Glossary of terms used on this site

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Term Definition

an academic conference or seminar.


the management of an organisation or activity in such a way as to maximise financial profits or the (re)structuring of an organisation or activity in such a way as to render it capable of generating profits.


in education the attempt to turn social practices such as teaching and learning into products or goods or the treatment of them as such. Instead of teaching being seen as involving dynamic and creative activity within a social setting it becomes an inert object capable of being'delivered'.

common curriculum

in an education system or institution the educational programme which all involved would be expected to follow. It is necessarily controversial since decisions on what is deemed suitable for all require choices to be made about what is judged appropriate or not and such choices will clearly reflect different social political and cultural values. Also while ostensibly offering equality - a common curriculum for all - it may entrench inequality since the particular views of any dominant social group are likely to shape and inform the curriculum design.

common sense

sound practical judgement which is not based on specialised knowledge or training. While given status in ordinary language what constitutes 'common sense' for any one social group or culture may actually involve prejudice superstition or ignorance. Appeals to'common sense' as the ultimate arbiter in any dispute therefore need to be treated cautiously.


a political theory which favours the collective ownership of all property by the community each individual contributing and receiving according to ability and need (see marxism).


a grouping of views which can be said to have the common thread of viewing the individual as beholden to the community. One example is in the view that an individual's moral beliefs will be largely a matter of cultural inheritance. One political version is that the individual is subordinate to the collective authority of the community. Another theoretical version holds to a system of social organization based on small self-governing communities.

communities of practice

communities of practice are formed by people who engage in a process of collective learning in a shared domain of human endeavour. The focus is on the processes of social learning that occur when groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do learn how to do it better as they interact regularly. While it can and does refer to all human environments in education it is particularly used with regard to professional cooperation in various situations. The concept has been developed most prominently by Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger (see alsosituated learning).


a complex term referring to any social group which shares one or more characteristics such as locality culture history religion occupation interests and which is perceived or perceives itself as distinct within wider society. State schools traditionally serve a local community - the catchment area -  which may have within it many diverse social groups of its own.

community education

a form of educational provision or educational activities encouraging a wide involvement of people from all ages and often in sites beyond conventional schools or colleges - education in the community. There is a focus on education as a lifelong and continuing process. It is often conducted in tandem or though the medium of youth or other voluntary groups.

community of inquiry

a group involved in the examination of a topic of mutual interest through a collaborative process of dialogue. The term originates in work around philosophy with children but it is also seen as a fruitful method for professional and institutional development.

community school

an educational institution serving a local community. It is most commonly marked by being open to a broader public range of activities and usage than simply that for school pupils or students.


an approach, particularly common in the USA, which seeks to tailor the curriculum more closely to specific students by identifying the learner’s prior competence and so determining which parts of a planned programme may be skipped and alternative more appropriate activities provided. As can be seen, it is most often designed for high-achieving learners in the specific curriculum area (see also differentiation)

comparative education

the study of the similarities and differences between national education systems.


the ability to do something successfully or efficiently in terms of the set criteria (see below).

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