Alan Scott and John Freeman-Moir
The aim of this book is to bring together a set of chapters that, individually and collectively, raise the question of teacher education in a critical and thought- provoking way. Those involved in teacher education are acutely aware of how contentious an issue the production of teachers has become. The debate has been held both inside and outside the profession, with academic contributions from those who have spent a lifetime in education or teacher training and political contributions from those for whom teacher education is a very recent issue.
Many of the contributions from politicians and social critics around the world have been hasty and exaggerated, and it is not always clear whether they have a point to make or an axe to grind. What they do, however, is remind us that teacher training is both a social and an educational concern, and that the question of how best to produce teachers is more than just an academic or research exercise.
The first four chapters in the book deal with the political issues involved in teacher education in the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Australia and New Zealand. The contributors were asked to provide a view of teacher education in their own countries that incorporated the political, social and economic influences on the debate over how to train teachers, as opposed to the purely technical/professional issues in the debate.
The remaining eight chapters consider the key issues in teacher education at the end of the twentieth century. In writing their pieces, the authors were asked to bear in mind the following questions. First, what do you take to be the key objectives and outcomes of teacher education? Second, how might a model or a method of teacher education that you envisage meet these objectives? Third, what are the obstacles, difficulties and possibilities in teacher education? In order not to restrict the writers too much, they were invited to write freely and interpret the brief as liberally as they wished.
It is a truism that one of the driving forces behind any society is the necessity for it to reproduce itself across the generations. One generation must hand on to another all the skills, attributes, values, rituals, customs and practices that are perceived as essential for sustaining human life. It is debatable whether this has ever been a simple procedure, even in small tribal settings at the dawn of human evolution, but what is certain is that since the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution this process of handing on 'life' has been complex.
Education, or more precisely formal schooling, whatever the stated objectives of those involved in it, is central to this process of reproduction. Education is about giving the young the skills they will need when they are older. We can, it