10 SES 04 B, Research on Professional Knowledge & Identity in Teacher Education
Thousands of years ago Aristotle presented a classification of knowledge, which divided the whole complex of human knowledge into three forms. These were episteme (scientific knowledge), techne (skill and crafts) and phronesis (often translated as practical wisdom) (see e.g. Gustavsson, 2000). For student teachers the episteme could be the study of pedagogy, with theories and concepts, which is often the main focus of campus education. The techne form concerns the skills and methods that teachers use in a classroom. During the training periods of a teacher education, both episteme and techne get a great deal of attention. There has often been a general interpretation that it is only after a good base of episteme and techne you can develop phronesis; that understanding of knowledge suggests that there is hierarchy within the knowledge forms. In this presentation, we challenge this interpretation and traditional use of Aristotle’s classification of knowledge.
We propose a model where episteme, techne and phronesis are three dimensions in an orthogonal model, the three dimensions together forming the complexity of knowledge and competence. We aim to show how these three dimensions co-exist, intertwine and co-develop on the path to competence, with examples both from the journey that life is and the journey that student teachers make on their way through the teacher education. We aim to discuss what knowledge student teachers have at the start of the teacher education and what they gain on the road to professional understanding, forming their identity and becoming a part of the teacher community. We show how the “becoming a teacher”- process develops, using our three-dimensional model.
This presentation also discusses the development of this knowledge as situated learning, using ideas from Jean Lave & Etienne Wenger (Lave & Wenger, 1991; Säljö, 2016). They don’t consider learning and knowledge as something that comes from the outside and is brought into people’s minds. Lave thinks that knowledge is integrated in different practices, with special traditions, artefacts and situated preconditions (Säljö, 2000). We propose that this is also true for student teachers, as they enter the professional community as laymen, going on to being apprentices, until they finally reach mastery and professional understanding and identity.
The development of the model, is a result of a hermeneutic process. That means that years of acquaintance and discussion about Aristotle’s forms of knowledge, has led to a reinterpretation. The hermeneutic process involves a thinking where the diversity of interpretations and understandings can collide and give inspiration to new thoughts (Ricoeur, 1974). Central in the hermeneutic approach is that the meaning of a segment can only be understood when it is associated to the whole context and vice versa, the essence of the totality must be understood from the study of its parts (Alvesson & Sköldberg, 2008). Important in hermeneutics is also the hermeneutic circle process, which is more like a spiral, consisting of alternating between studying the whole and studying the parts, to gain deeper understanding (Alvesson & Sköldberg, 2008). Therefor this is an ongoing process, which provides new possibilities for understanding and classifying the development of knowledge and competence.
Aristotle’s forms of knowledge is one categorization, one can use to understand the development of professional competence in for example a teacher education. Our experience has shown that we disagree with the traditonal interpretation of how these knowledge forms evolve. We have started to use this model in some research, so that we in more detail can elaborate the understanding of how student teachers go from college pupils, through pre-service training to full service teachers. The initial results in using this model, looks promising. Even so, we believe that this model will have an even more profound future as an instrument in analyzing a teacher education. It gives us a tool to look at what knowledge the students get at different arenas of the education (campus, training periods, etc) and a deeper understanding for how these arenas must collaborate. The model invites us to look at what do we give the students of episteme, techne and phronesis in detail. Then we must ask ourselves is there enough of all types of knowledge and do the pieces come in the best order, so they can become masters of the trade. We hope that the presentation will invite or even provoke the audience to an interesting discussion.
References Alvesson, M. & Sköldberg, K. (2008) Tolkning och reflektion. Vetenskapsfilosofi och kvalitativ metod. Andra upplagan. Lund: Studentlitteratur. Lave, J. & Wenger, E. (1991) Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press. Ricoeur, P. (1974) The Conflict of Interpretations: Essays in Hermeneutics. Evanston, United States: Northwestern University Press. Säljö, R. (2016) Læring – en introduksjon til perspektiver og metaforer. Oslo: Cappelen Damm Akademisk.
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