Conceptions of teaching and educational knowledge requirements

Jim Hordern, Maria Teresa Tatto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (SciVal)


This paper scrutinises the educational knowledge requirements of craft, technical, and reflective professional conceptions of teaching, as recently outlined by Winch, Oancea, and Orchard. Drawing on Bernsteinian sociology of knowledge we identify the different requirements each conception makes of educational knowledge, and how it is envisaged that this knowledge will be used in educational practice. While craft conceptions dismiss the value of educational knowledge per se, they nevertheless value other forms of disciplined knowledge. Arguing that technical conceptions of teaching may be either narrowly instrumental or autonomous, we suggest that an advanced technical knowledge base requires a disciplinary aspect, while knowledge for purely instrumental purposes offers a reductive view of educational practice. Moreover, the varying notions of reflection suggested by reflective professional conceptions require certain forms of engagement with educational knowledge, which are challenged by contemporary reforms in teacher education globally. It is suggested that there are often interdependencies between forms of educational knowledge and conceptions of teaching, with potential implications for the trajectories of educational reforms. The argument is briefly illustrated with reference to the national contexts of Germany, England, and Finland.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)686-701
Number of pages16
JournalOxford Review of Education
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2 Nov 2018


  • Educational research
  • research-informed teaching
  • teacher education reform
  • teacher knowledge

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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