Source: Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, Vol. 44, No. 4, 320–332, 2016.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
This study explores how Canadian employment advertisements in teacher education are constructed as mediating artefacts in the relationship between potential candidates and their goal of gaining an academic position.
The authors examine the employment postings as written artefacts in an attempt to identify contradictions inherent to systems of human activity, and surface institutional priorities regarding faculty hiring policies and the staffing practices within teacher education programs.
The authors drew upon research approaches used in similar WoTE (Work of Teacher Education) studies in Britain, Australia and New Zealand. They collected Canadian university employment advertisements for positions involving teacher education posted over an eight-month period between August 2013 and March 2014.
They conducted a content analysis of the language features of the advertisements. This analysis included identifying major categories or structures of the advertisements, required and preferred candidate qualifications, position responsibilities, as well as descriptors of potential applicants’ character and aptitudes.
The present study reveals both similarities and differences with concurrent WoTE investigations in UK, Australian and New Zealand contexts. For instance, this analysis suggests that by placing emphasis on doctoral qualifications, research and scholarly engagement and achievement, nationally advertised Canadian employment postings show some similarities with Australian advertisements. The Canadian and Australian advertisements create an implied “hierarchy of prestige” that privileges certain “scholarly” forms of knowledge over other forms of knowledge. This “hierarchy of prestige”, in some instances, serves and, at other times, dismisses the particular learning and supervisory needs of pre-service teacher candidates.
However, the requirements for recent school system experience, and the inclusion of undergraduate teaching and supervision of pre-service teachers in most advertisements, suggests Canadian teacher educators face institutional expectations more aligned with WoTE findings in the United Kingdom. In United Kingdom, the teacher educator is characterised as effective classroom practitioner who moves into a “hybrid” role of teacher/researcher within the academy. The English teacher educators encounter competing institutional demands as they are expected to “do it all”. For example, teacher educators are expected to maintain an active scholarly profile, teach at undergraduate and graduate levels, supervise or lend guidance towards pre-service and other field-related activities, and cultivate institutional relationships with community partners outside of the academy.
The authors argue that Canadian education faculties appear to be preserving a commitment to the conceptualisation and enactment of teacher education as a distinctive field of research and teaching. They emphasize, however, recruiting and retaining new or senior teacher educators should be of significant concern for the public and for prospective teachers. The authors argue that pre-service teachers deserve teacher education programs in which faculty are deeply invested because of their scholarship in teacher education and because of their curiosity about how that scholarship can contribute to practice.