Source: Journal of Education for Teaching, Vol. 37, No. 4, November 2011, 483–499
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
This article reviewed 10 papers.
These papers demonstrated that those associated with teacher education, from the policy, research and practice arenas, are currently searching to ensure that the teachers who graduate from an increasing array of programmes, have the skills, attitudes and dispositions to support high levels of student achievement in schools.
This article considers some of the major factors that have impacted on education and subsequently teacher education in recent times.
The author argues that teaching and teacher education have become centre stage in many governments’ attempts to be successful in the global economy can be traced back to two major types of change that have happened over the past half century.
The changes, in short, are rapid and substantial improvements in technology and communication on the one hand, and an increasing globalisation of markets and mobilisation of people from one country to others, on the other.
The article then focuses on how standards, for schools, for the people in them and for teacher education, have been used to drive improvement in many parts of the world.
The author finds that there are national expectations for student achievement, national standards for teachers, and national standards for school leaders in many countries.
National standards for teacher education also seem to be on the agenda in many places.
In recent times, countries have used international assessments of student performance, such as TIMSS and PISA, to compare their country with others.
However, these assessments then filter down to where individual schools are held accountable if they do not have students who perform at the levels required.
Governments around the world have instituted various standards, of learning, of teaching, of leadership and of teacher education, to address these changes.
Many countries of the world, in particular the USA, the UK and Australia, have turned to a standards-driven education system as a means of improving the quality of education provided and to increase student achievements.
The author exemplifies the national curriculum as standards-driven education system in UK.
The national curriculum became a feature of the Education Reform Act of 1988 under the Thatcher government, which also saw the introduction of grant-maintained schools and locally managed schools.
He also describes the Race to the Top, the current federal policy framework for education in the USA, accepted by the Obama administration.
This policy has built on No Child Left Behind, established by President Bush in 2001 which, in turn, was built on a standards-based vision developed by the Clinton administration in 1994, when the reauthorisation of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) was written to ensure that all states had rigorous standards for all subject areas and grade levels.
Several key issues that have emerged from the reviewed articles.
The first issue is whether teaching is a craft or a profession.
It is clear that there are differing views on this held by governments in different parts of the world and there are certainly differences of opinion between some politicians and teacher educators.
This had led to many different avenues to becoming a teacher.
For instance, the Coalition government in the UK calls the process of educating teachers ‘teacher training’.
It argues for the removal of universities from the process in favour of having a school-based apprenticeship system of training.
This suggests that we can improve the overall quality of the teaching workforce by treating teaching as a craft, one that can be learned by watching and following what others do, rather than as a profession, where one needs a theoretical, ethical and practical background to be able to perform the task at the highest level.
The issue whether the role of teacher is a profession or a craft has implications on how teacher educators view themselves, as practitioners or researchers.
Most of the counties in the reviewed articles have now opted for a university-based education as being the primary place for the education of teachers.
In some of the countries there is a move towards the ‘masterisation’ of the teaching profession.
But for this to happen, teacher educators should immerse themselves both in practice and in research.
Research must be part of the practice of teacher educators.
This creates difficulties in the current climate, when governments and ministries are increasing the number of expectations as to what student teachers must know and thus what teacher educators must deliver, and simultaneously, universities are expecting teacher educators to be just as involved in research as members of other faculties.
Finally, this review describes the lack of trust being shown by politicians and communities in number of countries to both teachers and teacher educators.