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Selected Works

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

Towards an Alternative Pedagogy

A cooperative learning enterprise that reaches the crucial learning threshold might pass through three stages:

First stage:

The student says “I want to do something on the second world war” and gets the reply, “OK, get started. Here’s some books and magazines, there’s a filmstrip you can look at.” During the following period the teacher may feel quite anxious about what’s going on: There may be a lot of copying out of books, drawing of pictures, collecting of unrelated bits and pieces of knowledge – useless knowledge it may seem, and so indeed it may sometimes turn out to be. But what may be going on is a process of exploration in which the student, often unconsciously, feels around the topic to locate the real source of its attraction for him – some problem or worry or preoccupation or powerful feeling related to it.

Second stage:

The teacher, after watching all this and trying to detect underlying themes and concerns in the students busy activity, while very gently maintaining it and restraining himself from criticism, and the student, who is beginning to understand why the topic holds his interest, get together to bring it into focus. “So what you’re really on about is the casual, pointless way people could get killed, in ways that couldn’t make any sense to them – you live your whole life, have an education, a family, fillings in your teeth, and end up in a ditch after some minor skirmish with an unimportant enemy outpost that was going to withdraw one minute later anyway”. The teacher goes on to suggest further ways of exploring the central interest.

Third stage:

The student is now experiencing the satisfaction of successfully investigating a topic alone and bringing it under control. The student has developed tenacity and perseverance, is making statements he can back up, is hypothesizing with confidence, and can improvise from knowledge. The project is out of the intensive care unit and the teacher can speak his mind about it without fear of killing it stone dead or putting the student down. The relationship has become robust and stimulating to both sides. The student enjoys the teacher’s company and finds it challenging. The teacher has gotten interested in the student and in the topic – about which he or she now knows a lot more. The teacher takes the student’s challenges and suggestions seriously, and now experiences the co-operation which started off as abstract ideal.

This is the stage of synthesis. The student has a perspective on the whole topic that may be expressed in a piece of writing that integrates generalizations, facts, attitudes, and the students’ whole view of the world. The final writing or presentation will express the dynamic vigour of the reconstruction of knowledge that has gone on (Goodson & Medway 1975, ibid).

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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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