2012 Conference Paper Abstracts

Reclaiming Teacher Education

Alan Scott (keynote address)

To talk of reclaiming teacher education is to acknowledge that the history of teacher education over the last fifty years has been the story of claim and counterclaim. The domain of teacher education is a contested terrain where it seems everyone has wanted a piece of the action, from the old New Right (neo liberals) to neo conservatives, from the teaching profession itself, from the pedagogues of the old teacher’s colleges to the researchers of the universities, from concerned citizens to the proselytizers of new teaching or new training methods. Political, economic, social and educational pressure groups have targeted teacher education as a mechanism for achieving their numerous and disparate aims.

This address will look briefly at these claims in order to raise the issue of who has a legitimate claim on teacher education and what does it mean to say we need to reclaim it. At the heart of the debate is the question of who owns education itself, whose ends does it serve and to what purpose is it put.

With the demise of the social accord in the 1980’s, and the continuing saga of severe and periodic recessions, the New Zealand dream of an egalitarian society, with a meritocratic education system as the driver of social mobility, seems ever more problematic or illusory.

At the same time, the questions of what is good practice, in both schools and colleges of education, and what is an appropriate teacher education curriculum, and how do we assess it and who is to validate it are keenly and vigorously debated.

Within these interlinking professional and social contexts of teacher education, what are we to reclaim?


Is teacher education a profession?

John O’Neill

Over 200 years, the dominant metaphor for the preparation of beginning teachers by teacher educators has evolved from ‘correction’ to ‘apprenticeship’, ‘training’, ‘finishing’, ‘education’ and, most recently, ‘standardisation’. Teacher educators’ primary affiliation has similarly varied over time from church, to classroom, normal school, training college and, latterly, the university.

Scholarly analyses of teacher educators as an occupational group typically describe a continual struggle for individual and collective credibility in: (a) university and faculty; and (b) school/centre or classroom settings. Teacher education does not satisfy the classical requirements for a profession and has been referred to by others, dismissively, in such terms as ‘the uncertain profession’ and by teacher educators themselves, approvingly, as a ‘semiprofession’. Many individual teacher educators now meet neither contemporary benchmark expectations of research entrepreneurship and productivity among their university colleagues, nor currency of occupational expertness among those with whom they and their students interact in schools and centres. Requirements for some teacher educators to be registered teachers, but not to have a current practising certificate, further reinforce their fractured occupational positioning.

This is a debilitating, untenable position for teacher educators. In New Zealand, the position has developed in an ad hoc fashion over the last twenty or so years and has resulted in teacher educators being expected to be all things to all constituencies in both scholarly and occupational spheres. Drawing on classical Greek philosophical distinctions between abstract or scientific knowledge, practical or craft knowledge, and the wisdom borne of thoughtful practice, this paper considers alternative ways in which teacher educators’ relationships with and contributions to initial teacher education policy discourse might realistically be reconstituted over the next decade in order to provide them with a meaningful, distinctive, manageable and satisfying professional role.


A critique of teacher education policy in New Zealand 1970-2012

Noeline Alcorn

How can NZ schools be provided with a sufficient supply of knowledgeable and skilled teachers at a reasonable cost?  This question has shaped teacher education policy over decades but its interpretation and preferred solutions have varied markedly.

By 1970 three year training for primary teachers was finally achieved and teachers colleges were striving to change their organisational patterns, move away from their image as extended secondary schools and become fully tertiary institutions.  Colleges had also acquired their own councils though important decisions in finance, numbers, curriculum and staffing were all made finally by the Department of Education.  In 2012 most teacher education in New Zealand is carried out in university faculties of Education offering early childhood, primary and secondary programmes and heavily involved in continuing professional education.

These significant developments have occurred against a backdrop of social and systemic change in NZ.  In this paper I examine what issues have shaped educational policy in teacher education, what conflicting ideas have underpinned it, and which players have been pivotal.

Key themes include: (i) the scope, nature and preferred locus of teacher education; (ii) control, funding and quality assurance; and (iii) supply and demand for teachers.

The paper will examine policy documents, reports, critique, and systemic developments with a focus on the changing and often contradictory nature of concepts such as professionalism, accountability, student success, and teacher quality.


How do we strengthen the links between initial teacher education, teacher registration and early career learning?

Lexie Grudnoff & Mary Simpson

The links between initial teacher education, teacher registration and early career learning are problematic. The curriculum and control of initial teacher education is contested and the interplay between the key parties (students, teachers, providers and regulatory institutions) is shifting. This paper explores the present context and identifies points of tension and connection that exist between the key stakeholders. The authors suggest that new working relationships are needed and identify ways that the key parties might establish better links.


Policy driven reforms and the role of teacher educators in reframing teacher education in the 21st century

Diane Mayer (keynote address)

In this talk I consider the role of teacher educators in reframing initial teacher education in the 21st century.  I aim to foreground the importance of formal university based teacher education and highlight the important work that needs to be done by teacher educators through their research, scholarship and practice to inform and influence relevant policies and practices to ensure a professionalised teacher education system into the future.

Like many countries, the current policy moment for teacher education in Australia is calling into question the value of teacher education as it is currently practiced, proposing alternative pathways into teaching while at the same time tightening outcomes with statements of professional standards for teachers and highlighting input measures in teacher education regulation. Many features of this current policy moment have the potential to deprofessionalise the teaching profession and teacher education. As teacher educators, we must shape the current and future agendas in order to sustain the professionalization of teacher education and frame the teacher education system in the 21st century. In order to do that I argue that we need to address some key questions being asked of us: What is the value of teacher education?  What should beginning teachers know and be able to do? How can judgments be made about what beginning teachers know and are able to do?

I argue that we must continually argue for a self-regulated profession and a model of ‘professional accountability’ to frame the work we do, ensuring research informed and validated professional standards for teaching at various junctures in a teaching career that capture the complexity and context specific dimensions of quality teaching and professional judgement. I also argue we must carefully consider how we provide evidence of the quality of the teachers we prepare. Authentic assessment of beginning teaching that involves consideration of teacher professional judgment and student learning, along with the implications for teacher education curriculum, are crucial issues to address in re/framing the teacher education system of the 21st century. In conclusion, I argue teacher education research must respond to and inform the questions being asked of us in this policy moment.


What are the characteristics of exemplary initial teacher education programmes in countries similar to Aotearoa New Zealand

Peter Lind

Recent political and educational debate in New Zealand has closely linked the quality of teaching with the educational achievement of learners.  This has been supported by evidence from both national and international research. It is no surprise, therefore, that attention has been focused on how we prepare teachers for the profession in Aotearoa New Zealand.

The Education Workforce Advisory Group recommended in its Final Report to the Minister of Education (April 2010) that moving ITE to a post-graduate qualification would improve the provision of ITE by reducing the variability in quality of ITE programmes and helping to raise the status of the teaching profession.  There is very little evidence provided in this report to support this claim.  Therefore, one of the intentions of this paper is to examine how this vision aligns to the characteristics of exemplary ITE programmes offered internationally?

To achieve this we will ask the following questions:

  • What are the characteristics of exemplary ITE programmes?
  • How effectively do these programmes prepare teachers to improve the educational outcomes for all learners?
  • What are the implications for New Zealand ITE programmes?


What should initial teacher education programmes for 2022 look like and why?

Jane Gilbert 

Over the last fifteen years or so we have seen a paradigm shift in international thinking about education. Driven by an awareness of the massive social, economic, and technological changes taking place in the world outside education, the response has been to question the role and purpose of traditional forms of schooling. Today’s learners need knowledge and skills that our schools were not set up to provide. However, and more importantly, to thrive in today’s world, they need an orientation to knowledge, thinking, and learning that differs from what was valued in 20th century schools.

While there is now a large research and policy literature looking at how we might go about building this new orientation to knowledge in students, work exploring the cognitive demands this makes on teachers is only just beginning.

If teachers are to design ‘21st century’ learning programmes for their students, they need a 21st century orientation to knowledge. Achieving this in teachers involves more than simply adding new knowledge and skills to their existing repertoires: it requires them to change how they think, know, and learn. This has obvious implications for the design of teacher professional learning programmes, including – and especially – initial teacher education.

This paper explores what ITE should look like in 2022 – if we want to continue to have a public education system, and if we want our education system to lead – rather than follow – New Zealand’s future development.


What evidence-base do we need to build a stronger theory-practice nexus?

Lisa Smith

This paper will begin by reviewing the historic and current needs and problems associated with connecting theory and practice, and then move to a brief discussion of current research on quality teaching, and factors that affect learning. An argument will be put forward on how we can learn from other disciplines. Next, the case will be made for how we can use moderation to determine what our standards are for research. The presentation will conclude with a call for developing better vehicles for communication, a description of some innovative approaches to this issue using ICT, and some ideas on where to next.


Who should develop initial teacher education policy?

Sandie Aikin & Judie Alison

Contextual factors such as the competitive educational market and self-managing schools are significant influences on Initial Teacher Education providers, the programmes they offer, and the employment and induction of beginning teachers.

In this paper NZEI and PPTA account for their belief that initial teacher education policy development should be a collaborative effort.  It is argued that collaboration between the different players in initial teacher education strengthens policymaking.  These players, we will suggest, are professional teacher educators, the Teachers Council, other approval bodies, the Ministry of Education, and the teacher unions.

Teacher unions are guardians of the profession as a whole, protecting both its status and the conditions under which teachers work.   They are grounded in the reality of schools, and can share this knowledge with teacher educators

Teacher unions, as “unions of professionals”, have a part to play in developing Initial teacher education policy.  Historically, teaching unions have held themselves accountable for high quality public education, and exercise a high degree of responsibility in the way the objectives of their organisations are fulfilled by teachers, realising their values and understandings through principles of unity, social integrity and social justice.

First, we explain briefly our vision of Initial Teacher Education and how we try to honour this in our practice. Second we explain our historical and legal roles and how these are played out in practice.  Thirdly, we discuss what we see to be the contributions of the other significant players in the policy collaboration.


What are the implications of demographic change for initial teacher education in Aotearoa/New Zealand?

Dr Airini, The University of Auckland 

New Zealand has created an education system admired internationally for its excellence. Diverse learners are making progress, but there’s room for improvement. Our system is high in quality but low in equity. We are yet to realise the potential of the “critical role teachers play in enabling the educational achievement of all learners” (New Zealand Graduating Teacher Standards). The turnaround will come from an unrelenting focus on sharing that excellence across the education system to achieve unprecedented levels of achievement by all learners. Initial teacher education is at the core of that turnaround. To-date the potential of initial teacher education to improve New Zealand education outcomes in a time of demographic change has had limited consideration. How can ITE best prepare teachers for success for all learners? What is the contribution ITE to the government’s goal of 85% of all students achieving NCEA level 2 by 2016? How can ITE be enabled to contribute to greater levels of education achievement by all students? This paper will explore the implications of demographic change for initial teacher education in Aotearoa New Zealand. Models for a responsive ITE sector will be described, along with a range of actions possible at policy, tertiary sector investment, organisational and student-teacher educator engagement levels. What such changes might look like in practice will be explored in relation to the priority population of Pasifika learners.  Every learner in New Zealand should have the opportunity to succeed in our education system. This paper is about helping make that happen through a focus on the potential of initial teacher education to make a difference to the success of all learners across Aotearoa New Zealand