Teaching as disciplined enquiry

Mason, John (2009). Teaching as disciplined enquiry. Teachers and Teaching: Theory and practice, 15(2) pp. 205–223.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/13540600902875308


This paper is designed to raise issues around how we view teaching and some of the implication that has for thinking about teaching as a discipline. The paper is built around the concept of 'noticing' from some of my earlier work and aims to push ideas about teaching in ways that are intended to provoke readers into thinking more deeply about how they conceptualise teaching and all that that involves. The paper is organised in such a way as to invite critique using the idea of teaching as disciplined enquiry because teaching, in its full sense, requires ongoing study of oneself in order to be sensitive to learners, ongoing enquiry as to the sense that learners are making, and ongoing enquiry into the subject matter of the discipline. This enquiry involves multiple domains: subject epistemology and ontology; pedagogic strategies and didactic tactics; and psychosocial specifics of situations involving human beings, who can be agentive in exercising their will as to what they attend to, and how. Put another way, in order to remain fresh and sensitive to learners, it is essential for teachers to refresh their sense of the disciplined ways in which natural human powers are employed in the subject, of the role of fundamental themes, practices and awarenesses which comprise the subject and its discipline, and of the particularities of the learners in their historical-cultural and institutional setting. Thus, teaching is fundamentally enquiry in the domain of human attention and awareness.

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