This paper discusses to what extent students of teaching in early entry teacher education programs experience their work environment as a stimulating learning environment. The results indicate that in most schools opportunities for learning are incidental and not in the form of labour. Student teachers are not gently introduced into the practice of teaching, gradually taking more responsibilities and becoming experts. Besides, the core of the practices for teachers is enacted in classrooms where student teachers are left to their own devices. However, autonomy is highly valued but double-edged: a source of motivation and isolation. Furthermore, when knowledge exchange, reflection and problem solving occur, they have little prospect of improving student teachers’ conceptual knowledge and deep understanding.