Source: Teaching Education, Vol. 23, No. 1, March 2012, 51–69
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
This article reports on an interview study that explored how teacher educators across different disciplines anticipate the work that must be done to produce critical professionals to teach the new Australian curriculum.
The analysis reveals how teacher educators described professional dilemmas around curricular selection, sequence and pacing, and sought to resolve such dilemmas between the anticipated changes and their preferences for what might or should have been.
The research question informing the broader study was: ‘How will teacher educators prepare pre-service teachers to teach the national curriculum?’.
The research design used semi-structured interviews to explore the teacher educators’ approach to the new Australian curriculum.
Participants were experienced teacher educators involved in the Phase One Australian curriculum subject areas from public Australian universities.
Two lecturers working in each of the history, mathematics and science curricular areas, and three from the English were interviewed, producing a total of nine hour-long interviews
The analysis of the interview data found that the teacher educators were critical readers of the Australian curriculum documents, monitoring its development and implications closely.
Eight of the nine teacher educators expressed some degree of dilemma when their own expertise and curricular values did not align with the dominant values shaping the new official curriculum.
Accordingly, they planned to resolve these dilemmas via the discursive gap and its generative potential.
These teacher educators perceived their role as responsible for preparing pre-service teachers for global contexts and careers, for settings beyond the immediate political concerns of here-and-now.
However, the authors argue that the key role for the teacher educator is exposing preservice teachers to how curriculum settlements are brokered politically, then how they could always be otherwise.
This study also described additional dilemmas the educators expressed around political expedience, professionalism and assessment imperatives which could be considered products of the times with common standardisation agendas, and the political consolidation of educational governance.
The authors summarize the differences indicated across the four curriculum areas sampled: English teacher educators seemed mostly concerned about political interference in educational matters; history teacher educators seemed mostly concerned about the status of knowledge in the proposed curriculum; a maths educators had concerns around the rationale for selection of curricular content; and science educators were concerned about personal relevance and the pedagogical implications of over-selection of content.
The authors suggest that a comparative perspective across subject areas can help articulate how the knowledge conditions, curricular politics, dilemmas and disciplinary values within subject areas can create similar yet different responses and fractured perspectives on systemic change.
These teacher educators expressed concern about the overt political motivations of the Australian curriculum and about the shrinking power of the teacher education field under a singular, more powerful, centralised official curriculum.