“50 Years of Theory Into Practice: Learning from the Past, Looking to the Future” is the theme of Theory Into Practice, 2013, Volume 52, Number S1, edited by Pamela J. Gaskill, Developmental Editor, and Anita Woolfolk Hoy, Past Editor, of Theory Into Practice.
The 50th anniversary of Theory Into Practice is a testament to the continued interest in approaching educational issues with the tools of both theory and practice, and as such, it is rightly cause for celebration. However, an anniversary also offers us an occasion for reflection, to think not only about how TIP and the field of education have developed over past decades, but also to wonder where they—and we—might go next. This special issue is a collection of such reflections, each focused on a more specific theme in the field as captured in TIP and all written by scholars who helped shape the histories they recount.
A glance back at TIP’s history from these different perspectives reveals patterns of development that cross boundaries of topic and focus. In all areas of research, our understandings have changed significantly, often emerging from a dominant approach that is alternately accepted and contested, expanded, revised, or rejected altogether in favor of another. However, despite the apparently disjointed development in the nine topic areas represented in TIP, the last 50 years were characterized by an underlying interconnectedness, both along the stages of development in particular areas and across the different topics. Importantly, these revisions and interconnections often occur in the intersection of theory and practice, with each challenging and expanding the other. This suggests that TIP offers an important space of intersection for our field, a place where theory advances and practice develops in interaction with one another. We hope that this special edition of TIP has helped readers picture the development of education over the past 50 years, and inspired them to consider what they may do to positively impact its development in the next 50 years.