Source: Journal of Education for Teaching, Volume 36, Issue 4, pages 477 – 493. (November 2010).
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
This article provides an account of the processes leading to the report Transforming teacher education. Redefined professionals for 21st century schools. The report was the first study commissioned by the International Alliance of Leading Education Institutes.
This paper traces the rationale for the IA, identification of institutional members, and the intended goals and objectives of the IA.
The paper also articulates the distinctive collegial process and key decisions involved in the identification of themes, the different contributions of scholars, and the unique challenges of consolidating the vast amount of information across different contexts, languages and cultures.
The report attempted to strongly reflect widely varying contexts and responses in teacher education in Asia, Europe, Brazil, Canada and the USA given key global imperatives.
The report made a collective argument for strong reforms and more research-based initiatives in teacher education and development to better meet new educational challenges and problems posed by several key drivers at the global level.
The key drivers identified were the rapid pace of economic integration; technological advances; the global competition for talent; the persistence of underachievement, especially among minority and marginalised populations; increasingly diverse classrooms; and heightened expectations for schooling among key stakeholders.
The report recognised that these drivers of change impact countries in vastly different ways at the national level, due to each country's unique social contexts, economic trends, political issues, diverse cultural sensitivities and education histories. The report acknowledged that national school systems confront the need to simultaneously attend to these specific national educational issues as well as to ensure that international research and best practices can be brought to bear on persistent educational problems.
The report made four key assertions.
First, that teachers' work need to be recognised as complex and demanding and that the profession commit to a redefined professionalism that will enable teachers to better meet instructional and professional challenges.
Second, the idea of a redefined professionalism stems initially from the need for an education system to be innovative in attracting high quality and representative applicants and in constantly improving the design and delivery of initial teacher education programmes.
Third, this initial teacher education component has to be further supported by a widened framework for teacher induction adopted to build upon foundational skills and that diverse opportunities are created for more relevant, powerful and teacher-owned professional development.
Finally, in order for teaching professionals to meet new challenges well, new partnerships which government can help resource, facilitate and, where appropriate, initiate are required.
The authors argue that their experiences working on the IA report demonstrate the efficacy of this model of international collaboration and research. The reality of significant context and cultural differences enabled us to give voice to different trajectories in the development of teacher education and ways in which concepts like teacher professionalism are understood in vastly different contexts.
From a macro view, the IA collaboration provided an opportunity to test the ability of scholars in different political and pedagogic contexts to work together, dialogue and provide cross-national perspectives on a wide range of education topics. This thus provides scholars in different locations an opportunity to update and refine their knowledge base.