Praxis, Pedagogy and Teachers’ Professionalism in England
The article considers current teachers’ participation in educational research in England and whether Stenhouse’s perception that such involvement was necessary to stall the political undermining of democratic teacher professionalism has been addressed. Stenhouse instigated the emergence of the teacher-as-researcher movement, whereby teachers engaged with a process that created knowledge and practice. From 1979, when the Conservative Margret Thatcher became Prime Minister, the increasing dominance of globalised knowledge economies turned knowledge away from being a process into a product. Teacher and student education became controlled and consumed by increasingly competitive educational institutions. Learning became aimed at assuring the attainment of higher grades to increase the country’s economic growth and profit, leading to democratic teacher professionalism being undermined. However, contemporary research by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development has indicated that teacher professionalism should involve teachers in conducting classroom-based individual or collaborative research. In addition, a recent academic inquiry by the British Education Research Association has concluded that teachers as researchers, in both literate and practical terms, will have a positive impact on learner outcomes by developing an education system that has the internal capacity to direct its own progress. At the same time, the Department for Education in England commissioned a two-year study to assess progress towards an evidence-informed teaching system. Taking a systematic literature approach, the present article considers the extent to which current teacher education and practice encourage teacher research as a form of developing pedagogical practice, in other words, praxis, in order to re-establish democratic teacher professionalism in England. It also explores whether there are alternative practices to create the same, or a similar, outcome.
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