Experts of the future?
This chapter addresses ‘images of change’ concerned with the practices of universities in relation to the professional development of teachers. There have been profound changes in global politics, academic knowledge and the moral focus of education and commerce in recent decades. Western society in Europe and the USA since the 1970s has experienced decline in economic growth, political empire and legitimated cultural currency. This loss of national confidence in the ‘West’ and the USA elicited a reaction which created space within academia for reflective and critical discourses, such as critical theory, phenomenology, ethnomethodology, Marxism, existentialism and postmodernism. These themes in academic focus are unified through the perspective of social constructivism, deconstructionism and postmodernism. Within the postmodern perspective society is viewed as a text, and accepted scientific and academic texts are themselves viewed as rhetorical acts with no logical or empirical legitimacy. In such a view, fact and fiction become blurred because they are seen as the products and resources for communicative action - they are representations of a constructed reality representing different ideologies, groups and interests.
What are the implications of this change for teacher education in universities? Ultimately the courses constructed in universities to legitimate teachers' professional practice are facing the tensions which arise from ideological and post-empiricist critique. Traditionally, their development has been based upon academic scholarship and intellectual ability, whereas the practical knowledge and experience gained in teachers' careers have been treated as incidental to this focus, and have even at times been dismissed as ‘subjective’ or anecdotal when used as evidence in written assignments and dissertations.
The focus of this chapter is on the inevitable changes that are occurring in