Academic journal article Journal of Teacher Education

Understanding Teacher Education in an Era of Globalization

Academic journal article Journal of Teacher Education

Understanding Teacher Education in an Era of Globalization

Article excerpt

The growth of a global economy, which has spurred fierce competition among many nations hoping to make economic advances, is changing social, political, and economic landscapes as well as the educational systems within these nations (Stromquist & Monkman, 2000). In the United States, these changes exert continual pressures to alter the ways in which public schools prepare their citizenry for work (Burbules & Torres, 2000) and the characteristics of classrooms where these preparations are actualized (Garcia, Arias, Murri, & Serna, 2010). Consequently, changes in school functions and classroom characteristics are engendering changes in teaching and teacher education so that the United States can contend with the challenges emerging from globalization (Darling-Hammond & Cobb, 1996).

The research community can help policy makers make informed decisions related to globalization, teaching, and teacher education. First, it is important to describe the realities of globalization and its impacts on schools, teachers, and teacher education to help policy makers and practitioners develop a deep understanding about them. Second, it is critical to conceptualize the issues and problems emerging from these realities and to develop theoretical assumptions that are useful to policy makers and to practitioners for developing and implementing effective teaching practices. Third, it is necessary to verify empirically these concepts and assumptions so that potentially detrimental consequences of policy decisions and practices may be mitigated.

Over the years, two competing perspectives have surfaced that conceptualize the realities of globalization and the relevant problems for education. Each proposes different solutions to these problems (Torres, 2002). Each offers strong yet differing implications for changing teaching and teacher education, and each faces challenges from increasingly diverse classrooms that stem, in part, from the global economy. By exploiting various resources, attracting cheap labor, and exploring potential markets throughout the world, the global economy contributes to increased migrations from poor to rich areas, from rural areas to cities, and from developing countries to those that are developed (Garcia et al., 2010). These migrations create and intensify culturally, racially, and socioeconomically diversified student populations in many countries, which further complicates the responsibility of school systems to prepare their students for or against globalization, especially in the United States (Banks, 2008).

The first is an economic imperative perspective (Zhao, 2010). Proponents of this perspective assume generally that a nation's competitive edge in the global economy resides in its capacity to develop innovative products that can appeal to a wide range of consumers; find effective ways to locate, distribute, and use resources; and offer relevant efficient services for such production and marketing worldwide (Spring, 1998). To compete in a global arena, a nation needs its workforce to develop new ideas and solve problems successfully, collaborate and communicate with other people effectively, and adapt and function flexibly in different contexts and environments (Stromquist, 2002). Central to this mission is the need to develop certain types of specialized knowledge, skills, and values within its workforce. These include science, mathematics, and technological literacy; multilingual oral, reading, and communication competence; and willingness and ability to understand different cultures and use such understandings to work with different individuals (Longview Foundation, 2008).

From this perspective, one of the primary responsibilities of teachers is to equip a nation's future workforce with these qualities. However, teachers are seen frequently as ill prepared to meet this responsibility (Tatto, 2007). As a consequence, ambitious curriculum and teaching standards, accountability and assessment systems, and professional development programs are being established and implemented to transform teaching practices to accommodate to standardization in production and business processes (Merryfield, 1997; Yatto, 2006). …

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