The nature of initial teacher education is currently contested and has been for many years. This is not the first and probably will not be the last book to begin with such a judgement. Questions as to the form and nature of a professional training, the essential skills, knowledge and attitudes desired of an effective teacher, the most suitable locus of expertise, the relative roles of participants and the balance between theory and practice are certainly not new or recent, but have long been rehearsed by educationists, policy makers, teachers and trainers alike. In the context of teacher training, past and present, any sense of a coherent, consistent or united system of training, in which the various academic, practical and theoretical strands have been successfully reconciled has proved an elusive goal. Arguably the current juncture of teacher education is fraught with fundamental tensions. Increasing government control of teacher education, shifts towards school-based initial training, the threatened position of higher education institutions, the introduction of a technicist and skills-based training, a mandatory national curriculum for trainee teachers and assessment against prescriptive standards and, recently, a set of expected outcomes, have all contributed to a climate of uncertainty, anxiety, hostility and ideological polarization, particularly in relation to higher education institutions, which have long had the responsibility for training teachers.
A distinctive feature of this book is that it moves beyond current tensions over what constitutes a sound and proper start to a career in teaching and seeks instead to locate these within a historical perspective. By exploring the potential merging of principle and practice across key moments in time, this book illustrates hitherto unexamined connections between the present state of teacher education in the United Kingdom and past models of practice. In particular, the book will focus on elements of professional preparation that actively sought to promote a viable working balance between the potentially oppositional strands of theory and practice, art, science or craft.
In his work on the history of English pedagogy and educational theory, Simon identified five key periods, of which the period 1870-1920 stands