Progressive Education, derived mainly from Anglo-American culture, has been the primary frame of reference for student-centered classroom change in developing countries for over 50 years. Yet in many developing countries, strong evidence shows that progressivism has not replaced teacher-centered formalistic classroom practice. Classroom Change in Developing Countries: From Progressive Cage to Formalistic Frame presents a robust case for why formalism should be the primary frame of reference for upgrading classroom teaching in developing countries. Theoretically rich yet grounded in practice, the book draws on case studies from Africa, China and Papua New Guinea to show how culturally intuitive formalistic teaching styles can induce positive classroom change.

Synthesising research and evaluation literature on classroom change in developing countries, Guthrie examines some of the methodological flaws in the literature. The book considers the progressive cage, and looks at Confucian influences on teaching in China, progressive reform failures in both Sub-Saharan Africa and Papua New Guinea, as well as offering a critical take on some failings in comparative education. It examines the formalistic frame, addresses methodological issues in culturally grounded research and offers a model of teaching styles for basic classroom research. The book concludes by returning the focus back to teachers and considers the so-called teacher resistance to change.

The book will be an essential purchase for academics and research students engaged in the fields of classroom teaching, teacher education and curriculum and will also be of interest to academics, aid officials, and decision-makers in developing countries.

part I|30 pages


chapter 1|28 pages

Soft power and the culture wars

part II|128 pages

The progressive cage

chapter 2|25 pages

Typology of progressive reform findings

chapter 3|24 pages

Theoretical and methodological limitations

chapter 4|20 pages

Formalistic tradition in China

chapter 5|21 pages

The formalistic paradigm in Africa

chapter 6|20 pages

Culture and schooling in Papua New Guinea

part III|84 pages

The formalistic frame

chapter 8|23 pages

Theory of formalism

chapter 9|22 pages

Culturally grounded methodology

chapter 10|18 pages

Teaching Styles Model

chapter 11|18 pages

Teacher constructs and classroom change