Glossary of terms used on this site

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Term Definition

a competence model of professional education attempts to reduce practice to a pre-specifiable list of skills. It is an approach linked to efforts to import business models into the public sector and to render educational activity susceptible to quality management. (see  reductionism atomistic mechanistic commodification).


see above


a contest where there is usually a winner and loser(s). This is commonly manifested in education in arrangements aimed at an outcome where those with most ability and skill will succeed. It most often refers to sporting or academic attainment. While it may motivate some learners competition risks alienating losers especially when success is often linked to extraneous factors beyond the power of participants to change such as privilege and social status.

composite class

a class where pupils of different ages and at different stages are accommodated or taught together in the one teaching area. It is common in small especially rural schools.

comprehensive schooling

a system of schooling in which children of all abilities from a particular area attend the one school. The ideal of thus creating a genuine social mix in terms of school population has been compromised in the UK by the lack of mixed housing in most urban areas a phenomenon which tends to make urban schools imbalanced in terms of  social class race and ethnic identity.


an adjective which refers to mental activity involving desire purpose or will.


an abstract idea.

concept maps

in education a type of diagram created to show various relationships between key ideas usually in some subject area.

conceptual analysis

an approach to philosophical inquiry which examines the meaning of key terms and ideas. It is sometimes seen as a rather arid exercise when there grows a gap between this sort of analysis and actual language in use.


the opposite of abstract - existing in material or physical form.

concrete operational

one of the stages in the genetic epistemology of Jean Piaget (1896-1980) where logic begins to emerge and children can use basic systematic reasoning to solve problems (see formal operational preoperational sensori-motor).


describing a fact situation or practice which depends for its existence or occurrence on another thing or event not necessary qualified by reservations


the act of training someone to behave in a certain way or to become accustomed to certain circumstances. It is associated with behaviourism and is widely regarded with suspicion because of its manipulative associations and the lack of attention paid to the active conscious choices and autonomy of the learner (see classical conditioning operant conditioning reinforcement).

conductive education

an approach designed to enable learners with motor disorders to become more independent  of artificial aids and participate actively in society.

conflict of interest

any situation where a decision made by someone in an official role may be or come to be to the benefit of the decision-maker. Normal procedure would be for these to be declared in advance and/or for the person involved to withdraw from the process

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