Research told to go into the front line

4th December 1998 at 00:00
Educational research by teachers is just "tinkering", according to a long-standing critic of research practices. But David Hargreaves, professor of education at Cambridge University, told an audience in Edinburgh last week that future research still had to be conducted on the front line and new partnerships had to be forged between higher education and the classroom.

Professor Hargreaves has a record of annoying researchers with his claim that much of their work offers poor value for money and "clutters up academic journals that virtually nobody reads". But giving the annual Moray House lecture, sponsored by The TES Scotland, he said that the rapid changes facing pupils and teachers, including those propelled by information technology, demanded a new style of research.

Only by working with teachers could educational researchers justify time and money spent on projects and make them relevant, Professor Hargreaves said. "In the future as the education service becomes a knowledge intensive industry, higher education will design projects to be carried out in the classroom by teachers."

Extra payments should be used to encourage "outstanding" teachers to work in deprived areas.

Douglas Weir, dean of education at Strathclyde University, challenged Professor Hargreaves on the teachers' role. "They are not researchers in the traditional academic sense," Professor Weir said. "But when they do research to improve their teaching they do so intuitively." He also warned that policy-makers were terrified of empowering teachers.

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