• teaching;
  • task verbs;
  • achievement verbs;
  • neo-liberalism;
  • Ryle


In 1975 I published an article on Gilbert Ryle's task/achievement analysis of teaching (Marshall, 1975), arguing that teaching was in Ryle's sense of the distinction a task verb. Philosophers of education were appealing to a distinction between tasks and achievements in their discussions of teaching, but they were often also appealing to Ryle's work on the analysis of task and achievement verbs. Many philosophers of education misunderstood Ryle's distinction as teaching was often claimed to be a term with both an achievement sense and a task sense. In terms of Ryle's distinction a verb could not have both a task and an achievement sense.

 It will be argued that in recent (neo-liberal) discussions of education, teaching is treated more as an achievement verb than as a task verb, contrary to my original claim that teaching was a task verb. ‘Teaching’ then would appear to have changed its meaning. If that is so, it is a function of altered approaches to teaching (and its teaching in Teacher Education), whereby unless something of value has been added then the teaching was not successful, or appropriate.