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Preparing Effective Teachers: The Theory-Practice Conundrum In Initial Teacher Education in England. Muhammad Ilyas Khan Lecturer in Education, Hazara University, Pakistan. PhD student, University of Leicester, UK Email: email@example.com
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Preparing Effective Teachers: The Theory-Practice Conundrum In Initial Teacher Education in England. Muhammad Ilyas Khan Lecturer in Education, Hazara University, Pakistan. PhD student, University of Leicester, UK Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Paper presented at TEAN conference, 18 May 2012 at Aston, Birmingham
How did it begin? Education as a process of transformation from what to what? How? Why? The teacher as a the centre of ‘educational’ process Teacher Education The ‘thinking’ teacher Source: http://www.khaledhosny.org/files/images/egyptian_education.jpg
From ‘thinking’ to ‘REFLECTION’. Who is a ‘thinking’ teacher? What is reflection? How is reflection incorporated in the PGCE and what is the impact of theory-practice interaction on the development of effective reflective teachers?
Questions being explored • What kind of initial teacher education (ITE) prepares effective, reflective teachers? • An ITE that provides more theoretical grounding to student teachers or one that prepares them on a more practical basis? Or is it the one that caters to both theory and practice in equal proportion? • What kind and form of theory helps in the effective preparation of student teachers for their profession? What is the respective role of the university and the school in effective ITE programmes? • Is the current structure of the PGCE in terms theory-practice and school-university suitable for preparing effective reflective teachers or does it need to be restructured? What are the factors that influence the theory-practice and university-school aspects of the PGCE?
Teaching Theory(Teaching as a science) Practice (Teaching as an art) Artistry/practical theorizing/Bottom-up model Critical understanding/Critical reflection Technical rationality/Top-down model Teacher as ‘transformative intellectual’ Teacher as artist/practical theoretician Teacher as technician/implementer Theory-Practice interaction Intricacy of the theory-practice interaction Three competing but not exclusive positions: 1.Technical/practical focus 2. Critical focus 3. Practical theorising/collaborative approach (McIntyre, 1993; Korthagen and Kessels, 1999; Birmingham, 2004)
Current anti-theoretical trend • A representative quote: ‘…educational theory is nothing other than the name we give to the various futile attempts that have been made over the last hundred years to stand outside our educational practices in order to explain and justify them. And what I am going to propose on the basis of this argument is that the time has now come to admit that we cannot occupy a position outside practice and that we should now bring the whole educational theory enterprise to a dignified end’. Carr (2006). • Previously O’Hear (1988) and Lawlor (1990)
The new coalition govt. policy • Teaching as ‘practical competence’ and as ‘craft’ • The idea of ‘teaching schools’ where new entrants are provided training on job and where ‘trainee teachers can observe and learn from great teachers’. Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Education. • School White Paper (2010), ‘The importance of Teaching’, supports the idea of School-based ITT and the Teach First concept
The new White Paper 2010 • Although the structure of the PGCE under this study was two-third school-based, the White Paper seems to propose taking the ITE (or rather ITT) further down the school road in a bid to ‘Reform initial teacher training, to increase the proportion of time trainees spend in the classroom, focusing on core teaching skills, especially in teaching reading and mathematics and in managing behaviour’ (DfE, 2010: 9). • White Paper and the policy of the incumbent government seem to be based more on some ideological position (or rather a superficial form of it) and less on any credible research regarding the role of theory and practice and hence of the school and the university in the preparation of beginning teachers.
Emphasis of teacher ‘training’ • The ‘what’ or subject-matter coming in the form of a centralised curriculum • The ‘how’ or teaching ‘craft’ with a focus on ‘skills’ • Possible neglect of the ‘why’ of education/teaching • A teacher is not just a subject expert such as a biologist or a chemist or a mathematician. In addition ‘The teacher needs to understand the subject in its relation to other subjects and a part of the overall education of students’ (Pearson, 1989: 147)
Main findings of this study regarding the theory-practice interaction in the PGCE • Theory and practice go together • University and school cannot be exclusively associated with either theory and practice • The balance of theory and practice and university-school is adequate • Shifting the ITE completely to school will lead to de-intellectualisation and de-professionalisation of the teaching profession and the university, therefore, has a vital role in the ITE
Theory-practice go together ‘I think the two go hand in hand and naturally you can’t say right now we have done the theory go and put into practice because I think that all part of the reflection is using the theory to inform your practice. So I think it should be a constant practice of theory feeding into the practice. But you got to have the practice; you can’t ever become a good teacher by just theorising. So I think it should be integrated…’
Cognitive ‘apprenticeship’ • ‘I actually think that to say that you have got theory and practice as two separate things is a difficult one … there is this notion of cognitive apprenticeship where um if you take apprenticeship traditionally as being something practical, you know learning as something like making furniture, or repairing cars. That apprenticeship was very practical thing; have to be done in a very practical work place. The notion of cognitive apprenticeship as far as I can see is the notion that actually is more about ways of thinking, ways of approaching things but doing it in a practical sense…’
Danger of HEI’s/University ouster from ITE • ‘… my issue with taking Higher Education out of initial teacher education, is that it actually de-intellectualises it and makes it into an apprenticeship and it gives the impression that teaching is an easy job…’ • ‘I think we have it about right in this course. We have about two-third of their time in the school. When they are in schools they are getting the practical practice but they are also doing some theory. They are not just on teaching practice because they have Directed Tasks to do, they have reading to do while they are in schools. So we don’t let them go completely by just saying off you go take over your class…’
Better balance • ‘I think how we have got it at the moment is about right in terms of the balance. But it does make for a much pressurised year and a very demanding year in terms of assignment work and practice. But we do stress the importance of theory, the importance of looking at other people’s research…’ • ‘It’s better now. It’s much more difficult now. We had a very nice year, you know we felt very much like university students, and we had a very nice leisurely time then. We had an intensive attachment to a school but only one attachment to one school. And now you have to have experience in two schools which is much better…’
Relevance: theory as suggestions for practice • ‘Previously theory was much more about things such as history of education, and all such things but less about more practically useful things such as pedagogy, psychology and learning theories. So its better now with more focus on such relevant subjects and student teachers’ professional needs…’ • ‘If you make it too academic I am worried that you lose teachers who are fantastic teachers but not very academic or not academic in the way that we see academic. They might be actually academically very good but because of the way we look at it and its all written work and then they might not just be good at written work and then they lose out…’
References • Birmingham, C. (2004) Phronesis: A model for pedagogical reflection. Journal of Teacher Education, 55 (4), 313–324. • DfE. (2010) The Importance Of Teaching. Retrieved July 7, 2011 from https://www.education.gov.uk/publications/eOrderingDownload/CM-7980.pdf • Khan, M.I. (2005c, May 15) Are All Teacher Training Programmes A Complete Waste Of Time?. DAWN, p.25 • Kessels, J. P. A. M., & Korthagen, F. A. J. (1996) The Relationship between Theory and Practice: Back to the classics. Educational Researcher, 2(5), 17-22. • Korthagen, F., & Kessels, J. (1999) Linking Theory and Practice: Changing the Pedagogy of Teacher Education. Educational Researcher, 28(4), 4-17. • Lawes, S. (2003) What, when, how and why? Theory and foreign language teaching. The Language Learning Journal, 28(1), 22-28. • Lawlor, S. (1990) Teachers Mistaught: Training in Theories or Education in Subjects?, London: Centre for Policy Studies. • McIntyre, D. (1993) Theory, Theorizing and Reflection in Initial Teacher Education. In Calderhead, J. & Gates, P. (Eds.), Conceptualizing Reflection in Teacher Development (pp.39-52), London: Falmer. • O’Hear, A. (1988) Who Teaches the Teachers?, London: Social Affairs Unit. • Pearson, A.T. (1989) The Teacher: Theory and Practice in Teacher Education, London: Routledge.