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A Progressive Education?How Childhood Changed in Mid-Twentieth-Century English and Welsh Schools$
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Laura Tisdall

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781526132895

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.7765/9781526132901

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‘Trendy, airy-fairy methods’: teachers’ resistance to progressive education

‘Trendy, airy-fairy methods’: teachers’ resistance to progressive education

(p.83) 3 ‘Trendy, airy-fairy methods’: teachers’ resistance to progressive education
A Progressive Education?

Laura Tisdall

Manchester University Press

Teachers rarely grasped the full complexities of the psychological theories that they encountered. However, the ways they used psychology and how it influenced their concepts of childhood were not solely reliant on a misunderstood and confused version of the arguments of key theorists. Rather than being an empty atheoretical vessel into which psychological knowledge was poured, the teaching profession had its own model of craft knowledge that both resisted and adapted the novel theories with which it was presented. This chapter focuses on teachers’ resistance to the child-centred educational methods that emerged from the findings of developmental psychologists. Teachers often felt they had to pay ‘lip-service’ to child-centred methods even if they were not convinced by them, intensifying the influence of simplistic and limiting concepts of childhood and youth. Even when they self-defined as ‘progressive’, they were liable to believe that this mindset tended to introduce too many changes too quickly, so teachers could not keep up with changing ‘trends’ in child-centred practice.

Keywords:   Child-centred, Teachers, Childhood, Adolescence, Psychology

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