03 SES 04 A, Can Educational Knowledge Be Powerful? Part 1
Symposium to be continued in 03 SES 06 A
Courses in the foundations of education have long been sidelined and continue to be at risk in many teacher education programs across the United States while, in England, the foundation disciplines have become increasingly marginalised (Whitty 2014). This is due to accreditation requirements and teacher education reforms that privilege practice (reductively conceived) over the research and theory that helps teachers to think critically about what Sadovnik, Cookson and Semel (2013) refer to as the ‘what’ and ‘why’ behind the most pressing issues in contemporary education. The ‘decline of foundations’ has been happening across both countries for at least two decades. In the United States, a neoliberal educational agenda emphasising markets and accountability has resulted in outcomes based curricula and performance-based assessments such as edTPA, alternative certification routes modelled after Teach for America and the NYC Teaching Fellows, and university based alternative programs such as Relay Graduate School of Education that either reduce or eliminate content in foundations of education. In England, meanwhile, we have seen the introduction of School Direct and other forms of school-based teacher education, in addition to accreditation only routes and the development of Teach First. This has been accompanied by a barrage of criticism of university schools of education and, until recently, policies intent on undermining university-led teacher education. In this paper, we aim to outline what foundations can offer in terms of understanding education and educational practice. We look critically at the struggle foundations disciplines often experience with coherence and integration in terms of both their relation to each other and to broader (philosophical or sociological, for example) thought. Finally, we begin to rethink foundations more as a (strong, disciplinary) region rather than a singular or a set of singulars (to use Bernstein’s terms), although one that is rather different from other regions. In doing so, we conclude that Bernstein’s work, in providing a rich lens to understand curricula and pedagogic practice while holding social and political issues and implications close, is a useful exemplar of the type of educational knowledge which should be at the core of the foundations of education.
Sadovnik, A.R., Cokson, P.W., & Semel, S.F. (2013). Exploring education: An introduction to the foundations of education (4th ed). New York: Routledge Whitty, G. (2014). Recent developments in teacher training and their consequences for the ‘University Project’ in education. Oxford Review of Education, 40 (4), 466-481.
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