Very often the argument about evidence-based practice is a deceptively simple one: tell teachers what works best and they will do it. Why wouldn’t they? Ok – teachers may be involved to some extent in the research design, setting questions and organizing methods, or more often – involved in providing data as sites of experimentation or intervention. But once results are collated and analysed – they are presumably fed back to teachers as a series of pedagogic instructions: teacher proof pedagogy.
Surely this move is a continuation of the long standing ‘discourse of derision’ to which teachers have been subject for some years? They can not be trusted to teach, they are poorly trained, they lack knowledge, they are all left wing progressives – that sort of thing. So what we need is science. Science will instruct them.
But pedagogic practice is more complicated than that. In this table adapted by Frank Coffield from the work of Robin Alexandra, changed slightly by me – teaching is argued as the outcome of a multi-layered filtration process which shapes practice across a number of different dimensions.
Evidence is part of the process but even if the ancient art of positivism is accepted as having some value – it is not the only thing that can (or indeed should) define practice.
Values which define how and what we accept, gather and analyse as
Evidence which is selectively drawn upon to shape what becomes and is experienced as
Policy Pressures which are mediated, translated, interpreted by situational
Pragmatics which is influenced by and influences our
Conceptions of Teaching and Learning which evolve with time, experience and the communities we work alongside to determine our
Practice which is not just what happens in the class room, it is multi-dimensional construct, including
Context, Knowledge, Curriculum, Pedagogy, management, Students, CPD, Society
Coffield, F., & Edward, S. (2009). Rolling out ‘good’,‘best’and ‘excellent’practice. What next? Perfect practice?. British Educational Research Journal, 35(3), 371-390.