Whatever Happened to Pedagogical Theory?

  • David R. Olson
Part of the Literacy Studies book series (LITS, volume 2)


This chapter makes the controvertial claim that the skills that distinguish readers from non-readers provide an unreliable guide as to what should be taught. Furthermore, such research has inadvertently encouraged an extremely teacher centered pedagogy in many Western countries especially the United States and Britain. It traces this development to Thorndike’s behavioristic assumptions about teaching and learning. A more general theory of pedagogy makes a sharp distinction between teaching and learning and explores the options available to educators as they attempt to reconcile the agency of the learner, that is, what the learner is trying to do and willing to do, with the goals and standards of the teacher, that is, what the teacher hopes to help the learners achieve. It is argued that through the negotiation of shared goals and standards learners can come to take some responsibility for their own learning. The teacher’s responsibility is to help them do so.


Contingent Knowledge Pedagogical Theory Contingent Truth Empirical Truth Deductive Relation 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of TorontoTorontoCanada

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