01 SES 14 A, Policy, Politics and Practice: The ‘Fast Policy’ of Initial and Continuing Teacher Education
In the Swedish national educational policy context, raising teacher status and quality has become an important issue. One way of raising the status of teachers is to enhance their participation in research; however, whether and how research should involve teachers is a contested area in Sweden. In this educational policy landscape, some experienced teachers decided to undertake a Master programme in action research as a way to strengthen their knowledge, and maybe take new steps in their teaching career. In the research presented here, I draw upon insights from teachers participating in such a programme at the University of Gothenburg. The programme included lectures given in evenings to enable teachers to study at the same time as they worked. The programme was run over four years, and was undergirded by the principles of collaborative action research, with close connections to Nordic traditions of folk enlightenment and bildung. Specifically, we wanted to know if professional learning from the programme had led to any changes in the teachers’ practices at their schools, and in what ways that was connected to them studying within the programme. We interviewed seven teachers who had finished the programme. Drawing upon the theory of practice architectures (Kemmis et al., 2014), we focused on the arrangements both at the schools but also in the Master programme, that fostered their learning and development, and how such development and learning were expressed. The teachers described different kind of experiences within the programme and at their schools which revealed what had nurtured and constrained their practices, and evidence of how they had grown through the experiences. The following outcomes were revealed: 1) most teachers attained other positions during or after their graduation; 2) all of the teachers wanted to continue to support teachers’ professional learning, both their own and their colleagues; 3) all teachers declared that they had raised their self-confidence related to doing research as self-reflective and active practitioners in their school, and; 4) all teachers had appreciated the opportunity to engage in learning community with other student-teachers during their studies, and wanted to continue with those. The four aspects can be seen as ‘markers’ of collaborative action research which challenge more ‘fast policy’ approaches. These practices give different meaning to what enhancing the teacher profession means, and how these practices might be fostered.
Kemmis, S., Wilkinson, J., Edwards-Groves, C., Hardy, I., Bristol, L. & Grootenboer, P. (2014). Changing practices, changing education. Singapore: Springer Education
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