Academic journal article McGill Journal of Education (Online)

Editorial: What Is Learning in a Professional Teacher Education Program?

Academic journal article McGill Journal of Education (Online)

Editorial: What Is Learning in a Professional Teacher Education Program?

Article excerpt

This special issue of the McGill Journal of Education features research articles, Notes from the Field, and book reviews intended to address several difficult questions that probe the nature of current and future teacher education:

* What can and should teacher education programs look like in order to prepare new professionals with meaningful experiences, ideas, and ways of learning?

* How can programs create the conditions for new and practicing teachers to be: (1) critical of existing processes and systems; (2) creative in ways they shape their pedagogy and utilize resources; (3) mindful of diverse ways in which learners learn; (4) innovative as they gain more understanding of today's learners; and (5) more capable of guiding students and enabling them all to experience success for their current and future lives - in short, to transform the educational system in which they will be working?

* What is the role of teacher educators in shaping professional programs differently as they learn to respond to the rapidly changing environments in which teachers and students are working and the new ways in which they are learning?

In response to these questions, the wide range of scholarly perspectives in this special issue has contributed to a rich representation of teaching and learning. As we pointed out in our original call, teacher education is undergoing a transformation in response to diverse demands expected of current and future teachers; however, this special issue explores much more than programmatic perspectives of teacher education. Instead, the authors have delved into learning in teacher education. We know that cognitive skills remain the simplest to teach and test; they are also the easiest to automate and outsource, making traditional approaches to learning less and less viable in preparing the next generation of learners. Education can no longer focus on the reproduction of content knowledge; instead education in the network information age must evolve to make engagement in learning central, acknowledge and incorporate social and emotional learning, and promote connectedness between subjects and communities (Ontario Ministry of Education, 2014; Sanford, Hopper, & Starr, 2015).

Emerging from the backdrop of 21st century learning - which challenges fragmented, individualistic, didactic, competitive, "fixed" mindsets and instead offers holistic, interconnected, collaborative, inquiry-based "growth" mindsets - this MJE special issue presents research, discussion, and commentary that is illustrative of more robust and effective ways to support the learning and growth of new teachers in preparing the next generations of learners with different needs, interests, and talents. Our impetus in this comes from the recognition that we seldom stop to consider what learning really means in relation to teacher education, or where learning happens, as we work to prepare well-rounded professionals for a future that we cannot yet fully envision. If teacher education programs are to respond to the complex and diverse needs of the profession, of those newly entering the profession and the children / youth who currently live hopefully within our educational institutions, we need to understand the conditions that best enable learning to become and evolve as a teacher, as well as consider whose voices need to be heard as we reimagine our programs.

In the nine articles included in this special issue of MJE, authors situated from across Canada present research from a multitude of important perspectives on the nature of learning in teacher education. Starting on the west coast, Egan, Bullock and Chodakowski, from Simon Fraser University, discuss how teaching imaginatively could change the landscape of learning in teacher education. In response to the fragmentation of theoretical and practical knowledge in teacher education, Hopper, Sanford, and Fu, from the University of Victoria, discuss how electronic portfolios provide a common thread for students to explore their professional learning. …

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