Power to Teach: Learning through Practice

By Wendy Robinson | Go to book overview

3

THE TEACHER AS TRAINER

This chapter will focus on the role played by serving teachers in initial teacher education. Historians have tended to give serving teachers little credit for their direct contribution to initial teacher training. For example, Dobson has suggested that, '…teacher education has indeed seemed narrow and conservative in the past, rarely finding its own initiative'. 1 For most of the nineteenth century professional training had an overriding school-based theme and was firmly rooted in an apprenticeship model of initial preparation. It will be argued that the pupil-teacher apprenticeship scheme, for all of its numerous weaknesses, did, by the end of its life, have something important to offer an emergent teaching profession in search of autonomy, self-regulation and control. New departures in apprenticeship through the pupil-teacher centres promoted an embryonic form of partnership between teachers and trainers and celebrated the expert-novice relationship. From the early years of the twentieth century, the increasing alienation of the teaching profession from the training of future teachers can be identified as a contributing factor to the damaging polarization between professional sites of expertise-between those who teach in schools and those who train teachers. Links will be made with current models of partnership and mentoring which, whilst seeking to redress some of this professional alienation, continue to struggle with deep-seated cultural and attitudinal barriers.

There are four parts to the chapter. First, the long historical tradition of the teacher as trainer through the apprentice pupil-teacher system of the nineteenth century will be outlined. Secondly, the refinement of this model through partnership between schools and pupil-teacher centres in the reformed pupil-teacher system of the later nineteenth and early twentieth centuries will be discussed. Thirdly, residual notions of the teacher as trainer throughout the remainder of the twentieth century will be examined. Finally, these historical developments will be set against the recent revival of school-based mentoring and partnership schemes which have shaped initial teacher training since the 1990s.

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