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Beyond the polarization of pedagogy: models of classroom practice in Tanzanian primary schools

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)273 - 294
Number of pages22
JournalComparative Education
DatePublished - May 2007


Debate on teaching in low-income countries has tended to assume an over-simplified conceptualization of pedagogy as either teacher-centred or learner-centred. If theory is to address itself to the complex challenge of improving the quality of teaching within under-resourced education systems then it will have to move beyond this polarized view of pedagogy. This paper applies Basil Bernstein's performance and competence modes to the findings of fieldwork in Tanzania. It thereby arrives at a more nuanced understanding of primary school teachers' classroom practice, which allows for teachers working with a mixed palette of techniques and ideas. Bernstein's pedagogic modes were constructed from his studies of education in Britain. Their application to the Tanzanian setting, however, highlights the limitations of analytical frameworks developed in western contexts. It is argued that appreciation and critique of pedagogy in low-income countries could be deepened through linking with comparative literature that compares across English and non-English-speaking countries.

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Other identifier: 03050068


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