Tomorrow's Teachers: International and Critical Perspectives on Teacher Education

By Alan G. Scott; John G. Freeman-Moir | Go to book overview

Caught in the Contradictions
New Zealand Teacher Education

Joce Jesson

The state's creation of a new social settlement between labour and capital ( Roper, 1991) has led to a change in the political, social and economic relationships between the state and its teachers. As a consequence, teacher education also has changed.1 Teacher education continually draws political attention from a variety of interest groups, all with views on how to produce their ideal teacher. At the heart of most of that debate, whether from the political left or right, is the usually unexamined axiom that the nature of all learning is a direct function of some aspect or other of teaching. These aspects are tracked back to some specifiable element of teacher education, such as subject content knowledge, pedagogical skills, or the personality and attitudes of the teacher. At the same time, teacher education also has a conflict of purpose--between the enculturation of students into teachers for existing classrooms and the development of new ideas for the settings of the future. The ideal (or ideologised) teacher is a standard that few experienced teachers can meet, but it keeps being set for teacher education. As a consequence, reports proliferate that demand the achievement of the various ideals (see, for example, Education Forum, 1992; Ministry of Education, 1997; New Zealand Educational Institute, 1998; Partington, 1997).

Noeline Alcorn, Dean of the School of Education at the University of Waikato, in a review of teacher education policy ( 1998), suggests that such debate has been continuous since the Second World War. She describes the policy seesaw of government indecision between increasing academic standing and immediate teacher supply, and between increasing teachers' knowledge and cost constraints. According to Alcorn, by 1989 the New Zealand version of pre-service teacher education had adopted neither a fully university-based model as is found in England and Australia nor a fully school-based model as is advocated in parts of the United States. I believe that the New Zealand model is strongly concerned about teaching practice and immediacy and is rather light on political or philosophical concerns about education and future possibilities. What now exists is a range of teacher education programmes, each reflecting various responses to the political climate but with, as yet, no clear professionally shared philosophy of possibility.

____________________
1
Teacher education is the phrase used to describe both the pre-service (or initial education) and the ongoing professional development of teachers. In this chapter, I address pre-service teacher education, and deal with the contested politics of that settlement as it affects entry to teaching.

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