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

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

Leaders, Managers and Makeovers The Production of Teachers as Corporate Professionals

Erica McWilliam

I recently wrote a booklet called How to Survive Best Practice. The text was written to satirise the rhetoric of downsizing, de-layering, restructuring and risk management--the corporate-speak that is the hallmark of the efficient and effective workplace. In the booklet there are no academic references, no allusions to definitive studies, no attempts to define progressive pedagogy, no exhortations to teachers to be more critically reflective or to empower their students or to help others reach their full potential. Rather, I deliberately used misinformation, distortion and satire to make trouble for those who engage in professional development under the rubric of 'best practice'. It is, therefore, the sort of text one would not expect to find in any official list of sources for initial and in- service teacher education.

I have since been approached by not one but several teacher educators expressing interest in using this booklet as a reference in their foundational Bachelor of Education subjects. In what follows, I want to consider how it might have become possible to think that such a text could be valuable as a critical source in teacher education. I will not be arguing that this possibility arises because of declining standards in universities or low literacy levels among teacher trainees. Nor will I argue that it is a simple matter of teacher educators adding a bit of humorous garnish to an unpalatable pedagogical roast. The logic of my argument is that what counts as relevant educative material for the social production of teachers is changing in a number of key ways, according to new imperatives to recast the teacher as a corporate professional.

I begin by examining the socio-cultural conditions under which a new kind of corporate pedagogical identity is being produced. To do so, I make a double move to include both a 'big picture' explanation for what is occurring, and a close-up scrutiny of how the imperative to corporatise is at work in teacher education policy shifts in Australia. I then consider how current shifts might affect teacher education in terms of who the service providers might be and where teacher education might be delivered and how. Increasingly, it seems that the key providers will not be academics, pedagogical events will not necessarily be on-campus, and ICTs (information and communication technologies) may play a major part in the pedagogical processes involved. Of course, it is clear that academics have long been losing a grip on the political agenda for the professional development of teachers, but the link between

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