ET- Arenas of Practice

Benson, Jessica


Schoenfeld, A. (1999). Looking toward the 21stCentury: Challenges of Educational Theory and Practice. Educational Researcher, 28(7), 4-14. Retrieved from
In this paper Schoenfeld sets out to identify a series of arenas for investigation in which theoretical and practical progress can be made in the field of education. He argues that “pure” and “applied” work in research need not be in conflict, but that that contributions to knowledge and practice should complement and reinforce each other. Educational research can and should be conducted in contexts that are of practical import. He identifies the theoretical and practical issues in which progress needs to be made, and outlines his conceptual framework for joining theory and practice. Schoenfeld’s question of the difficulties in unifying the cognitive and the social aspects of learning continues the discussion of how we think and act in the world, as well as offering ideas about the how the mind works in context. His quest for a truly integrated theoretical perspective on issues of self, identity, and social interactions has very practical applications: “The better you understand how someathing is done, the better you can help people do it” (p.6).
This article was one of the first that I encountered while creating my reading plan, and while it does not offer many solutions for the problems in educational theory, it does pose many interesting questions (which is arguably more important). He poses questions about the future of creating detailed models of teaching based on theoretical understanding, and I am focusing my reading on work that has come out of this question in the decade since this article was published. What I found interesting about this article was Schoenfeld’s focus on creating not only a theory of learning but a theory of mechanism– the processes by which learning take place. The discussion of how we make sense of the ways in which people use knowledge in differing circumstances (transfer) is an important factor in considering educational theory.

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