The French have a saying ‘plus ca change plus c’est la meme chose’. The English colloquial equivalent ‘same old same old’ conveys a sense of the inevitable, a reminder that if we haven’t learned the lessons of history we are doomed to repeat them. In over half a century, what have we learned about education, about schools as places for education, about learning and teaching and the relationship between them? What have we learned about policy making and the policy process? Has the growing impact of globalisation informed or constrained radical change?
Written in an easily accessible style, and drawing on the author’s personal experiences of working in education as teacher, researcher, government adviser and consultant with international agencies, each chapter of the book illuminates deeper lying issues about the nature of schooling, learning, leadership, research, and the impact of globalisation on the lives of schools, teachers, children and families. This first-hand account, spanning fifty years, addresses key questions through seven different lenses:
- policy making: ideology, insiders, outsiders and dissenting voices
- research and the myths of scientific rigour
- international agencies and agents provocateurs
- academics conferring and the power of place
- New enlightenment and a university for children
- being and becoming a teacher, and the end of idealism
- going to school: plus ca change?
Each of the seven lenses offers a unique perspective of the education system, but all are drawn together to consider the greater implications for policy and practice in the UK and beyond. The book will be of value to teachers and school leaders, as well as to academics and students on education programmes.
‘This engaging narrative of an academic and public intellectual’s interaction with the world of educational policymaking raises sobering questions. Set in an international panorama, MacBeath’s occasional successes are juxtaposed, with commendable honesty, to his disappointments. But his underlying optimism about children and the teaching enterprise give us hope’. – Distinguished Professor W. Bruce Leslie, State University of New York, USA
‘John MacBeath takes us on his very personal journey through a lifetime of educational research and practice. This book clearly shows why he is an educator sought after in many countries of the world by people hoping to improve what happens in school for young people. It gives a glimpse of a way forward, if only we would listen’. – Professor Tony Townsend, Chair of Public Service, Educational Leadership and Management, University of Glasgow, UK
‘The book is not only a memoire of past glories and failures (happily more of the former than the latter) but also a recipe for all our futures. I recommend this book to policymakers in the hope that even at this late stage they may be persuaded by its arguments that there is "a better way"’. – Professor Maurice Galton, University of Cambridge, UK
In the Beginning: Dancing on the Demons Part I: The First Lens Policy Making: Ideology, Insiders, Outsiders and Dissenting Voices. Policy Perspectives and Priorities: Hearing Voices Part II: The Second Lens Research and the Myths of Scientific Rigour. Telling Stories: From Dutiful Compliance to Defiant Risk Taking Part III: The Third Lens International Agencies and Agents Provocateurs. Cogitamus Ergo Sumus: We Think therefore We Are Part IV: The Fourth Lens Academics Conferring and the Power of Place. In Pursuit of Congress: True Believers, Pragmatists and Heretics Part V: The Fifth Lens New Enlightenment and a University for Children. ‘Notschool’: Freeing the Children…and Other Political Prisoners Part VI: The Sixth Lens Being and Becoming a Teacher, and the End of Idealism. Back to the Future: A New Storyline Part VII: The Seventh Lens Going to School: Plus ca Change? Testing Classroom Learning - Connect, Extend and Challenge. Epilogue: In Hindsight and Retrospect.