By Wilfred Carr
First released in 1986. Routledge is an imprint of Taylor & Francis, an informa corporation.
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Extra resources for Becoming Critical: Education Knowledge and Action Research
It is easy to think of theory as something more than an organized body of knowledge—too often is it regarded as something close to ‘The Truth’—as certain or complete. And it is easy to think of practice as habitual, self-evident or inevitable (just ‘as it is’). To break these habits of mind, we must restore the problematic element of both. We must reawaken the moral disposition of phronesis; the disposition to act rightly, truly, prudently and responsively to circumstances. Few competent social researchers fall into the trap of treating their theories as ‘truths’.
At the school level, participatory decision-making structures and whole-school curriculum planning provided forums for practical curriculum debate. These consultative and participatory structures had to be understood as essential elements in curriculum: curriculum theory has to embody a social theory. It is in this context that a critical tradition in curriculum is beginning to be established, incorporating not only theories about educational events and organizations, but also a theory about how participants in these events and organizations can learn about them and collaborate in changing them in the light of their learning.
But both theory and practice are regarded as tentative and subject to change in the light of experience. To emphasize the point that some kinds of knowledge provide a more effective foundation for critical reflection than others, it may be helpful to simply list some of the kinds of knowledge teachers have and use in their work. First, there is the commonsense knowledge about practice that is simply assumption or opinion; for example, the view that students need discipline, or that not knowing the answer to 41 Becoming Critical a student’s question is a sign of lack of authority in a teacher.