Menus for choosy diners

Eraut, Michael (2002) Menus for choosy diners. Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice, 8 (3). pp. 371-379. ISSN 1354-0602

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The present paper uses one of Michael Huberman's lesser known but most important papers to address the critical issue of teachers' attention. How do professionals handle competing demands on their attention in busy, crowded, 'hot action' situations? It argues that finding time to monitor and respond to people and events in a rapidly changing environment requires routines that keep things going with minimal demands on one's attention; and that 'hot action' decision-making is rapid and intuitive rather than deliberative or explicitly evidence based. The present paper focuses on the unrealistic expectations of those who urge teachers to give high levels of attention to individual pupils, whether they be child-centred philosophers, reflectors in action or advocates for matching instruction to psychometrically defined youngsters. These ideologically or politically attractive perspectives on teaching merely disguise the reality of a classroom discourse that strives for instructional compliance. Teachers' knowledge of pupils is constructed by the largely unconscious aggregation of memories of episodes in which they paid or gave attention to a child; and this knowledge is drawn on rapidly and intuitively in class. Such knowledge is inevitably fallible and biased, but no more so than more 'objective' constructions. Its great advantage is its usability. Finally, it argues that common approaches to teacher education develop coping mechanisms for classroom control before student teachers have developed an experience-based understanding of how best to support children's learning or, better still, how best to enable children to support each other's learning.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Education and Social Work > Education
Depositing User: Michael Ruarc Eraut
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 21:18
Last Modified: 19 Aug 2019 10:08
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