Ever since Mark Clarke’s seminal article in 1994, there have been ever stronger calls to break the boundary between theory and practice in language teaching. This has resulted in a proliferation of teacher and classroom-based research. And yet, over 20 years on, very little seems to have changed. So what if the boundary between theory and practice is, from some perspectives at least, ‘unbreakable’? In this presentation we revisit the three principal intellectual virtues proposed by Aristotle, proposing a reconsideration of techne in the context of pedagogical understanding. The academic valorisation of theory in the realm of practical action, we argue, represents an illegitimate imposition of expectation that obfuscates rather than illuminates. Drawing on data from staffroom talk and chapters written for the series ‘International Perspectives on English Language Teaching’, we argue for the legitimacy of alternative ways of thinking about the value of practice and experience that are founded on concepts of sharing and ‘exchange’. The primary challenges in this context lie not in making connections with theory but in finding appropriate ways in which to listen to and value practitioners’ voices while exploring and encouraging new ways in which such voices can be articulated.
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