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Appears in Collections:eTheses from Faculty of Social Sciences legacy departments
Title: The teaching of English in Scottish secondary schools 1940-1990 : a study of change and development
Author(s): Northcroft, David J,
Issue Date: 1991
Publisher: University of Stirling
Abstract: This study follows the progress of a key school subject towards its slow, partial fulfilment of the 1940s' aspiration for equality of educational opportunity within the post war reconstruction of Scottish society. Its focus is on 'English' at both the level of public pronouncement and of day-to-day classroom experience and on the intricate interactions between these two worlds. Therefore, in addition to analysis of official documentation and school materials, the personal testimony of twenty long-serving participants, practitioners as well as policy makers, is woven into the account. Two factors have helped to elucidate this history: the centralised, uniform nature of the Scottish system; the post-war inheritance of two articulated but competing models of English - the initially dominant Scottish Education Department supported academic syllabus built on knowledge inculcation, national examination and institutional division into 'junior' and 'senior' secondary curricula as against the progressivist alternative of 'the full and harmonious development of the individual' to be sought in 'omnibus' schools. Superficially, 1940-1990 may be viewed as the gradual, orderly movement towards Standard Grade English as a consensual acceptance of the progressivist version, a process facilitated by an opening up of decision-making into a partnership between SED and the profession through such bodies as the Consultative Council and a devolved Examination Board. A detailed investigation of actual practice shows a more ambiguous curricular reality in which pragmatic management and deeply embedded assumptions sustain a contradictory adherence to didactic methodology and rigid assessment procedure. The Scottish experience suggests that curricular change is a necessarily problematic process whose promotion depends upon a sensitive appreciation of its complex rhythms. In Scotland this means using the traditional authority of the centre to establish clear frameworks and appropriate assessment targets within and against which the individual teacher is freed to work out a matching pedagogy and to take control of in-course evaluations. Above all, the educational innovator must be alert to the power of historical inheritance in the construction of classroom practice.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation

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