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Part II BBS - Education

The Faculty of Education offers four minor subjects in NST Part II BBS. These papers are borrowed from Part II of the Education Studies Tripos. There is a limit of five BBS students for each paper. Students wishing to discuss these Education papers should contact Dr Joan M Whitehead (

Paper 115: Psychology of Education

Core Course

There will be four topics:

Positive Parenting

Early social behaviour and social interactions; attachment theory; styles of parenting; care within and beyond the family; cross-cultural studies of parenting; parenting and cognitive development.

New technologies : New ways of thinking

There is 'a common, uncritical view that information technology promotes learning and progress, a view that makes no reference to the complex interactions between machine, user and context' (Loveless 1997). These sessions will focus on developing a critical psychological understanding of the implications of new technologies for thinking and learning, with particular attention given to ideas about 'new literacy' in the information society.

Hyperkinetic disorder : Have we been 'ADD?

Attention-deficit disorder and associated behavioural difficulties have received increasing attention in recent years. These phenomena will be investigated by examining the definitions diagnoses and interventions applied to AD/HD and Hyperkinetic disorder in children and young people. The central focus will be on neurological deficit versus interactive perspectives, and on the effectiveness of different interventions.

The influence of the media on attitudes and values

This topic will look at the ongoing debate about the effects of the media on the formation of attitudes and values, and through them behaviour, with particular reference to violence, sexual and racial stereotyping and consumer manipulation through advertising.

Students also take one option in Lent and Easter terms from:

The Development of Children's Thinking and Learning

Major theoretical approaches to cognitive development: Piaget, Vygotsky, Bruner, information-processing, connectionism.

Practical implications for children's learning and teaching: learning through play, learning in groups, learning numeracy, literacy and problem-solving; developing memory, reasoning and thinking.

Classroom Interaction

Personal relationships in the classroom; implicit theories of personality and teachers expectations. The development of social skills in pupils, including a consideration of popular and unpopular children. Communication in the classroom; children's communication skills; restricted and elaborated codes; positional and person centred speech; helping children become good communicators. Learning and teaching styles; cognitive style; convergers and divergers, creativity and giftedness; different teaching styles and pupil motivation.

Teaching without Disruption

The coping teacher; cognitive-transactional models of stress; the relationship between self-efficacy, self-esteem, psychological control and effective coping in teachers; coping styles; intra-personal and interpersonal attributions. Organisational structures and the management of behaviour; management style, and organisational culture; leadership, groups and group processes. Management of groups; authority and classroom management structures;         professional social skills. Coping with difficult children: behaviour modification; reattribution training.

Teaching Children with Learning Difficulties

The meaning and assessment of 'learning difficulties'.       Approaches to teaching children with learning difficulties, with reference to a psychological understanding of children's cognitive processes, self-concept, motivation, and emotional aspects of learning and teaching. The educational relevance of psychological research into certain types or patterns of learning difficulties.

The Individual in Society

The development of attitudes. Prejudice. Sex-stereotyping and the development of a gender identity. The influence of the media on attitude formation and change, particularly in relation to gender, race and violence.

Paper 116: Sociology of Education

This course is in two parts:

Educational and Social Change in Post-war Britain

The course will cover the following topics related to educational and social change in post-war Britain: debates about the character of modern society including contemporary arguments around post-modernism and post-fordism; education policy and the political context; changes in the family and in work; education and class, gender and 'race'; and 'the         youth question'. Topics such as the following will be covered:

  1. education as a transformative project;      
  2. fractured societies and fractured identities;       
  3. the political transformations of education;       
  4. education and citizenship; rethinking the youth question;       
  5. the modernising of gender; teaching for diversity;      
  6. the transformation of class relations.

Social Exclusion: Contemporary Education Policies and Practices

This section of the course focuses on the effects of poverty within communities and families, on educational experience and performance within such communities, and on state responses to such conditions. Current concerns about social exclusion will also be considered in relation to past responses to social inequality and poverty, and their effects on children's education at all levels. Topics such as the following will be covered:

  1. social exclusion: conceptual issues;       
  2. is there an underclass? Education and social disadvantage;      
  3. 'race', schooling and marginalisation;       
  4. poverty, family and community;      
  5.  concepts of good parenting;       
  6. gender, class and 'race' in the classroom;       
  7. state responses: action zones;                
  8. state responses: market choices.

Paper 117: Philosophy of Education

This course will address a range of fundamental educational issues from the perspectives offered by some highly influential philosophical positions and thinkers. For example, it will explore issues of the following kind:

  • What is education and what sort of education should children have?      
  • Are schools essential and should schooling be compulsory?       
  • How should we make the curriculum relevant to pupils?       
  • What constitutes knowledge and what, if any, is the proper place of traditional subjects in education?       
  • In what ways should children be active in their learning and how much choice and responsibility should they have in their education?       
  • What is human freedom and what is its place in education?       
  • Is happiness more important than learning?      
  • How can we judge what is good and what should characterise moral, social and personal education?    
  • How should children be taught?

Such issues will be developed with reference to the contributions that conservative, liberal, existential and pragmatist thinking make, and what they imply for current educational policy and practice. Students will be encouraged to develop their own responses and arguments on the issues raised.

Paper 118: History of Education

War, Social Change and Education

  • War and social change in the twentieth century
  • The Boer War, 'physical deterioration' and eugenics
  • Adolescence, the First World War and educational reform
  • Social change in the 1920s and 1930s
  • The impact of wartime evacuation
  • Social reconstruction and educational policy
  • The Second World War and the teaching profession
  • The Cold War, the Vietnam War and education

Students will also take one option course in the Lent term from the following

Option 1: Educational Policy, Curriculum and the Primary Teachers' Role

Changing educational policies have had a particular impact on the primary school curriculum and the role of the primary teacher during the last fifty years. This section offers an opportunity to examine the process of change in more detail, with particular regard to the everyday experience of teaching over this period.

  • 'Secondary education for all' and its impact on primary education      
  • Curriculum change and the role of the primary teacher       
  • Growth of a graduate profession: developments in teacher training      
  • Teachers and educational politics      
  • Romanticisation and demonisation of teachers      
  • The lived experience of being a primary teacher

Option 2: Professional Memory and Oral History

History of education is transmitted daily in the context of the staff room, especially in an era of constant reform and innovation. Teachers respond to innovation against their own experiences and judgments of past practices, and these responses amongst colleagues play a central role in the professional induction of newly qualified teachers. A wealth of current research through oral history reveals both the richness and the complexity of professional memory and the methodical implications of this will be explored in these sessions.

  • Oral history as dialogue       
  • Memory and reliability        
  • Relating oral and written text        
  • Recollection and repetition in life narratives        
  • Collective memory and professional practice       
  • The transmission of professional memory

Option 3: Popular Representation and Gender

The way in which both professionals and non-professionals, including politicians, understand educational issues is both informed by and reflected in popular film, novels and magazines. Governments (and teacher unions) have also made notable use of propaganda film to convey their policies. These media will be the subject of study, with particular reference to the projection of gender issues.

  • Popular representation and media images of school       
  • Unequal societies: class and gender in education 1925-39       
  • World War Two and propaganda; the gender dimension in education      
  • 'Fit for heroines?' – gender and education         1945-1960       
  • Towards equality of opportunity: 1960-1988    
  • Images of youth and its response to schooling