Source: Journal of Education for Teaching, Vol. 37, No. 4, November 2011, 441–450
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
Teacher education in Norway is nationally regulated and is currently undergoing extensive changes.
The authors outline the various education routes for teachers and some of the ongoing work to improve teacher education.
The authors focus on the reform that has come the farthest: initial teacher education for grades 1–7 and grades 5–10.
There are several routes to becoming a teacher in grades 1–13.
A student can choose a four- or five-year integrated programme, specifically designed to qualify for a teaching career in grades 1–7, 5–10 or 8–13.
It is also possible to study subjects or disciplines at a college or university followed by a one-year Post-Graduate Certificate of Education (PGCE).
Today, there is no differentiated PGCE, so the same programme qualifies a person to teach in all grades from 5 to 13.
There are currently 20 institutions that provide this type of teacher education.
One of the institutions is private with public funding, and the other 19 comprise 15 public and state-owned colleges and four universities.
Of the 15 colleges, one is the Sámi University College in Kautokeino, which has a special responsibility to educate teachers who can work in Sámi language schools.
The new teacher education programmes for Norwegian and Sámi teacher education were ratified in April 2010 and came into effect in August 2010.
The reform emphasizes the importance of within-subject teaching.
Previously, the ideal had been the all-around teacher who can teach all subjects regardless of prior studies.
Mentor teachers in partner schools must also be qualified as mentor teachers now.
This was left up to the institution, and some had requirements specified whereas others did not.
The requirement now is that mentor teachers must have 15 ECTS in teacher student mentoring, and the institutions should also provide an opportunity for a further 15 ECTS course.
Another new idea in this reform is mobility.
Students should have the opportunity to study elsewhere after two years, and therefore, all programmes should meet the basic requirements of having completed 60 field practice days by the end of year 2, and the learning outcomes for years 1 and 2 in the subject Pedagogy and Learner Knowledge should be met.
International mobility is also addressed, and all programmes should stipulate one semester as an international semester.
Another area that has been dealt with specifically in the White Paper on teacher education (Ministry of Education and Research 2008–2009a) and in the Framework for the new teacher education programmes is that teacher education programmes must be research based.
There are some important concerns being addressed in current debates in Norway.
The authors discuss these concerns.
1. Recruitment and district policy
A major concern related to the new reform is how the country can be sure not only that there will be enough teachers in all parts of Norway, but also that there are enough teachers to teach the different subjects.
Institutions that offer ITE programmes have been divided into six geographical regions and one region that crosses these geographical boundaries to address responsibilities for the Sámi languages and cultures.
Institutions within the regions are expected to plan co-operation, division of labour and concentration.
ITE programmes must all meet the requirements given nationally, but their organisation and means of communication differ.
2. Research and profession orientation
Being both research and profession oriented can be perceived as controversial and may also be regarded as representing opposing forces.
The new reform for ITE stresses the obligation of the teacher educators to collaborate on student assessment during field practice, but to date there is no information on the changes or on how assessment of student teachers during field practice is being undertaken.
3. Coherence and progress in teacher education
The idea of teacher education as a continuum is gaining momentum.
The new ITE programmes for the compulsory years will provide a guide for future integrated
8–13 programmes, but the notion of integration and coherence is still a challenge.