19
JUN
2014

Do teachers think knowledge is important?

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There has been a lot of "hot air" exchanges on twitter and blogs about whether or not teachers in England think knowledge is or is not important. It is generally polarised to "Progressives" vs "traditionalists" with the traditionalists saying most teachers are progressives influenced by progressive influencers in OFSTED, universities and professional organisations. They say knowledge is not valued by teachers even though the brain science is indicating all academic capability is knowledge based. The progressives say the curriculum is still too dominated by learning knowldge for knowledge's sake in an era where technology makes it easy to find what you don't know. I hope that is a reasonably balanced summary of the debate. 

Where does politics end and science begin? I decided to try and resolve the issue of what teachers actually believe by asking a simple question with 3 possible answers and posting it on twitter.

Which of the following statements about knowledge best describes its importance in education?

1. Knowledge is irrelevant to a balanced education.

2. Knowledge is very important to a balanced education but some knowledge is essential while some isn't.

3. Knowledge is the only aspect that matters in a balanced education.

The question attracted 90 responses from what appears a random selection with the following subjects represented

Science 17,  Computing/ICT 11, Hums 8, General 14, maths 13,  English 7,  Psychology 1,  Languages 9,  Technology 1,  Art 1,   PE 1,  Economics1,  SEN 2,  Music 2, Dance 1

Primary and secondary and for gender approximately equal male and female. 49/42

All this helps give confidence that it is a fairly representative sample but it is small so we do need some caution.

The number choosing knowledge as irrelevant is 2

The number choosing knowledge as the only aspect that matters is 3

Then number saying knowledge is very important but some is essential and some isn't is 85.

A few questions based on this data

How likely is it that given these data the majority is either denying the importance of knowledge or thinks it is the only thing that matters?

Should we not be moving to a more intelligent debate about the balance of different aspects of education in different age groups?

How far are extreme views distorting the debate away from reality?

 

 

 

 

 

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About the Author
Ian Lynch has worked in a range of roles in 4 LAs an independent school and a CTC. Led OFSTED teams, been an assessor of the NPQH and set up and run three education based enterprises. Main interest is in driving actions that can make a difference within the constraints of "the system" using knowledge of how "the system" works.

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