Beyond a unitary conception of pedagogic pace: Quantitative measurement and ethnographic experience

Adam Lefstein, Julia Snell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations

Abstract

English education policy-makers have targeted classroom time as a key area for regulation and intervention, with 'brisk pace' widely accepted as a feature of good teaching practice. We problematise this conventional wisdom through an exploration of objective and subjective dimensions of lesson pace in a corpus of 30 Key Stage 2 literacy lessons from three classrooms in one London school. Systematic classroom observation produced an anomaly: the lessons we experienced as fast-paced were rated objectively as slowest, and vice-versa. We contrasted the fastest and slowest episodes in the corpus, demonstrating that for these episodes the accepted measure of pace primarily reflected differences in utterance length. Linguistic ethnographic micro-analysis of the episodes highlighted predictability, stakes, meaning and dramatic performance as key factors contributing to pace as experienced. We argue, among other claims, that sometimes accelerating pupils' experience-and learning-necessitates slowing down the pace of teaching, and that government calls for urgency may, perversely, make lessons slower.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-106
Number of pages34
JournalBritish Educational Research Journal
Volume39
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2013

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