The theme for the ECER 2008 is posed in the form of a question with a central focus on the relation between teaching and learning. Furthermore it implies a shift from one state to another which suggests that this relation might be considered within a dynamic context. Accordingly EERA anticipates that contributors to the European Conference on Educational Research will find this to be an appropriate and stimulating starting point for thinking creatively about both research and education in a wider context of societal change.
The focus on change within an educational context may be seen, for example, as representing a shift of emphasis in terms of policy making, a shift of power in terms of relations between teachers and learners and/or a shift in practices in terms of teaching and learning. Furthermore such change in formal educational settings may be seen as resulting from the impact of contemporary and emerging technologies, such as wireless technology, mobile devices and social software on expectations of students and on cultures of teaching, learning and assessment. This impact can be seen at a societal, organisational and individual level with consequences for the working practices of students, teachers, researchers, administrators and other workers in educational organisations.
However in drawing attention to the relation between teaching and learning, what might the question ignore? For example, from a didactical perspective, we might consider what is to be taught and what is to be learned and why? In turn this raises questions about the role of subjects and subject didactics and also, significantly for many traditions within Europe, about the concept of Bildung. A major question that arises from any shift in practice from teaching to learning is what are the implications for teachers’ work? A further important question is what are the implications for teacher education in Europe?
This call for proposals comes soon after the decision of the European Council on measures for “sustaining and improving the quality of teacher education within a career-long perspective” . This document emphasises the changing role of teachers, who whilst retaining a traditional role for “imparting knowledge” will also “function as tutors, guiding learners on their individual pathway to knowledge”. Such changes are seen to create new demands for teachers who not only are seen to need to “develop new learning environments and approaches to teaching” but who also need “a high degree of professionalism”.