Why 'anti-intellectual' teachers?;Making the Connection conference

22nd May 1998 at 01:00
There is a mountain to climb in combating the "deeply anti-intellectual" culture of teachers at work, Pamela Munn, a professor of curriculum research at Moray House Institute, told the conference.

She said that teachers' reluctance to engage with research was partly because of heavy classroom loads and reliance on automatic use of routine procedures and strategies. "We need to move away from the idea that a teacher is only working when he or she is in front of a class full of pupils or marking assignments."

Professor Munn said that the competence-based approach to teacher education, which has neglected the social, economic and political roles of schools, contributed to anti-intellectualism.

It also militated against research projects by teachers. Professional development should seek to encourage teacher inquiry. Research might "start small" with one or two people in a school, preferably supported by the headteacher and other senior staff.

The difficulties should not be underestimated. Research was "an enormous addition to a teacher's work". It depended on publication and because in schools it was mostly by individuals and was fragmented, its results did not spread into the education system.

Professor Munn attacked the "crazy" mechanics of national research projects. The Scottish Office asked for tenders for projects that were too short and brought too little money. "I estimate that it costs pound;2,000 for each tender. So across the country the cost to bidders may be more than the pound;15,000 or pound;20,000 value of the project."

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