How intuition in teaching is being sidelined to the point of obsolescence

6th November 2014 at 15:00

"Are we witnessing, if not facilitating, the death of intuition in teaching?"

This is a question teachers are beginning to ask themselves as what and how they teach are increasingly monitored and controlled. And it is an issue that Alistair McConville, deputy headteacher at Bedales School in Hampshire, tackles in the 7 November issue of TES.

“The modern obsession with evidence-based practice and measurable outcomes is blurring the purpose of education and undermining authentic and laudable motivations for entering the profession," he writes. "What scope is there for such intangible factors as spontaneity, creativity or relationship-building in teaching today?”

He argues that the push to tie education closely to research is infringing on teachers’ ability to use their own judgement.

“The implication [now] is that mere individuals are not qualified to make judgements based on their experience. This view, which is held by many key figures in education, represents a disturbing and surreptitious attack on teacher autonomy. Few bright, young idealists will enter the profession if conviction, experimentation, creativity and intuition are marginalised in favour of heavily prescribed establishment orthodoxy,” he writes.

McConville stresses that he is not against the use of research in education, explaining that “research and intuition are not incompatible if the autonomy of the teacher is respected”. Unfortunately, he says, this is not happening at present.

“We must recognise that an ideal teacher is a developed person in possession of multidimensional skills appropriate for the complex scenarios they face, rather than a mere functionary paid to deliver predefined products,” he writes. “We need to respect a teacher’s training and experience and trust them to use their judgement appropriately. Once we devalue trained intuition to the point of obsolescence, there is danger we may never get it back.”

Read the full article in the 7 November edition of TES on your tablet or phone or by downloading the TES Reader app for Android or iOS. Or pick it up at all good newsagents


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