Towards initial teacher education quality

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Whilst the ways in which ‘student teachers’ are inculcated into the profession might differ from country to country, it remains the case that those with the purse strings and responsibility for system-wide quality desire some way of keeping tabs on that which occurs. With regard to ITE, this is often couched
in terms of pre-service teachers becoming ‘classroom ready’ at the end of their ‘education’ or ‘training’. Accordingly, at the heart of such statements lies the desire to ensure not only the suitability, but the sustainability of ITE in terms of knowledge and skills, that’s is, the development of the epistemic qualities of students or trainees. Such orientations centre on beliefs that developing knowledge and skills alone will enhance the quality of both ITE and future teachers. From this three questions arise: first, how the ITE might be conceived; second, how this might relate to notions of quality; and, third, how such interpretations might guide features of a system that seeks to understand and explicate ‘learning teaching’. This paper undertakes such discussions, in three parts. First, it argues that calls for ITE quality are in fact political judgements centring on ideas about the attributes of pre-service teachers. Further, judging quality, it is argued, should be based on locally formed ideas of what is and is not appropriate; calls to generic attributes are thus problematic. Second, it proposes a tripartite position for ‘learning teaching’: ‘identifying’ teaching; ‘doing’ teaching; and, ‘knowing’ teaching. These three provide for an ITE base concerned with interactions between elements of ‘learning teaching’ centred on the interface between praxis (the relationship between locally performed action and locally derived theory) and wider conceptual understanding generated by enduring theoretical forms. Thus, those ‘learning teaching’ are, in effect, required to mediate between the here-and-now and systematised epistemic
constructs. Third, the paper elaborates further using Biesta’s tripartite explanation of ‘good education’: qualification; socialisation; and subjectification. His theory develops the aforementioned framework to encompass those who act as other to perceived professional norms in the drive to develop quality in, for
and of ITE. In this way, whilst ‘identifying’, ‘doing’ and ‘knowing’ might, seemingly, orient professional development towards conservatism, in fact, they are capable of containing that which is contradictory or conflicting. At its core, what is illuminated through this is the need for a consideration of ontological
positions to do with belonging, being and becoming ‘teacher’. The call is not, then, to the familiar, but is, rather, a call to an understanding that the 'teacher' is intricately bound up with matters of teacher epistemology and ontology. In summation, the paper is a call to a position for ‘learning teaching’ that specifically requires a relationship with the ontological; our ‘identifying’, ‘doing’ and ‘knowing’ are intricately bound up with our belonging, being and becoming.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 5 Mar 2020
EventNordic Education Research Association (NERA) Conference - University of Turku, Turku, Finland
Duration: 4 Mar 20206 Mar 2020


ConferenceNordic Education Research Association (NERA) Conference


  • learning and teaching
  • teacher education
  • learning teaching


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