Monthly Archives: October 2017

News of my new book.

I am so thrilled to tell you about the pre-notice of my book, based upon my PhD:

Teacher Education in Lifelong Learning: Developing Professionalism as a Democratic Endeavour

In it I promote the idea that professionalism among teachers should be marked by democratic relations, rather than by managerialism and performance management. The book investigates issues around the participation of trainee teachers in the Lifelong Learning Sector, by reflecting on their experiences and questioning how well initial teacher education prepares teachers as professional practitioners in the sector. The reflexive nature of the book promotes a deep discussion of the nature of professionalism, drawing upon the works of John Dewey, Michel Foucault and Pierre Bourdieu, and places initial teacher education in the Lifelong Learning Sector firmly within the policy and ideological context of regulation, audit and control. It also illuminates pertinent discussions around teacher agency through a consideration of confidence, excellence, and routinised practices. Finally, the book takes us ‘through the looking glass’ to reveal the tensions within the teacher education curriculum as it prepares trainee teachers for a ready-made world, whilst at the same time attempting to encourage principles of social justice, inclusive practice and education as a democratic endeavour. It will be compelling reading for students and researchers working in Education and Sociology, particularly those with an interest in lifelong learning and teacher training.

I began thinking about writing this book while writing my PhD thesis. I wanted to break out from the constraints of doctoral writing all along, but thanks to the careful counsel of my supervisors, Dr Helen Jones and Professor Kevin Orr, I found one voice in my thesis writing – that of the scholar, and now, here I am searching for another voice – that of the writer.

Throughout this book I want to have a conversation with you about professionalism. This involves taking you on a journey into the world that I have inhabited for most of my career – being a teacher in further and higher education. For many years this entailed teaching a range of courses from pre-entry level –programmes of study intended to foster independence for young people with learning difficulties and disabilities, to post graduate level. I want to share with you my ideal of a democratic relationship between learning to be a teacher and becoming a teacher. I want to provide a space here for another voice to counter the spurious yet dominant notions of managerialism, performance management and similarly doubtful neo-liberal discourse that pervades the lifelong learning sector. If you are reading this book you probably already have a good understanding of the range of education and training that differentiates lifelong learning from schools. However, to be clear this sector comprises any form of formally (usually publicly) funded education and training activity that is outside compulsory education.

I hope that you will find in this book a patchwork of philosophy, reflexivity and biography in an attempt to place them in a ‘meaningful frame’ (Geertz 1973: 323). By a meaningful frame I mean encounters that are embedded in the context of being a teacher educator in the lifelong learning sector. Alongside this narrative a running theme is my journey as a practitioner researcher. I chart my own personal and professional journey into teacher education, together with the historical, economic and regulatory context prevailing during that journey. I provide a foretaste of the dissonances in the book, where the way that I developed my professional knowledge and practice was very different to that of my trainee teachers.

Finally I felt a moral imperative to write this book because of my gradual realisation of the impact of the initial teacher education curriculum on the developing teacher. My complicity in the inculcation of the products and processes of performativity led me to question the purpose of competency based curricula as it appeared to me to squeeze out broad, value based notions of teacher professionalism. The sets of assumptions that I held about what constitutes an educationally desirable ITE in the LLS experience for my trainee teachers became disrupted by my increasing propositional knowledge about teaching, education, participation, work based learning and educational theory.

I make uncomfortable points about teacher development, one of which is that teachers perform funnelled and routinised practices. This is because initial teacher education curricula have become increasingly funnelled and routinised, and that workplace learning is restrictive and bounded by spurious notions of competency-based practices and workplace regulation (Fuller and Unwin 2012). The time and space necessary for transformative learning are missing at worst, and at best operate despite the system architectures. I suggest moreover that the heavily regulated nature of the LLS appears to problematise the student, and increasingly limits trainee teachers (Ellis 2010), resulting in the adoption of these routinised or safe practices. I propose, among other things that doubt and uncertainty, time and space are part and parcel of the development of ‘professionals who it could be argued have a wider, critical understanding of the context in which they are working’ (Bathmaker 1999: 190).

Finally I acknowledge that much has been written, particularly recently, about the pervasive and pernicious impact of competency based curricula, neo-liberalism, and marketisation in the lifelong learning sector (for example Daley et al (2015; 2017). The originality of this book forms out of a similar purpose – to challenge the prevailing discourse, but this book offers a fresh perspective, that of one teacher educator seeking to develop and sustain the principles of education as a democratic endeavour.

The book should be out in March 2018, and if you are interested in hearing more about my journey please let me know.