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close this bookThe MUSTER Synthesis Report - Researching Teacher Education: New Perspectives on Practice, Performance and Policy (CIE, 2003, 237 p.)
View the document8.0 Summary and Overview
View the document8.1 Introduction
View the document8.2 Data Sources
View the document8.3 Characteristics of College Staff
View the document8.4 Tutors' Views and Perspectives
View the document8.5 Concluding Discussion

8.1 Introduction

Teacher educators all over the world are an underdeveloped group. In few countries are there specific career paths or professional courses for them. From an academic point of view, little research has been carried out in this field and the available literature, even in the West, is very sparse. One exception comes from a group of (mainly) North American university teacher educators, working in the 'reflective practitioner' mode, who used self-study and action research approaches to theorise about their own professional learning and how to improve their practice (Russell and Korthagen 1995).

Reports from high income countries suggest that most cadres of teacher educators tend towards a conservative ideology rather than a radical or transformative one. This is perhaps to be expected when they have themselves usually come up through the same system. Yet it seems obvious that if educational change is to take place, those who prepare the next generation of teachers must play a key role in innovation. Writing about educational development in general, Beeby pointed out the self-perpetuating nature of educational systems and the problem of where to break the cycle:

Teacher trainers in low income countries who do try to break with the old pattern usually get their ideas from travel in rich countries, or from books written there, and often hand them on, in the form of indigestible theory, to teachers who need practical guidance to take even simpler steps forward. The reformer's most puzzling question frequently is: 'Who is to re-train the teacher trainers?' (Beeby 1980: 465-6)

In many low income countries today this question is still very pertinent, and there are only a few reports of relevant research or action. One describes the concerted efforts made for colleges in Papua New Guinea (Burke 1996, McLaughlin 1996). A useful example comes from Namibia, where teacher education was planned as the spearhead of reform, and all college tutors were invited to take a postgraduate higher diploma in teacher education. The theory and practice of this course were based on the same principles as those underlying the reforms in the rest of the system, so that tutors were better prepared to train future teachers in the new methods (Shilambo and Dahlstrom 1999).