Some see the world of teaching through the lens of a Manichean struggle between traditionalists and progressives. Between the Blob and the Germ fighting a great ideologically driven battle, with the classroom the battleground and pupils the subjects. One can always find some evidence to back these respective views. But many would argue that the reality at the chalk face , now at least, is much more nuanced, fifty shades of grey rather than black and white.
At the heart of good teaching is pragmatism, adapting to what the best evidence shows ,taking into account context, and feedback, accessing real time data, using professional judgement, sharing best practice. There is no single approach that works in all circumstances and contexts. Teaching is an adaptive craft.
Professor Larry Cuban of Stanford University, who has watched the ebb and flow of education reforms in the US, captures the reality better than most. Cuban wrote in a recent Blog
‘No single way of teaching works best with all students. Because students differ in motivation, interests, and abilities, using a wide repertoire of approaches in lessons and units is essential. Direct instruction, small groups, whole-group guided discussions, student choice, worksheets, research papers, project-based instruction, online software, etc., etc., etc. need to be in the tool kit of every teacher. There are, of course, reformers and reform-minded researchers who try to alter how teachers teach and the content of their instruction from afar such as Common Core State Standards, the newest version of New Math, New Science, New History, or similar curricular inventions. I support such initiatives as long as they rely upon a broad repertoire of teacher approaches to content and skills. When the reforms do not, when they ask teachers to adhere to a certain best way of teaching (e.g., project-based teaching, direct instruction) regardless of context, I oppose such reforms’