Progressive Education, derived mainly from Anglo-American culture, has been the primary frame of reference for student-centered classroom change in developing countries for over 50 years. Yet in many developing countries, strong evidence shows that progressivism has not replaced teacher-centered formalistic classroom practice. Classroom Change in Developing Countries: From Progressive Cage to Formalistic Frame presents a robust case for why formalism should be the primary frame of reference for upgrading classroom teaching in developing countries. Theoretically rich yet grounded in practice, the book draws on case studies from Africa, China and Papua New Guinea to show how culturally intuitive formalistic teaching styles can induce positive classroom change.
Synthesising research and evaluation literature on classroom change in developing countries, Guthrie examines some of the methodological flaws in the literature. The book considers the progressive cage, and looks at Confucian influences on teaching in China, progressive reform failures in both Sub-Saharan Africa and Papua New Guinea, as well as offering a critical take on some failings in comparative education. It examines the formalistic frame, addresses methodological issues in culturally grounded research and offers a model of teaching styles for basic classroom research. The book concludes by returning the focus back to teachers and considers the so-called teacher resistance to change.
The book will be an essential purchase for academics and research students engaged in the fields of classroom teaching, teacher education and curriculum and will also be of interest to academics, aid officials, and decision-makers in developing countries.
In his latest volume, Dr. Guthrie makes a fierce and persuasive argument for a paradigm shift in how researchers and policy makers consider educational reform in developing countries. He challenges us to recognize the failings of the progressive education agenda and to move instead toward a formalistic framework that is responsive to and respectful of the educational practices in many emerging economies. Far from wanting to maintain the status quo however, Dr. Guthrie urges a paradigm shift so that future efforts toward educational improvement might be more impactful and lead directly to positive results for students. His book is a must read for anyone who is committed to strengthening teaching and learning and building educational equity and excellence in developing countries.
Heather Lattimer, EdD, Professor of Education, University of San Diego
This book presents a compelling argument for why ‘formalism’ should be the primary conceptual underpinning informing curriculum work in schools in developing country contexts. A core strength of the book is a careful illustration, based on strong evidence, that a progressivist centred curriculum approach favoured by many countries over the last 40 years, has not replaced teacher-centred formalistic classroom practice. In this light, the author presents a convincing argument for reconsidering the role of such curricular approaches in developing contexts. This is a well-argued and convincing text which should be compulsory reading for students, academics, and education policy and planners in developing and other country contexts.
Aslam Fataar, Distinguished Professor, Department of Education Policy Studies, Stellenbosch University
Classroom Change is not a gentle breath of fresh air. It is a gale of compelling evidence and insights developed from the extensive literature on classroom change in developing countries. Written in clear, bold, and assertive prose, this powerful book builds theory from evidence, not the other way around …. Are his muscular statements warranted? At first, my instincts were to think Guthrie had overstated his case. Now I do not think this after reading and considering the evidence and analysis …. A wide readership will benefit from this important new book.
Robert Cannon, Education and Research Adviser, Australia-Indonesia Innovation for Indonesia’s School Children Programme
Guthrie’s latest book, concerned with improving teaching and learning in developing countries, contains important lessons for researchers and policy actors .… [his] conclusions – the result of many decades’ work in the field – deserve serious attention. The continuing heavy involvement of Northern actors in education in the South calls for reflexivity about the relevance of foreign values, assumptions and models of educational improvement. This calls for greater appreciation of local knowledge and practices, and sincere efforts to identify and promote teaching methods which are effective at improving students’ learning in different cultural contexts.
Dr Rafael Mitchell, REAL Centre, Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge
PART 1. OVERVIEW
Chapter 1. Soft Power and the Culture Wars
PART 2. THE PROGRESSIVE CAGE
Chapter 2. Typology of Progressive Reform Findings
Chapter 3. Theoretical and Methodological Limitations
Chapter 4. Formalistic Tradition in China
Chapter 5. The Formalistic Paradigm in Africa
Chapter 6. Culture and Schooling in Papua New Guinea
Chapter 7. The Failure of Progressive Paradigm Reversal
PART 3. THE FORMALISTIC FRAME
Chapter 8. Theory of Formalism
Chapter 9. Culturally Grounded Methodology
Chapter 10. Teaching Styles Model
Chapter 11. Teacher Constructs and Classroom Change
This is a series that offers a global platform to engage scholars in continuous academic debate on key challenges and the latest thinking on issues in the fast growing field of International and Comparative Education.