23 SES 01 B, Teaching and Teacher Education
Teachers create the link between policy and practice and their attitude is often considered a barrier to the introduction of school reforms that affect their teaching practice. This is particularly evident in implementing new concepts or approaches, as it is recently the case with Global Citizenship Education (GCE). In this sense, teacher education could play a crucial role in implementing GCE policy, among other means, as highlighted also by UNESCO (UNESCO, 2015).
Looking at existing literature on GCE teacher education, some studies highlight teachers’ concern regarding inadequate teaching tools and resources in this field (Appleyard & McLean, 2011; Carr et al., 2014). Other stress teachers’ self-perception of not being well-prepared to handle GCE related issues and therefore they tend to avoid them in classroom activities (Niens et al., 2013). Similarly, Goren and Yemini (2017) observe that while teachers recognize the importance of GCE, they often feel trapped between curricular goals encouraging its incorporation in the classroom and cultural norms of nationalism.
From a different perspective, some authors emphasise the political role of teachers as agents of change (Milana, 2015) and stress their function in policy implementation, as policy will, or “appropriation” (Levison et al., 2009). Others consider teacher agency a critical concept in educational policy implementation (Biesta et al. 2014). In particular teacher agency is a crucial element for educational change and reform, and it recalls the teachers’ active contribution to shape their work and actively influence learning process, school setting, classroom atmosphere.
Therefore, it is worth inquiring teacher education not only as a tool to equip teachers with knowledge, skills and abilities required to improve students’ learning, but also as a way to facilitate GCE education policy process and school change. As such, teacher training is critical to empower teachers as agents of change creating paths for GCE implementation into school curriculum.
Against this theoretical framework this paper presents some results of a comparative research carried out in the framework of a EU co-funded project, inquiring the emerging processes of GCE teacher education in four European countries (Austria, Czech Republic, Ireland and Italy). Overall the study analysed 9 teacher education in-service training courses (2 per country except for Italy where the cases were 3), run by different agencies.
The research aimed at highlighting the pedagogical ideas behind the practices and exploring the link between teacher education practice and policy implementation. The broad purpose of the multinational research team was to analyse GCE teacher education practices in order to identify success factors, conditions for failure, promising and innovative practices. In this paper, I will address in particular two more focused research questions formulated according to themes emerged from the first steps of analysis:
– Where are the points of intersection and friction between the pedagogical cultures present among the actors involved in GCE teacher education?
– How is Global Citizenship Education conceptualised as a framework for teacher education?
For the purposes of this paper, the results highlighting the role of teacher agency in GCE policy implementationwill be mainly developed.
A multiple-site case study design (Yin, 2014), has been the methodology adopted in this study using ethnography as an overall methodological approach for data collection and analysis. The data collection process has been organized in four steps: (1) gaining access to the field and identification of the “gatekeeper”; (2) “preliminary round” of observation (May-June 2016); (3) “open observation” (June –December 2016); (4) “focused observation” (December 2016 -April 2017). The data set on which analysis was performed included six types of data sources, which have been collected in 2 years (2016-2017): 1. Field notes of teachers training’s session and of planning sessions among course organizers (about 300 hours of observation; 123,991 words of transcription); 2. Formal interviews both with trainers and course promoters (21 interviews); 3. Informal interviews: with key informant during observation (24 interviews); 4. Projects documents such as course leaflet, key resources used for the course, description of the course made the course organizers (n=120); 5. Visual data (pictures) taken during the training sessions (n=80); 6. Trainees’ open-ended questionnaires administered before and after training to all trainees (n=200). Data have been examined through several analytical strategies: 1. Inductive analysis producing a codebook encompassing the main emerging themes conceptually organized, subsequently used to code all data. 2. Descriptive: to interpret national national cases and to make sense of emerging patterns of behaviour. 3. Reflective interpretation (researchers’ memos). From the analysis three major themes emerged, based on both the code frequency and (mostly) on their conceptual density and their importance in describing and interpreting the key elements of the case study analyzed. Themes are the followings: A) GCE conception: The different conceptualizations that actors contributing to the organization and implementation of the course have in mind; B) Teaching approaches: The general principles, pedagogy and management strategies used for classroom instruction; C) Contrasting cultures: Different perspectives, worldviews, beliefs among stakeholders’ culture and the resulting intergroup conflicts and tensions.
Results show that teacher education is important not only to provide teachers with knowledge and competences required to educate pupils to GCE, but also for GCE implementation in school. Therefore, the predominant approach emerged in the observed teacher education settings (a values-based teacher education) can be regarded as a somehow political action to school change. Since GCE implementation cannot be reduced to a top-down political process to impose prescriptive, well-structured curricula, or a set of competences to be directly implemented into teaching practices, teacher education is necessary to foster teacher agency as well. As the recent school reform in Finland (Pyhältö, Pietarinen, & Soini, 2012) also demonstrated, teacher professional agency plays a crucial role in large-scale school reform. Teachers active contribution, can positively impact school settings and learning processes. On the contrary, prescriptive curricula or rigid didactics tend to consider teachers as passive recipients of reforms formulated elsewhere and top-down imposed. Not surprisingly, if teacher agency is not recognized, they tend to perceive themselves as not well-prepared to handle GCE related issues. To empower teachers’ agency, values play a crucial role. Therefore, a value-based approach is pivotal to engage teachers to promote school change in their context. Since NGOs and civil society are the actors who typically provide a value-based theoretical framework and assign a central role to values, their contribution is highly valuable in the teacher education processes. But in order to make this contribution effective, any effort should be done to overcome contrasts and conflicts among several actors, their sometimes contrasting values and their diverse pedagogical cultures.
Appleyard, N., & McLean, L. R. (2011). Expecting the Exceptional: Pre-Service Professional Development in Global Citizenship Education. International Journal of Progressive Education, 7, 2, 6-32. Biesta, G., Priestley, M., & Robinson, S. (2017). The role of beliefs in teacher agency. Teachers and Teaching. Theory and Practice, 21(6), 624–640. Bourn, D. (2016). Teachers as agents of social change. International Journal of Development Education and Global Learning, 7(3), 63-77. Carr, D. (2014). Four Perspectives on the Value of Literature for Moral and Character Education. The Journal of Aesthetic Education, 48(4), 1-16. Goren, H., & Yemini, M. (2017). Global citizenship education redefined – A systematic review of empirical studies on global citizenship education. International Journal of Educational Research, 82, 170–183. Milana, M. (2015). Debating Global Polity, Policy Crossing, and Adult Education. Comparative Education Review, 59, 3, 498-522. Niens, U., O’Connor, U., & Smith, A. (2013). Citizenship education in divided societies: teachers’ perspectives in Northern Ireland. Citizenship Studies, 17(1), 128–141. Levinson, B. A. U., Sutton, M., & Winstead, T. (2009). Education policy as a practice of power: Theoretical tools, ethnographic methods, democratic options. Educational Policy, 23, 6, 767-795. Pyhältö, K., Pietarinen, J., & Soini, T. (2012). Do comprehensive school teachers perceive themselves as active professional agents in school reforms? Journal of Educational Change, 13(1), 95–116. UNESCO (2015), Rethinking Education. Toward a global common good? Paris: UNESCO. Yin, R. K. (2014). Case study research: Design and methods. 5th edition. London: Sage Publication.
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