For an educator the development of conscious values relating to environment, transaction and dimension is fundamental to maintaining quality control in the classroom. Processes of curriculum conceptualisation, implementation and review must also be applied within the context of a student body encouraged to develop their own conscious values. Working with these attributes, students themselves can support quality control in the classroom. Without them however, a teacher is constrained to repetitive re-analysis and enormous effort to secure student motivation; all without the benefit of the input of the people these processes are designed to assist. This essay approaches quality control in the classroom from the perspective that the process is one that educators and students share.


In discussing quality control in the classroom we are talking more of the maintenance of quality experience in the classroom than of maintaining efficient 'control' in the classroom, although there are of course aspects that are related. Quality control in the classroom is the process of relevant values applied with consistency and flexibility, within both implementation and self-review processes. Ideally, classroom education is a rich and deep experience for students wherein meaningful understanding of relationships, within and between the social and physical environments, referenced to both community and individual can be developed. The 'classroom' however is rooted in remnants of the liberal-humanist tradition and provides a particularly complex pedagogical arena. As Tait suggests, the classroom sometimes serves "…(as) a clumsy coercive mechanism…(where) teachers 'expertise' acts as…(the) regulator… for government at a distance' (Tait [Ed], p 7, 2000). If this is so, then how does one address 'quality control (of experience) in the classroom'? The answers lie less in the historical heritage of educational pedagogy and than in analysing the pedagogical modalities available to the modern educator.

This essay therefore focuses on an investigation the 'values', which Educators bring to the education environment and seek to develop within students. Less emphasis in this essay is given to the environmental dimension than is given to either the substantive dimension or the behavioural dimension. Additionally, transactions and inclusivity are given more emphasis than antecedent conditions. This approach reflects my belief that consciousness of the interpersonal transactions between students and between students and Teachers form the core of any 'quality' that may be controlled.

The Substantive Dimension

Conscious Values

As an educator I encourage student and peer exploration of both subjective and 'raw' data through interpretative, comparative and analytical approaches in order to develop 'conscious' values. I use the word 'raw' here, rather than 'objective', because to me the word 'objective' expresses an idea or ideal, rather than a definite reality, just as words such as 'love' or 'truth' express ideals. The term 'raw' does not pretend to be 'objective' but still manages to suggest 'less processed'. Rather than being pedantic analysis of semantics, these definitions are central to 'conscious' educating.

As an example of the centrality of values to educational pedagogy, the SOSE curriculum provides an interesting case-in-point in that it states that Studies of Society and Environment "…(involves) the development of optimistic future visions." (QSCC Draft, p4, 1999). Should the SOSE curriculum have said instead, "…development of 'realistic' or 'reasonable' future visions'"? It would not matter if it did, because again, these are value-laden words. What is reasonable to one person is optimistic or pessimistic to two others.

Therefore, my own focus in my practice as an educator is to bring to the classroom the notion of 'conscious-values'.  Quality control in this regard requires peer and Teacher supported higher-order metacognitive processes wherein students develop awareness of their own values and expand their consciousness of others different values. It also requires a willingness from Educators to maintain their own self-awareness. These attributes provide a first step in ensuring quality control in the classroom.

Critical Exploration

As an educator I have a further focus, which is to facilitate 'critical-exploration'. "What is it in us that lies, murders and steals?" asked the German playwright Georg Büchner in 1835… and then (without waiting for an answer)… "I do not want to pursue the question any further". (Gay, 1993, p3) In a sense this attitude is still sometimes reflected in the education system, but is masked by assessment and review practice, when it relates to the acceptance and consumption of current ideology. Specifically, exploration is confused with the consumption of models of economic imperatives and other politicized ideals. In Understanding Education, Meadmore suggests this when he comments, "…globalisation…(and)… the adoption of certain economic theories by Australian Governments…(has)…had a significant input into the nature and direction of schooling in Australia". 

Therefore, I approach classroom exploration with the 'value' that such exploration must be conducted in a fashion that supports 'criticism'. I use the phrase 'critical-exploration' in order to differentiate between an exploration that uncritically develops more value-laden ideology statements, compared with an exploration that digs, questions, dissects, critically-analyses and undertakes a meaningful inspection. When critical exploration is combined with conscious values, an environment can begin to develop where students and educators cooperatively seek to maintain and control quality in the classroom. Without this combination of attributes students are hard pressed to engage proactively in the creation of their own quality environment, yet with it, students themselves have the basic tools necessary to cooperatively engage in quality control (and other) determinations. Professional accountability is then satisfied through direction of vision or effort based on conscious decision-making in which students may actively. Critical exploration both by students and educators is the second value that I consider important to secure and maintain quality control in the classroom.  

The Behavioural Dimension

Teacher Influence.


All teachers thought deeply about the interconnections between their decisions and the way the world functioned and all students were similarly encouraged to think about the interconnections in the way the world functioned.

Can such a web of relationships be understood? Possibly. Certainly some familiarity with exploration of the web of interconnections of life can be developed, so that students may recognise complexity, without feeling powerless, and that students may achieve a positive approach when differentiating the components of that complexity. I will call this 'positivism'. *

*I must differentiate this from the liberal-humanist tradition of the 18th century of the same name by observing that in my use of the word I do not mean the veneration of the rational mind and the machine, but simply refer to a state where complexity may be addressed without feeling overwhelmed and the world considered critically without generating despair.

Positivism (Positivité)

Positivism (Positivité)

Why encourage positivism and what has it to do with quality control in the classroom? The answer to these questions largely lie in my belief that positivism is a necessary component for the development of conscious values and in particular, needed to facilitate involvement in creating change. This is a subjective belief rather than empirical knowledge, but nonetheless I feel compelled to include positivism as a vital component of quality control in the classroom. To explain the importance of positivism I turn to allegory, comparing the relationship between positivism and quality control in the classroom to the processes involved in Homeopathic therapy.

Normally a single substance, a homeopathic compound is subjected to procedure that brings out the medicinal properties of the original substance. However the substance is diluted before prescription so much so that, from a statistical point of view, there may be none of the actual original element left in the homeopathic compound. Yet, homeopathy can have a profound effect, which is referred to as 'like curing like'.

Relating this to my vision of quality control in the classroom, critical-exploration can be paralleled to the ' homeopathic procedure'. 'Conscious-values' replacing 'unconscious-values' can then be compared to the homeopathic principle of 'like cures like'. Maintaining this allegory, the element of positivism can be compared to the dilution process applied to the homeopathic substance. Like the results of the dilution process in homeopathy it is vital, but difficult to measure. While positivism may have no easily measurable value, it does nonetheless appear to still have an influence. In my experience positivism supports depth of enquiry and maturity of decision by can mitigate feelings of powerlessness. It allows and encourages student personal and metacognitive exploration and thus I include it as a third and vital component in achieving quality control in the classroom.

Individual Quests

My argument so far has been that quality control in the classroom is fostered by the development of a positive environment in which critical-exploration skills are encouraged and the development of conscious-values is facilitated. Pedagogical concerns such flexible teaching practice and flexible learning processes are supported through this emphasis. Quality control can be maintained through implementation of curriculum modules designed to support students on both personal and systemic levels to develop skills of critical-exploration so that development of conscious-values is enhanced. Review processes should ideally be structured so that students are encouraged to become informed by the process. This requires review research paradigms that assist both an educator and students to reconceptualise their own learning strategies and review their own learning outcomes. In order to facilitate quality control of these aims, students should be supported to explore broadly within units that allow for multiple paths and multiple outcomes and processes of mutual review must be applied to any analysis of effectiveness.

Group Climate

The behavioural dimension of the classroom is not an individual quest. It is a group climate for the students and this suggests to me that it is a group climate for the educators concerned. The Framework project conceptualisations possibly include recognition of this, when Luke states that there is a need to, "… shift towards community accountability …for delivering improved student outcomes". (

Schools that experiment with or develop vertical timetabling, with multiple teachers in the one classroom (or out of the classroom), are engaging in an approach that has the potential to recognise diversity and provide an approach manifesting allowance for difference. Structural processes for analysis and quality control need to be designed to accept and incorporate this diversity. Parameters for effective process in this regard are considered in the following concluding section of this essay.

Visualisations for Quality Control

In this essay I have explored core theoretic and philosophic frameworks for approaches to education that maintain or facilitate quality control in the classroom. These have included critical exploration, conscious values, positivism, supportive environments for individual realisation on both personal and systemic levels, encouragement of diversity through acceptance of multiple outcomes and finally, consideration of group climate. These considerations are based on the conceptualisation that one of the most positive paths towards quality control in the classroom is through facilitating students' participation in the quality control of experience in the classroom.  However I would be remiss if I did not include some conceptual models for practical implementation of strategies that can assist achieve these core philosophic aims. I will conclude this writing therefore by briefly outlining a central tenant to Teacher involvement in this.

The quality of classroom experience is controlled by how the curriculum is conceived and planned, by the quality of the processes of implementation and is measurable by the quality of the outcomes, both planned and unplanned. In turn these three areas of focus can be considered within the terms established Michael Eraut who suggests that three dimensions are involved in teacher professional accountability. These are the on-going review of what a teacher is doing with and for individual students; personal and collaborative self-evaluation and collective review; and continuing self-development. (Eraut, 1993)

There is an educational or pedagogic cycle visible here, where curriculum conception, planning and implementation, provide a basis for review and collaborative self-evaluation, and in turn form the core of the student experience and therefore outcomes.  In a sense this cycle of values, implementation, and review is described by Smith and Lovat when they talk about Action Research, which is described as, "… a process of change aimed at the improvement of an individual’s, or group’s, own practice…  a process entered into by us because we wish to improve our own practice, and understand in a more critical manner the reasons and basis for such practice…" (Smith & Lovat, p 185, 1991).

As Teachers we manage quality control in the classroom by proceeding through a series of steps stemming from an identified problem or area of concern and plan very specifically how to investigate that. Once we undertake the investigation so that specific information or data is gathered we can then examine what has been found, interpret it and draw conclusions. Reflection on the significance of this allows us to decide what kind of change to make, considering what we have found… then beginning another "cycle", with the appropriate steps… and so forth. The quality of what the teacher is doing is continually being examined and adjusted. Perhaps not surprisingly, in order to maintain quality control in the classroom, educators must engage in the same processes that they would encourage in their students: critically explore, develop conscious values and move towards desired outcome with positivism. Hmmm…. what is good for the goose is good for the gander, in the case of quality control in the classroom.




Ed Queensland Framework Project  Visited 10.04.2000

Gay, P., The Cultivation of Hatred, p3, The Bourgeois Experience Victoria to Freud, Harper Collins Publishers, London, 1993

Grove, R., Green Imperialism, Colonial Expansion, p 16, Tropical Island Edens and the Origins of Environmentalism 1600-1860, Cambridge University Press, UK, 1997 Control in the Classroom-Overview.html (Eurat, 1993 cited) Accessed 09.04.00

Meadmore, D., Tait, G., Burnett, B. (Ed) Practising Education, Social and Cultural Perspectives, p 7, Prentice Hall, Australia, 2000

Meadmore, D., Burnett, B., O'Brien, P. (Ed) Understanding Education, Contexts and Agendas for the New Millennium, p 91, Prentice Hall, Australia, 1999

Smith, D.L. & Lovat, T.J. Curriculum: Action on Reflection, p 185, Rev.ed. Wentworth Falls, NSW: Social Science Press, 1991.

Queensland School Curriculum Council Draft Years 1 to 10 Studies of Society and Environment Syllabus 1999, p4, q:\kla_sose\syllabus\drafts\5 august1999.doc 3