How much do you ponder pedagogy?

24th August 2012 at 01:00

The phone rings. The caller does not sound entirely happy. His tone is polite, even amicable, but slightly vexed.

It is Graham Fowler, an education writer and consultant, and he is calling me to complain about what he believes is missing from TES. The problem with the publication, he explains, is that it does not take a serious enough look at pedagogy.

Hold it right there, sunshine, I say (or words to that effect). Have you not seen the pull-out section in the middle of the magazine? Every week, even during the school holidays, we produce a guide to developments in teaching, with reports and case studies on the best professional practice from around the world. Indeed, each issue features a four-page report on some aspect of pedagogy, often with footnotes and references. This is easy to spot as it is labelled with the word "pedagogy" in large letters at the top of the page.

Yes, Graham replies, that may be a step in the right direction. But what do I understand the word pedagogy to actually mean?

On the back foot, I mumble about how it's, like, the art of teaching, or something. Graham presses his point. The problem, he explains, is that discussion about pedagogy too often conflates it with classroom practice. It is a mistake made by teachers, journalists and politicians. Pedagogy is much more than that, and must include all the reflection and planning teachers do outside schools.

So that is what this week's report is: a call to take a wider view of pedagogy. Unlike nearly all the pieces in the series, there are no handy tip boxes, and it raises more questions than it answers. However, that seems a fittingly open-ended and thought-provoking way to conclude the first year of this mini-magazine.

After next week's index edition, we will begin the new school year with a fresh volume of TESpro. Some of the topics are already planned. Others will emerge out of innovative work begun by schools later in 2012 and 2013 - perhaps approaches they have not even invented yet.

The most useful reports will continue to be the ones that come straight from teachers' suggestions. So pick up the phone.

Michael Shaw is editor TESpro @mrmichaelshaw.

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