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Selected Works

Learning, Curriculum and Life Politics: the selected works of Ivor F. Goodson

Coming to Curriculum

As the character of the school began to emerge I could see why the references from my curriculum tutors at the Institute of Education might have helped in getting me appointed to the school.  The references had been clear about strengths and weaknesses: -

Mr Goodson's great strength is his ability to make relationships with individual pupils.  He treats children seriously when it is important to do so; he listens to what they say and encourages them to say a great deal, even when they would normally be reluctant.  He is also capable of indicating that their standards are not what they should be without arousing antagonism.  He has a strong sense of humour and can banter with pupils without losing their respect.

Although 'he was a popular student and has a great deal of charm'.

He can sometimes appear off-hand to people who 'go by the book'.  He offended one or two teachers at Hammersmith (my teaching practice school) in this way:  but it is worth emphasizing that the 'injured' parties felt threatened by the success of Mr. Goodson's teaching methods which had involved pupils in a manner never achieved by their own lecturing techniques (Education Tutor 1970).

This emerging pedagogy was practised in a direct grant school in Hammersmith, Latymer Upper, where I undertook my ‘teaching practice’ for the P.G.C.E. at the Institute of Education.  A very conventional, conservative school.  Yet the ingredients of a pedagogy that was more consciously defined at Countesthorpe are quite clear, I think.  In fact, I am surprised at how prophetic the reference is.  Moreover I had assumed that my informal style and use of humour had in a sense 'emerged' at Countesthorpe.  Clearly this was not the case, although the open environment there and the general ethos must have encouraged me to 'come out' more.  Lifestyle and pedagogy became interdependent.

Early on at the school an ethnographic researcher spent some time watching a few of us teaching.  He captured the essence of my pedagogy at the time with great economy.  I still marvel at how quickly he could see that which so many pupils sensed but so few educators could understand:

As I watch him teaching it does seem to me that there is something about him different to other teachers, even the other jokesters like Liz.  Ivor doesn't seem to represent school like other teachers do.  He gives the impression of simply being there because it's a job.  In some subtle and indefinable way he conveys a kind of insolence that pupils frequently convey, but never teachers.  There is something confident, arrogant and deeply irreverent about the way he acts.  He seems to carry no responsibility for the ethos and culture of teaching.  It's not just that he swears, most teachers in the school do and some much more.  Not that he jokes because other teachers joke.  Not his dress or appearance which is conventional alongside many of the staff.  It's a quality of presence, something in his total personal style (Walker 1973).

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  • Date of publication: 15/09/2005
  • Number of pages (as Word doc): 272
  • Publisher: Routledge
  • Subject:
    Curriculum Studies, Narrative Theory
  • Available in:
  • Appears in:
    Learning, Curriculum and Life Politics: the selected works of Ivor F. Goodson
  • Number of editions: 1
  • Paperback
  • Price of book: £27.99
  • ISBN: 978-0-415-35220-8
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