Teaching: a very natural act?

Clio et cetera

In 1971 the philosopher of education Paul Hirst published a paper titled “What is teaching?” in which he set out, in the style of RS Peters, to conduct an analysis of the concept ‘teaching’. He began by raising a concern about the confusion being sown in discussions of teaching in words that, despite being written nearly half a century ago, resonate clearly today.

Repeatedly one finds an almost exclusive emphasis on certain activities of the pupils, say those of enquiry, discovery and play, not on the activities of the teacher. In the discussion of such methods it seems to me there is much misunderstanding of what teaching is and therefore of what it involves, and this not infrequently leads to a very distorted view of the whole educational situation.

Hirst’s analysis is worth reading in its entirety, not least because it shines a powerful and critical light on…

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