Shutting down debates

The growing trend of rejecting the Prog-Trad debate in education has caused me to think. What is it about this decades old debate that is causing the growing boredom with it?

Have the disagreements been resolved? Is the debate no longer relevant? Do we no longer care about the arguments?


As this post by Greg Ashman makes clear, the debate still rages, even between the writings of those who claim that the Prog-Trad debate is a false dichotomy. The debate has not been settled.

Ross McGill argues that:

In reality, teachers at the chalkface actually don’t care what it’s called, they just get on with teaching, using whatever methods suit them and their students. And because of their workload, most have little time to be concerned.

It doesn’t follow that because a group are not all involved in a debate that the debate is not worth having. This is fallacious logic, and it must be exposed. It is fallacious logic that is trying to shut down a debate; a debate that matters very much indeed.

It should be obvious, but this debate matters because it goes to the heart of education. At stake is the manner in which we educate young people. Increasingly we are able to evaluate the best ways to educate our children; an endeavour which should interest everyone, not least people working in education. I cannot fathom why people with the time to engage in this debate would want to shut it down.

One of the best blogs I read this year was “Works for me!” The problem with teachers’ judgement by the always superb David Didau. As he correctly points out:

If we want to improve as teachers we have to acknowledge our errors. If school leaders want teachers to acknowledge their errors they must create a culture where this is safe and normal. One positive change to school culture would be to change the norm from using evidence to confirm our prejudices to using it explore how we might think and act differently.

The shutting down of debates which go to the heart of how we educate our children, and promotion of a ‘whatever methods suit’ complacency must be challenged.

If you have an opinion on the Prog-Trad debate, get involved, put forward your evidence and be prepared to defend your viewpoint or change your opinion. Don’t shut down a debate which goes to the heart of our profession.

Shutting down debates

5 thoughts on “Shutting down debates

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