Educational Research and Teaching: a response to David Hargreaves’ TTA lecture


School of Education, The Open University, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes MK7 6AA, UK


David Hargreaves has argued that educational research fails to provide a sound evidence-base for teaching: it does not generate a cumulative body of knowledge; and it is not geared to resolving the classroom problems that teachers face. As a solution, he recommends that teachers play a more central role in setting the agenda for research and in carrying it out. I accept much of Hargreaves’ criticism of educational research as failing to develop cumulative knowledge, but I suggest that the problems involved in this are more difficult than he acknowledges, and that what he proposes is likely to worsen rather than solve the problem. I also question whether research can fulfill the direct role in relation to practice which Hargreaves envisages. He appeals to the example of evidence-based medicine, but I suggest that this is problematic even in its own context. I conclude by raising questions about the sort of central planning of research that Hargreaves recommends.