10 SES 06 E, Dialogue and Professionalism in Teaching and Learning
The 2017 ECER conference invites participants to reflect on the role of educational research in reforming education, including the imperative for constant change. The effects of reform-oriented transnational policy pressures on local and global education issues are in question. Of particular interest to us are the politics of change within teacher education – specifically how activity within teacher education might be observed to be contributing to both the reform and reification of aspects of practice in the education system.
Within the global policy context of education, teacher education is seen as a significant contributor to the educational reform agenda. The field is replete with changing expectations about schooling (see for instance, Bolstad, Gilbert, McDowell, Bull, Boyd & Hipkins, 2012, OECD, 2005b). Educators are continually responding to rounds of local, national and global calls for curriculum reform. Teacher education is the object of increasing discourse over the relationships between teacher qualifications and education system quality – including importantly, how forms of teacher education and standards within it may directly improve learner outcomes (Darling-Hamond, 2010; Furlong, 2013; Mourshed, Chijioke & Barber, 2010; OECD, 2005a).
Through our cultural historical activity theory (CHAT) study of university based initial teacher education (UBITE) in Aotearoa New Zealand (NZ) we examine how the work of teacher education contributes to education reform or not. By closely examining activity within teacher education we can observe how is change is evoked, imposed, resisted, by whom and how?
Cultural historical activity theory research provides tools for inquiring into teacher education from a deliberately materialist stance - important for considering notions of change and reform (see Sannino, Daniels & Gutiérrez, for recent examples of studies utilising activity systems analysis). Within CHAT human life is embedded within activities oriented towards objectives/objects. Activity involves the use of abstract and concrete tools – examination of these can reveal historical continuity and change within human life. In our study we examined motivations for teachers educators’ work (the objects they were working on) when they used specific tools and artifacts with student teachers in university classrooms. We also asked student teachers in university classrooms to discuss their understandings of what they were doing when they worked with specific artifacts and tools associated with schooling. By examining the tools and people’s sense of what the tools/artifacts were doing in the context of teacher education activity, we can gain insight into the success of educational reform imperatives over time. This is because the culture of the activity (in this case, education or schooling) inheres in them.
 We use the generic term schooling to refer here to education in compulsory and non-compulsory sectors of the education system. In NZ we would typically mean early childhood education, primary, secondary and post-secondary education.
Bolstad, R, Gilbert, J., McDowell, S., Bull, A., Boyd, S. & Hipkins, R. (2005). Supporting future oriented learning and teaching – a New Zealand perspective. Report to the Ministry of Education. Wellington: Ministry of Education. Darling-Hamond, L. (2010). Teacher education and the American future. Journal of Teacher Education, 61(1-2), 35-47. Ellis, V., A. Blake, J., McNicholl, & J. McNally. (2011). The Work of Teacher Education, Final Research Report. WOTE Phase 2. Oxford: Department of Education, University of Oxford. Engeström, Y. (2013). Foreword: Formative Interventions for Expansive Learning. In, J. Virkkunen & D. S. Newnham, The Change Laboratory. A tool for collaborative development of work and education. (pp.xv-xviii), Rotterdam: sense Publishers Furlong, J. (2013). Globalisation, neoliberalism, and the reform of teacher education in England. The Educational Forum, 77(1), 28-50. Gunn, A. C., Hill, M. F., Berg, D. & Haigh, M. (2016). The changing work of teacher educators in Aotearoa New Zealand: A view through activity theory. Asia Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 44(4), 306-309. Hales, A. & Clarke, A. (2016). So you want to be a teacher educator? The job advertisement as a construction of teacher education in Canada. Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 44(4), 320-332. Mourshed, M., Chijioke, C. & Barber, M. (2010). How the world’s most improved school systems keep getting better. Dubai: McKinsey. OECD, (2005a). Teachers Matter: Attracting, Developing and Retaining Effective Teachers. Paris: OECD OECD, (2005b). The definition and selection of key competencies. Executive summary. http://www.oecd.org/fr/edu/apprendre-au-dela-de-l-ecole/definitionandselectionofcompetenciesdeseco.htm, accessed 14/5/13. Paris: OECD Nuttall, J., M. Brennan, L. Zipin, K. Tuinamuana, and L. Cameron. (2013). ‘Lost in Production: The Erasure of the TE in Australian University Job Advertisements.’ Journal of Education for Teaching: International Research and Pedagogy 39 (3): 329–343. doi: 10.1080/02607476.2013.799849 Sannino, A., Daniels, H. & Gutiérrez, (2009). Learning and expanding with activity theory. New York: Cambridge Press
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