What is the Role of Professional Development? A Dialogical Exchange between Steiner Education and the National Professional Standards for Teachers
Rationale for a dialogical review: Dialogue is therefore central to the task of educational leadership – not a weak concept of dialogue interpreted as strategies for communicating but a strong concept of dialogue as a way of being (Shields, 2004, p.115).
To live means to participate in dialogue: to ask questions, to heed, to respond, to agree … In this dialogue a person participates wholly and throughout her whole life: with her eyes, lips, hands, soul, spirit, with her whole body and deeds. She invests her entire self in discourse, and this discourse enters into the dialogic fabric of human life (Bakhtin, 1984, p.293; cited by Shields, 2004, p.116).
Interactions: Imagine how with our head we absorb something such as the speech of another. What we have thus absorbed goes first of all into our I … All the impressions we receive from the external world are mirrored in our organisation of metabolism and limbs; … that is where the impressions remain. And from there they must come up again when we remember (Steiner Blackboard Drawing,1924; Kugler, (Ed.), 2003).
This workshop focuses on a dialogical exchange between the National Professional Standards for Teachers and Steiner indications – past and present – for Professional Learning. • The main source for the National Professional Standards is the AITSL (Australian Institute for Teachers and School Leadership) weblink (www.aitsl.edu.au)and the report commissioned by ACER for Teaching Australia (now AITSL) and written by Ingvarson and Kleinhenz in August 2006. • The intention is to use recommendations from these sources as building blocks for vision building for PL programs in Steiner Schools.
The way the Professional Learning of Teachers is understood differs depending on the context of the inquiry. The following four levels in particular are relevant to this discussion:
Four levels of interpretation of PL • National standards focus on what teachers need to know and do to promote student learning outcomes. Teachers are seen to be responsible for student learning; • State education departments use teaching standards for teacher registration purposes; • Professional Learning is owned by employers who use teaching standards as a measure for performance management, annual review and incremental salary advances; • “… the standards that are most likely to promote the best professional learning are profession-defined, rather than developed to serve the purposes of individual employers or other agencies. The former promote engagement, the latter compliance” (Ingvarson & Kleinhenz, 2006, p.87)
“Our review of national and international literature indicates teachers have had limited say in systems for their own Professional Learning … ” (Ingvarson, 2006, p.4). • “Members of other professions would find it odd that governments and employing authorities have played the major role in developing standards for the teaching profession” (p.4). • “Teachers have had few opportunities to participate in decision-making …” (ibid, p.26). • “… the standards that are most likely to promote the best professional learning are profession-defined, rather than developed to serve the purposes of individual employers or other agencies. The former promote engagement, the latter compliance” (ibid,p.87).
… it is just when teachers are not permitted to determine their own functions that they tend to become impractical and remote from reality. As long as the so-called experts determine the terms of reference according to which they must function, they will never be able to turn out practical individuals who are equipped for life by their education (Steiner, 1919, p.12).
National Professional Standards for Teachers Three domains of teaching: • Professional Knowledge • Professional Practice • Professional Engagement Four career stages of Professional Capability: • Graduate • Proficient • Highly Accomplished • Lead
AITSL NATIONAL PROFESSIONAL STANDARDS FOR TEACHERS PROFESSIONAL KNOWLEDGE • Know students and how they learn • Know content and how to teach it PROFESSIONAL PRACTICE • Plan for and implement effective teaching and learning • Create and maintain safe and supportive learning environments • Assess, provide feedback and report on student learning PROFESSIONAL ENGAGEMENT • Engage in professional learning • Engage professionally with colleagues, parents and community
Proactive Planning: National Professional Standards for Teachers in the Steiner school context Responsibility for the development and application of professional standards enables the profession to extend control over its Professional Learning. • What does this mean in the SEA and Steiner school context? • What do we think about “national professional standards”? • How do we chooseto define our profession? • How do we extend control over our Professional Learning? • What does Professional Learning mean for the Steiner teacher in the classroom?
Current challenges for PL in Steiner Schools The Low Dream • Teachers are time poor; • Conferences and workshops are run on an ad hoc basis: topics and themes change with the varying needs of the school and classroom context; • There is little or no carry through from conference and workshop learning: training transfer is low; • Teachers work alone in classrooms – there may not be much time allocated for shared collegial critical reflection; • Individual and shared collegial critical reflection is not always valued? (teachers may be ‘edgy’ about review?); • Reflexivity is associated with employment review; • Artistic workshops rival study; • Philosophical concepts underpinning Steiner education are complex and inaccessible for some teachers.
The High Dream Steiner Indications for Teachers’ Professional Learning Steiner lecturing in the Carpentry Workshop c.1915 (Kulgler, 2003).
Implications for PL of the Threefold Model • Child development is based on a soul-spiritual understanding of the human being; • Research related to child development feeds curriculum planning and development; • Research is undertaken individually and shared collegially; • Creativity, freedom and ethical individualism are highly valued; • Teachers follow a spiritual pathway of development.
Artistic and meditative training is understood to develop the following attributes as prerequisites for deepened soul-spiritual investigation and research: • Heightened sensory awareness • Imagination and Intuition (Initiative in action) • Clarity in thinking • Love as a form of cognition (Heart Intelligence)
Living in three worlds As a human being I bear within myself the physical, the soul, the spiritual world. Physical world Human Being Animal Plant (Steiner, 12th August 1924, Blackboard Drawing, Torquay)
Personal development and Professional Learning complement and inform each other.
The studies that a spiritual-scientific education undertakes have as their aim a more intimate knowledge of thehuman being. If you then think about these things in meditation you cannot help affecting their continued action within yourself. (Steiner, Balance in Teaching).
Contemplation of the smallest Meditation must not involve a mood which says: I want to settle down inwardly into a warm nest … What is needed is a contemplation of the small, indeed of the smallest. In me is God I am in God Steiner Blackboard Drawing1924 (Kugler, (Ed.), 2003).
Teacher Research College study must start from teachers sharing their experience in the classroom… The chief purpose of the college meeting is to be a permanent teacher education ‘academy’ (Steiner, cited by Gladstone 1987, p.2).
The Waldorf School must be a true cultural deed through which the renewal of the entire structure of society must echo… The teachers of the Waldorf School must follow their own initiatives but strive to always be in harmony with the entire group. This is something which needs to be learned… It is everyone’s task to be responsible and wakeful – this is the new challenge” (Steiner, 1919, p.12 )
There is a universal rule we must never forget: rhythm restores power.
Based on the premise that it is possible to gain knowledge of the world through a “science of the spirit”, Steiner further developed Goethe’s phenomenology into an epistemology that supports “living thinking”. I strove for insight into the relation between the creation of natural phenomena and human thinking… the question concerning the scope of the human power of thought constantly occupied me. I felt that thinking could be developed into a power which takes hold of the things and processes in the world directly within itself (Steiner, An Autobiography, 1977).
A Research Methodology based on Living Thinking Hoffman builds on Goethe’s phenomenology and Steiner’s epistemology by describing four stages of “living thinking” (2007, pp.7-9). He observes that modelling, music, poetry and the art of speech have a vital role to play in Goethean phenomenology.
Physical thinking, the thinking that develops from an appreciation of cause and effect processes in nature and the laws of nature. Imagination: the transformation of the human sculptural sensibility into an organ for understanding the plastic nature of organic form, how living things are molded into existence. Inspiration: metamorphosis of the musical sensibility into a faculty for understanding the gestural structure of organisms. Intuition: transformation of the poetic sense. The formative idea in living form comes to light.
Let us especially keep before us the thought, which will truly fill our hearts and minds, that connected with the present day spiritual movement are also spiritual powers that guide the cosmos. When we believe in these good spiritual powers they will inspire our lives and we will truly be able to teach (Discussions with Teachers, 1919, p.182).
The importance of making teachers’ practice, and evidence about practice, the site for professional learning is the main recommendation in the Ingvarson report. College study must start from teachers sharing their experience in the classroom… The chief purpose of the college meeting is to be a permanent teacher education ‘academy’. A paradoxical situation? Steiner’s main indication is now coming to meet us ‘from the world’ … Have we effectively fulfilled this imperative?
Contemporary Recommendations of Steiner educational researchers We need to develop a Research Strategy for Steiner Education. A strong oral culture of educational practice based on dialogue, one that may be built upon, exists in schools. It needs, however, to be voiced and to be embedded in a continuous written culture of research and inquiry (Hugo, 2006).
Ultimately, we need public research in order to communicate and have dialogue regarding Steiner education in a world in which education — lifelong and flexible — has a growing focus of attention for governments and for business corporations. The survival of Steiner’s impulse for a genuinely human and humane education relies on such a dialogue (Hugo, 2006).
Towards an expanded concept of Action Research Hugo (2004) recommends that an Action Research program would encourage practitioners to work together with a team of researchers, to translate the practical questions posed the teachers (e.g. how can we achieve this or solve that) into research framed questions (e.g. what do we need to know in order to be able to achieve this or solve that?) and to receive advice on how to use appropriate research methods, which could include the full range of statistical tests to qualitative, in-depth interviews.
The Dilemmas of Teacher Research “I feel disturbed and unsettled. … Although I set out with the intention of exploring children’s learning, I (inevitably of course) ended up, examining my own teaching too. Now … I feel drawn towards considering these more disturbing ideas related to teaching, rather than the really quite positive and encouraging things I have discovered about learning” (Strauss, 2002).
Questions of a teacher researcher: • Am I the teacher I think I am? Is there a gap between my espoused principles and my actual practice? • How can I as a researcher come to terms with the feelings of despair that an inquiry into my practice is likely to generate? • How can I as a teacher and a teacher-researcher come to terms with being pulled in different … directions by the established educational systems … and my own visions?
Recommendations Include the following in PL programs: • Courses that respond to the current needs of the school and classroom context; • Follow-through from learning gained in SEA and mainstream conferences and workshops (reporting, sharing, revising, applying theory).
Courses focused on self-development and skills relating to: Meditation Communication Counselling Pastoral care of students Critical reflection Facilitation Leadership
Regular artistic workshops; • Work towards the registration of Professional Development courses and the certification of artistic programs.
An on-going course that is run annually that provides an overview and/or review of the main philosophical concepts underpinning Steiner education (introductory for new teachers and deepening for experienced teachers).
Develop a culture of on-going teacher research; • Teach teachers how to do research; • Separate teacher evaluation related to employment from the practice of teacher reflexivity and collegial research.
Time to sit back and ponder … Enjoy the break!