Source: Teaching and Teacher Education, Volume 30, (February 2013), p. 109-119.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
This article investigates empirically the degree of difference between teacher educators’ and practicing teachers’ views, using a Norwegian survey sample of teacher educators and teachers.
The data used here are taken from two surveys distributed by email in 2008: Teacher Educator Data 1 (TeData 1) and Teacher Educator Data 2 (TeData 2).
2205 teachers responded on TeData 1 survey during summer of 2008 .
Of these respondents, 218 had 3 years of experience or less and were defined as novices in the analyses .
The responses of these 218 teachers were compared with those of the 677 teachers with 8-15 years of experience.
The respondents who answered on TeData 2 survey were 547 teacher educators from teacher education institutions in Norway.
The results reveal that all three groups - teacher educators, novice teachers and experienced teachers - recognize the importance of possessing both practical skills and academic knowledge in achieving success.
However, teacher educators with a PhD were somewhat more negative toward practical knowledge.
Furthermore, teacher educators rated curriculum knowledge as being more important than teachers in schools, and experienced teachers rated it as being more important than novice teachers.
In terms of attitudes toward inclusion, a different profile emerged for the three groups.
First of all, teacher educators’ attitude toward inclusion differed significantly from those of the two groups of teachers.
The results showing that novice teachers are more like teachers in schools than their teacher educators and that novice teachers do not seem to be particularly positive toward inclusion.
This finding could indicate that novice teachers find it more difficult to adapt their teaching to the various demands that inclusive practices raise.
However, the results also suggest that the more time teacher educators spent teaching in their position the less positive they were toward inclusion.
The results show that teacher educators’ area of specialization has several effects.
Teacher educators with a background in natural sciences, humanities and social sciences consider academic knowledge to be less important than those with a background in education.
Teacher educators with a background in education are more positive toward inclusion.
In addition, teacher educators with experience in teaching in school are more positive toward inclusion.
These findings suggest that teacher educators with a background in education are a distinct group in terms of their attitudes and beliefs.
The findings of this paper illustrate that the differences among groups within the teaching profession are perhaps smaller than expected.
Nevertheless, differences do exist, especially with regard to the understanding of the ethical demands and dilemmas in teaching.
Teacher education can play an important role in correcting and balancing the demands of a hectic workplace, like those found in most schools.
The results presented here indicate that the starting point for political/ scientific discussions should not be based on the claim that teacher education is out of step with the realities of teaching.
Furthermore, setting the goals for teacher education should not be based on an emphasis on transferability, internationalization and employability, instead of the curriculum approaches that focus on the integration of practical, normative and theoretical skills and knowledge, in order to prepare students for practical reasoning.