Thinking through paradigms

A paradigm is a model, a way of viewing reality, or a worldview. This book analyses education in terms of three educational paradigms. In this chapter, we call these paradigms ‘didactic’, ‘authentic’ and ‘transformative’ education. The paradigms are presented roughly in the order in which they first appeared on the educational scene. However, we don’t want to give the impression that this is a neatly ordered progression. We trace the general trajectory of change, using only the broadest of brush- strokes in order to render the complexities of history manageable. We regard these three paradigms as alternative ways of thinking about education. At any point in time and in any educational setting, not everything will it neatly into one or other paradigm.

We constructed this model of three broad kinds of educational experience in order to make the educational story we are telling easier to navigate. The overall story may be one of gradual and uneven change. However, all three paradigms are alive and well today, in the imaginations of educators and the communities they serve, and in the complexities of our educational practices.