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Selected Works

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

Towards an Alternative Pedagogy

Towards An Alternative Pedagogy

A number of accounts of the introduction of innovation teaching courses, besides underlining the pervasive flaws of transmission, also indicate how an alternative pedagogy could remedy such flaws. The following quotation refers to a fourth-year Humanities course in a comprehensive school:

A theme is chosen, strategies worked out to relate it to the pupil's experience and interest, materials prepared, resources mobilized.  The process is intensely exciting, above all, I think because it incites us to pursue ourselves to the course of study we are preparing to advocate to our pupils. Ironically, by the time the programme is ready to be presented to the pupils for whom it is intended, our own enthusiasm as teachers if often half-spent, or else has become so self-absorbing that we cannot appreciate that it will not be shared by everyone else. We have become our own curriculum's ideal pupils; our resources are beautifully designed to satisfy not our pupils' intellectual demands, but our own! (Armstrong 1974, p. 51).

An account of a first-year undergraduate course in economics makes the same points:

One puzzling factor in the situation was that, whilst students appeared to get very little out of the Demand Theory Package, the members of faculty who prepared it felt that they had learnt a lot. In preparing the Factor Pricing package, therefore, our attention began to shift towards the problem of getting the students to share the experience which the faculty had had. It became clear that it was the process of 'sorting it all out', so important and necessary in developing self-instructional materials, which was the key to this problem. In presenting the students with a completed analysis we were concentrating their attention on predetermined solutions at the expense of focusing it on either the nature of the problem or the analytic process itself (Eraut, Mackenzie and Papps 1975).

From these two accounts it becomes apparent that what is needed is to involve the student in the process of 'sorting it all out' - what Dewey called 'the need of reinstating into experience the subject matter'. The need is to move the pedagogic focus from the pre-active situation where it is divorced from the pupils to the interactive situation where the pupils are involved. By so changing the focus learning becomes less a matter of mastering externally presented material - more a case of actively reconstructing knowledge.

We have stated before that moving the pedagogic focus from implementing the pre-active to interpreting the interactive does not imply an absence of planning (or for that matter, evaluation). As before, the teacher will be concerned to plan for his lessons but in the new situation will seek to ensure that the predictive does not become the prescriptive. E.W. Eisner comes near to the spirit of such a plan in describing expressive objectives: 'An expressive objective describes an educational encounter: it identifies a situation in which children are to work, a problem with which they are to cope, a task in which they are to engage; but it does not specify what from that encounter situation, problem or task they are to learn' (Popham, Eisner, Sullivan and Tyler 1969, pp. 15-16). In short, planning is concerned with the process of learning and does not prescribe what is going to be produced.

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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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