning and handling personal change are irrelevant. siblings or peers. If the distinctions between these five different views of learning do not stand up to critical scrutiny. Both these findings can be interpreted as teachers' simplifying the rela­ tionship between pedagogy and learning. the connection is weak since teach­ ers with these views had distinct difficulty in focusing on learning. Teachers are aware of this tendency to simplification for. especially. Aspects of self. examina­ tion pressures and organizational constraints.PEDAGOGY: WHAT DO WE KNOW? 11 with parents. First. They simplify the goals in order to cope with the demands. However. This way of conceptual­ izing can be paralleled by also identifying more incomplete or more com­ plete approaches to pedagogy. in another sense. teachers simplify practice in order to cope with the complexity of the classroom. and the latter as more complete. they sometimes adopted lower level approaches to teaching .

In contrast. The former strives to gain a multi-contextual view so as to construct an overall model. how­ ever. While the trend amongst writers has been moving towards a model which supports the active construction of meaning and endeavours to help learners learn about learn­ ing.to frame a problem. So. at the end of this section. we have identified some possible tensions between the formal and the vernacular views of pedagogy. not as solution banks. When engaged in work together they are not trading in exactly the same currency: research and practice sim­ ply do not stand on the same logical footing.in the light of the broader picture they can provide . is seen as more likely to lead to learning (Hughes. DIFFERENT COMPLEXITY Roland Barth ( 1 997) has suggested that the researcher's knowledge base is perhaps a mile wide and an inch deep in contrast to that of the classroom practitioner's which is an inch wide and a mile deep.12 UNDERSTANDING PEDAGOGY tasks in which they will be assessed ( Doyle. review their current practice and challenge themselves to extend their repertoire. The implications for action may also differ in important ways with the researcher seeking a long-term indirect impact. although it is less frequently used in classrooms. Thus the relationship between these two parties is not a direct exchange of similar forms of knowledge about pedagogy. we have a lso seen that teachers may adopt a simplified model of prac­ tice in the face of contextual constraints. The cross-situation complexity which the researcher aims to create in explanatory models is of a different nature to the within-situation com­ plexity which the practitioner creates. Researchers try to use theories to generate insight into problems. 1 . the practitioner is con­ cerned with the particular features of his or her context and in its daily rhythms. DIFFERENT VIEWS. 1 997). suggests that pupils' general preferences are for active and collabora­ tive work which. Recent research.2 Practitioner and researcher knowledge .2 . while the practitioner is faced with the need for short-term immedi­ ate action. They offer frame­ works and models to the practitioner in the hope of helping them . Practitioners will always have a role to play in the selection and translation h igh complexity with i n s i tuat ion short-term i mmed i ate act i on h i gh complex i ty across s i tuat i ons long-term i nd i rect act i on Fig. This comment helps identify a key difference between an academic considering pedagogy and a practitioner doing likewise. These points may be i llustrated diagrammatically i n F igure 1 . 1 9 8 3 ) .

This tr end began some thirty year s ago with the publication of the Plowden Repor t ( Centr al Advisory Council. 1 967). This style of r elationship has sometimes been characterized as one of 'critical friend' though this ter m is not always clear ly understood: some seem only to r ead the wor d 'cr itical' while other s seem only to comprehend the wor d 'fr iend'. we tur n to r ecognize other player s in the stor y. the Repor t's suggested increase in group wor k was actually a measur e designed to help teachers trying to r each all their childr en: Sharing out the teacher's time is a major problem.PEDAGOGY: WHAT DO WE KNOW? 13 o f fr amewor ks and models to specific contexts. However. whether formal or informal. 754 -5 ) A polar ized view of teaching styles can still be detected in policy debates and media r eports but a 1 98 6 House of Commons Select Committee noted: we hope the simple argument between styles. teacher s welcome collaboration with people who will wor k as har d to understand classroom events as the teacher s do to conduct them. Having compared the for mal and the vernacular views of pedagogy and discussed the cr iter ia for profitable exchange. p. such as teacher s cr iticiz­ ing academics for not being 'pr actical' (or its inverse 'teaching me to suck eggs') and academics becoming disappointed that their proposals wer e either r ejected or var ied beyond their r ecognition. nowadays r egarded as the r epor t which gave birth to the tr aditional­ progressive distinction in policy and public debate. Teachers therefore have to economise by teaching together a small group of children at the same stage (paras. In our experience. In such under ­ takings the r esearcher can help the professional to enhance their own knowl­ edge-gener ation capacities. Seen in this light the r elationship between r esear cher s and pr actitioner s should be pr oductive and able to move beyond some of the archetypal misunderstandings. 1 1 5 ) . cur r ent per ­ ceptions that a r omantic view of social r elations in small groups infor med the r ecommendations is not accur ate. indi­ vidual or class teaching. professional development helps teachers to under stand their school and to contr ibute to school-based impr ovement efforts. 1986. child-centred or subject-centred. This demands r ecognition that teacher s possess important expertise and that professional learning is an adaptive process. (House of Commons Science and Arts Committee. They need to challenge r esearcher s on the validity of their models. can be left behind: none is sufficient by itself. POLICY AND PEDAGOGY Recent decades have seen politicians and policy-maker s develop an increased interest in the details of pedagogy. This pr ocess is long­ ter m and is cr itically influenced by contextual factor s in the school and local area. At its best. Rather. Only seven or eight minutes a day would be available for each child if all teaching were individual.

governments have promoted new forms of monitoring and control. le ity across situations l? f Iq ng:term indirect action 1 . their formal inspection frameworks and models of teacher competence. with acceptance of different perspectives. researchers have been accused of acting like 'collusive lovers' towards the teaching force. However. 1 . the high complexity n. they claim. Recent policy-makers have focused on actions which. Policy-makers thus need to simplify pedagogy if they are to take such a role.the fear of public censure and shame. So although as recently as 1 9 9 1 a Secretary of State could state that 'questions about how to teach are not for government to determine' (Clarke. In so doing they appear to have reverted to a nineteenth-century model which centred on the 'object lesson' . The dynamics i n this triangle are sometimes characterized b y critical friendship. Using the rhetoric of 'secret gardens' and the call for increased financial accountability in public services. open communication and equal respect. This stance has created an interesting set of relations between teachers. 1 99 1 ) the State's influence on classroom practice has been pursued through a variety of routes. 3 5 and 4 3 8 ).a set piece deemed to have universal application.0 low complexity for all situations short-term indirect action Fig.3 Practitioner. achieve results. 1 990.s ituation short-term immediate 'tiction w� high com.14 UNDERSTANDING PEDAGOGY Since 1 98 6 . At the same time. a n additional fear has been added to the occupational hazards of teaching . These have been supported by less formal modes of opinion-forming through direct and indirectly attributable media coverage. Their roles and careers elicit and encourage such behaviour. trainers and writers have done so for many years. impact on pedagogy has come though government agen­ cies. practitioners feel treated as func­ tionaries and the stance of policy-makers towards teachers is one of a 'hos­ tile witness'. academics and policy-makers themselves (see Figure 1 . pp. Without direct legislation. researcher and policy-maker knowledge . the attitudes of politicians have changed. 3 ) . Ministers have only engaged in proffering pedagogical advice in recent times but local advisers. On other occasions. In the context of reducing levels of trust in Britain ( Inglehart..

More than any other folk theory it has spawned objective testing in its myriad guises. It incorpor ates the belief that pupils should be pr esented with facts. mechanical. thus maintaining local effects. a 'folk pedagogy'. They r isk the adoption of a par ticular view. . although we have also dr awn atten­ tion to the tendency to simplify approaches to teaching in r esponse to the constr aints and demands of the situation. ( Bruner. which Br uner ( 1 996) identifies as pr oba­ bly the most common pr actice today. . with consequent damage to professional morale. We hope that r eader s will be interested to follow these and other issues thr ough th e chapters of this volume. pr i nciples and r ules of action. We have noted how peda­ gogy has been under stood at different per iods of histor y in increasingly com­ plex ways.prescriptions are always modified and interpreted to fit the local conditions and culture. 1 996. .prescriptions often neglect teachers' roles as professionals able to select and adapt methods according to their reading of the needs: instead they cast teach­ ers in the role of functionaries.prescriptions do not carry a message of.PEDAGOGY: WHAT DO WE KNOW? 15 impact of simple advice for all situations is often short-lived since it encoun­ ter s powerful featur es of the school and classr oom system: .the imposition of prescriptions on human systems has some predictably neg­ ative effects: causing teachers to become more prescriptive or controlling and this can lead to increasing inequalities in the system's performance. knowing can be conveyed by telling. We have r ecognized that 'expert' teacher s display gr eat complexity in their handling of classr oom processes. . Since pr escr iptions are a simplification. continued learning in the future. These ar e to be lear ned. For example when we asked twenty science teachers to exchange their 'Schemes of Work' their major realization was that they were not all teaching the same National Curriculum. and that the importance of complexity . remember ed and then applied. Pupils are assumed not to 'know' a bout the topic. and the lear ner 's mind is passIve. This is the view that children lear n only from didactic exposur e. view of learning. Its principal appeal is that it purports to offer a clear specification of j ust what it is that is to be learned and. equally questionable. since they do not embed into the continuing practice of the context. we have discussed some of the gener al issues which influence our curr ent conceptions of pedagogy. p. CONCLUDING COMMENTS In this opening chapter. that it suggests standards for assessing its achievement.prescriptions which are significantly less complex than the prevailing practice have decreasing effects. it is no sur pr ise that they gener ally embody a partial. or invitation to. 5 5 ) I t remains to b e seen what long-ter m effects such a pedagogical approach will have.

It must seek to engage those who would otherwise be excluded.such as schools .especially by those unaware of their methodological difficulties (Bracey. In such a fast-moving scenario. Such bodies may be called on to justify their special position.social. It must also support all learners to gen­ erate knowledge and to learn what to do when faced with uncertainty. Pedagogy must change to keep up with these developments.16 UNDERSTANDING PEDAGOGY and context will be kept in mind. industries may move elsewhere thus causing a detri­ mental effect on the country's economy. Their learning curve is increasingly steep . then governments will try to ensure that those standards are attained and subsequently maintained. which may be an advance on them being treated as scapegoat or saviour in turns. Educators. promoting dialogue and creating new communities for co-constructing knowledge. w e believe that formal organizations for learning . Only in such a fashion will our definition . 1 99 8 ) . The nature of work is also changing. Since multi-national companies can easily locate in areas where skilled work forces are available more cheaply. 1 997). There are now fewer of the manual and unskilled jobs which had previously been taken by many males. technological. We believe that they are necessary antidotes to over-simple orthodoxies. Individuals in employment need to possess the skills to work well with oth­ ers and to go on learning. as well as having high levels of literacy and numer­ acy. In the landscape o f future learning. The global knowl­ edge base is growing exponentially and the social fabric of our societies is being altered by the massive expansion of communications. part of the response in this post-industrial era is to move from high-volume to high­ value production. Life continues to change at an increasingly fast pace. schools and colleges have to function more like learn­ ing organizations than like learning factories. Information and communica­ tions technology will need to play its part in accessing information. For this to happen. are now being required to respond to all the implications of modern life. Arguments are frequently made that if educational standards in a country are perceived to be low. In the richer nations there is cur­ rently much political pressure on educational systems to 'raise academic standards'. schools and colleges need to help citizens learn about their learning in all contexts of their lives so as to enhance a state of self-efficacy. and to develop the requisite skills. If maintaining employment requires high educational standards. Teachers will be expected to possess a full repertoire of peda­ gogic options in order to create high-achieving environments for the maxi­ mum number of diverse learners. An increasing proportion of employees will need to be skilled in the use of information technology.will increasingly be seen as but one element. environmental and political changes are all underway (Watkins. This greater expectation may be met if the major contribution of schools is to enhancing quality and not just quantity. International league tables of educational perfor­ mance make it relatively easy for crude comparisons to be made . just as they had to respond to the demands of industrial revolution. economic.

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