100 years of Psychology and the ‘Simplistic Pedagogy’: Fixing the Theory-Practice Gap and bringing the Teacher back into Education


Matt Sillars (Inverness College, UHI)




Inverness College UHI (room to be confirmed) and via Video Conference


Further and tertiary education in Scotland differs from primary and secondary education in that no teaching qualifications are required for employment.  Pedagogical development, therefore, has to compete with social practices which have been long established and may themselves be based on pragmatic experience. A ‘long cycle of practice’ is drawn on by new lecturers who base their approach on their own educational experience.   This generational ‘cycle of practice’ is interrupted by occasional bursts of staff development which necessarily simplifies complex ideas and reduces knowledge of learning and teaching to basic units.

Two cornerstones of education, Vygotsky and Piaget are fundamental to Scottish education but are reduced to ‘scaffolding’ and to ‘readiness for learning’. Piaget retired 40 years ago and his key work is at least 60 years old. Vygotsky died 83 years ago and his seminal work is nearly 100 years old. What has happened in the intervening years and are we paying attention? How do we develop informed pedagogical knowledge and practice in the 21st Century?

The theory-practice gap is exacerbated by the engagement of the profession with trendy quick fix training programmes which offer much but in reality essentialise learners and reproduce inequality.  Fixing the theory-practice gap and developing a curriculum for the 21st century is critical, yet the focus is on the learner and not on the teacher. Bringing the pedagogically informed teacher back into further and tertiary education is critical, yet little is invested and the generational cycle of practice continues.

If you would like to attend this seminar please email amy.woolvin@uhi.ac.uk as soon as possible (please note the new email address). Please state if you would like to attend in person (in Inverness) or if you require a dial-in code.