Myth Two – Teacher-led instruction is passive

Posted on 12-06-2013

This blog post summarises chapter 2 of my book Seven Myths about Education. It will be published on March 5th 2014 by Routledge. To read the introduction to this sequence of posts, click here. Click here to preorder if you are in the UK, and here if you are in the US.

In this chapter, I look at how Rousseau, Dewey and Freire’s opposition to facts works in practice. I show how their pedagogical approach rejects teacher-led learning, and instead encourages pupils to discover knowledge for themselves. Teacher-led instruction is stereotyped as passive and boring. I then look at some of the descriptions of good practice from modern English classrooms, which all tend to assume that independent enquiry and discovery are good and teacher explanation and direction are bad. I then show why this isn’t the case and why teacher-directed learning can in fact be an extraordinarily active process for the pupil. I also look briefly at the remarkable story of Siegfried Englemann and Direct Instruction.