Heterodoxy:

Health Warning

Believing and acting on the material on these pages could seriously damage your educational health.

Or not.

There is a degree of arrogance in the taken-for-granted assumptions which we make about teaching and learning. If the literature is to be believed, no-one would ever have learned anything until, perhaps, the 1960s, when current hegemonic thinking about student-centred pedagogy may be said to have begun. To be sure, there are dissenting voices, such as Phillips (1996) and more recently Woodhead (2002) but they are readily dismissed by many in the educational establishment as simply "reactionary". There were similarly dissenting voices even in the late 'sixties, in the form of the "Black Papers", bemoaning the decline in the British educational system.

The brief comments in this section do not necessarily follow those critiques. Indeed, some of the arguments are mutually contradictory, but they are not required to be consistent. Their common thread is merely that they present alternatives to the conventional wisdom. Their starting points are variously moral, political (if there is a difference), pedagogic and pragmatic. Some of them, however, do ignore contemporary realities, such as funding and inspection regimes which are treated as simply contingent—if these principles were adopted, the regimes would adapt.

I have tried in these pages to keep my own voice in the background, being content simply to act as an advocate for the positions being discussed. If you think they are ridiculous or even morally objectionable, it is up to you to demonstrate why.

On a personal note, however, I have found writing some of these pages very difficult, because they go so much against the grain. Others, however, have been great fun, because there is nothing like indulging one's own prejudices (despite the liberal terms of my contract when I was employed, that was why they were always hosted on my personal site, rather than on the university server). I leave it to you to judge which was which!

All of us share some of the anxieties which are engendered by the questions which these polemics raise, but we tend to suppress them: by expressing these little-heard viewpoints I hope encourage readers to engage with them seriously. They may — or may not — be wrong-headed, but they are not frivolous. 

And these pieces attracted enough attention to get me a feature interview in the Times Educational Supplement (17 March 2006)

To reference this page copy and paste the text below:

Atherton J S (2013) Doceo; [On-line: UK] retrieved from

Original material by James Atherton: last up-dated overall 10 February 2013

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