The Allegiance and Experience of Student Literacy Teachers in the Post-Compulsory Education Context: Competing Communities of Practice

Mar. 30, 2010

Source: Journal of Education for Teaching International research and pedagogy, Volume 36 Issue 1 (2010). p. 5 – 17.

This article contributes to a body of work that addresses the process of 'becoming a teacher'. Hence, the article focuses on the relationship of the higher education (HE) (theoretical) component of the teaching qualification to the (practical) placement experience that student teachers undertake.

This study approaches the data through the concept of 'community of practice' aiming to interrogate its usefulness as a theoretical idea that can illuminate the experience of student teachers.

The participants are student teachers studying on a Post Graduate Certificate in Education, Post-Compulsory Education (PGCE PCE) for teachers of adult literacy course in the UK.

The 'community of practice' concept has been widely used to describe the process whereby student teachers gain entry into a professional identity via 'situated learning'. The idea is attractive, suggesting as it does that there is a strongly communicative dimension to learning how to teach and that an apprenticeship-type relationship - in which culture and values are shared - is possible.

This article originates from a small-scale research project that used a collaborative methodological approach.
It considers some broad applications of the communities of practice concept from the literature as applied to post-compulsory education teacher education.
Then, drawing on ethnographic data from a cohort of pre-service literacy student teachers, the article goes on to suggest an alternative model of such a community.

The central perspective which the article posits is that it is possible to achieve shared understandings about what it means to be a literacy teacher in further education (FE) settings in a localised community of practice (the tutor group itself).
However, one of the cohesive forces that helps sustain such a community is that it defines itself against many of the cultural norms that have taken root in the current culture of FE colleges in England, not least among Skills for Life teachers.

Updated: Sep. 19, 2010