Horse Riding 101: The Role of Experience in Reframing Teacher Education Practices

Apr. 02, 2011

Source: Studying Teacher Education, Vol. 7, No. 1, April 2011, 65–75
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

Using self-study approach, the author was interested to learn about teaching teachers.
The author positioned herself as a novice in the unfamiliar context of learning to ride a horse.
In this article, the author shares some of the lessons she learned about teacher education by analysing the experience of being a novice.

Being a complete novice enabled the author to gain a perspective on aspects of the learning process, which she was then able to feed into discussions with her students and use to deepen her understanding of how her students were learning to teach.
The author recorded her experiences in an electronic journal and analysed what happened over many months of weekly horse-riding lessons.


Two themes emerged through pattern analysis.

The first theme to emerge through the author's early journal entries was empathy for her students’ anxiety and vulnerability when learning a new skill with such high stakes.
Her empathy towards her students’ novice status continued to grow through her experiences of learning.

The second theme was the fact that the author had fallen but got back in the saddle with renewed confidence spoke volumes about learning.
The students recognised that they were capable of taking setbacks in their stride and that they too could get back up to continue teaching.

Reframing Practice
Re-imagining herself as a novice in a different context has enabled the author to better understand the learning journey that her students experience.
The author's conception of the role that experience plays in learning to teach has changed significantly through repositioning herself as a learner.
The author understood that having a teacher with the expertise to help her learn from her experience in the arena improved her confidence and riding skills immeasurably.
It is a role that associate teachers most often play in student teachers’ development when they are on practicum.

The author concludes that her role as a teacher educator is to provide opportunities and means for her students to explore how complex and nuanced teaching is.
By doing so, they can continue to develop their own expertise long after they have graduated from the course.

Updated: Dec. 03, 2013