01 SES 06 A, Critical Perspectives on Professional Learning: Re-framing the future
This round table will draw on discussions started amongst members of the Editorial Board of the journal Professional Development in Education (PDiE). The Board continues to ask critical and complex questions about how professional learning is conceptualised, framed and enacted in practice (see, for example, Boylan et al., 2018). We want to move the discussion beyond sharing research which identifies and helps to explain ‘good’ professional learning to interrogating how our understandings of ‘good’ have been shaped. We want to engage in discussion about how alternative approaches to professional learning might look in the future and how we might better understand these possibilities from a research perspective. This round table is therefore a discussion for anyone interested in professional learning theory, policy and practice.
The discussion will provide an opportunity for participants from within and beyond Europe to conceptualise and contextualise current approaches to professional learning and to develop ideas about the kinds of research we might need in order to understand and support this future-oriented agenda. We want to explore ideas around the kinds of theory we currently draw on and what alternative theoretical insights we might apply to the field of professional learning. We want to think deeply and critically about who shapes professional learning and to what ends. We want to explore the role that history, politics and economics play in creating a set of ‘norms’ for professional learning research and practice. Above all else, we want to create a space to think critically and creatively and to identify and name hegemonic practices in a field generally considered to be much more benign (Trippestad et al., 2017).
The session will start with brief inputs from members of the Editorial Board shaped around a series of provocative and searching questions:
- What/who influences professional learning policy at global, national and local levels, and how well do we understand this power dimension? (Howard Stevenson, University of Nottingham, England)
- What theoretical tools do we have for understanding professional learning, and how adequate are they? (Ken Jones, University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Wales)
- How are professional learning and leadership policy and practice currently positioned, and what are the implications for different ways of framing professional learning? (Sue Swaffield, University of Cambridge, England)
- How might we re-imagine the ways that we evaluate and account for professional learning? (Fiona King, Dublin City University, Republic of Ireland)
- How might we re-imagine practitioner research as an instrument for professional development and beyond? (Anja Swennen, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
- What hegemonic practices shape current approaches to professional learning and might different conceptions of professional learning support a fairer society? (Aileen Kennedy, University of Edinburgh, Scotland)
These questions will serve to stimulate discussion amongst participants and provide an opportunity for ideas to be considered from a wide range of national contexts. Discussion will also seek to identify further provocative questions that have not yet been asked, contributing to the wider education debate in which professional learning sits (Ball, 2017).
This session is designed to be searching and critical, and will require all participants to move beyond the ‘assumptive worlds’ (Marshall et al., 1985) which shape their own personal understandings of professional learning. By generating conversation amongst participants from a range of different countries it is intended that this process will become more productive.
Ball, S. (2017). The education debate. Bristol: Policy Press. Boylan, M., Coldwell, M., Maxwell, B. and Jordan, J (2018) Rethinking models of professional learning as tools: a conceptual analysis to inform research and practice Professional Development in Education Volume 44(1). 120-139. Marshall, C., Mitchell, D., & Wirt, F. (1985). Assumptive worlds of education policy makers. Peabody Journal of Education, 62(4), 90-115. DOI: 10.1080/01619568509538493 Trippestad, T.A., Swennen, A., & Werler, T. (2017). The struggle for teacher education. In The struggle for teacher education (pp. 1-16 ). London: Bloomsbury Press.
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