Revisiting the European Teacher Education Area: The Transformation of Teacher Education Policies and Practices in Europe

By Symeonidis, Vasileios | CEPS Journal : Center for Educational Policy Studies Journal, July 1, 2018 | Go to article overview

Revisiting the European Teacher Education Area: The Transformation of Teacher Education Policies and Practices in Europe


Symeonidis, Vasileios, CEPS Journal : Center for Educational Policy Studies Journal


Introduction

Since the launch of the Lisbon Strategy in the year 2000, an accelerating process of Europeanisation of national policies related to teachers and teacher education has been witnessed (EDiTE, 2014), so that researchers are increasingly talking about a 'European teacher education policy community' (Hudson & Zgaga, 2008), a 'European Teacher Education Area' (Gassner, Kerger, & Schratz, 2010) and the 'European teacher' (Schratz, 2005, 2014). Although teacher education systems in Europe are firmly rooted in national histories and conditions (Kotthoff & Denk, 2007), influenced by political culture (Louis & Velzen, 2012), long-standing traditions, and resistance to theoretical and research-based arguments (Buchberger, Campos, Kallos, & Stephenson, 2000), there are a number of common trends leading to convergence across countries (see Caena, 2014; Stéger, 2014a; Vidović & Domović, 2013).

The reason behind this development in Europe is identified, on one hand, in accumulated research evidence indicating that students' performance is positively correlated with the quality of teachers (see Barber & Mourshed, 2007; Hattie, 2009; OECD, 2005) and, on the other hand, in processes of harmonisation supported by the European Union (EU) under the objectives of a knowledge society (Domović & Čuk, 2014) and human capital development (Moutsios, 2007). European policies and actions related to teachers and teacher education have received priority in the formulation of the EU's Education and Training (ET) 2010 work programme but became systematic by the middle of the 2000s (Holdsworth, 2010). Various actors operating within the European education policy space, including the EU institutions, professional and policy networks, social partners and other stakeholders, promote policies and contribute to the knowledge base of effective teaching and teacher education (EDiTE, 2014). These actors also contribute to the emergence of transnational modes of governance, redefining the nature of and relationships between spaces, subjects, and coordination of governing education (Dale, 2009).

This paper aims to revisit the European Teacher Education Area (ETEA) by exploring to what extent and how mechanisms, processes, and key agents of Europeanisation, internal or external to the EU, influence the transformation of teacher education policies and practices in Europe. Transformation is understood in the context of Europeanisation, as a dynamic process that involves vertical and horizontal procedures unfolding over time and providing asymmetrical effects through complex mechanisms of interaction (Featherstone & Kazamias, 2001). Depending on the level of 'misfit' between European and domestic processes (Börzel & Risse, 2003, p. 58), those mechanisms of interaction can influence change in teacher education policies and practices reciprocally, meaning at both the level of the EU and of the Member States.

By using the term 'European, this paper refers to policies and initiatives developed within the framework of the EU, as well as to policies and initiatives related to the European continent at large. For example, the Lisbon Strategy was developed within the institutions of the EU, while the Bologna Process was initiated by European countries aiming to create a common European Higher Education Area (EHEA). Moreover, teacher education is examined more broadly, encompassing the whole continuum of teacher learning, namely Initial Teacher Education (ITE), induction, and Continuing Professional Development (CPD).

Method

As part of an ongoing study of Europeanisation in teacher education, this paper presents initial findings of qualitative data collected during October 2016 and February 2017, adopting the format of an empirically based report. The first phase of the study included document review of official EU policy documents, developed since the Lisbon Strategy in the year 2000, as well as websites and online materials of European institutions related to teachers and teacher education. …

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