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Theory and Practice in Teacher Education

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Muhammad Ilyas Khan
Lecturer in Education, Hazara University, Pakistan.
PhD student, University of Leicester, UK
Paper presented at TEAN conference, 18 May 2012 at
Aston, Birmingham
How did it begin?
Education as
a process
from what
The teacher as a the centre of
тАШeducationalтАЩ process
Teacher Education
The тАШthinkingтАЩ teacher
From тАШthinkingтАЩ to
Who is a тАШthinkingтАЩ teacher?
What is reflection?
How is reflection
incorporated in the PGCE and
what is the impact of theorypractice interaction on the
development of effective
reflective teachers?
яВЧ What kind of initial teacher education (ITE) prepares effective,
reflective teachers?
theoretical grounding to student teachers
or one that prepares them on a more practical basis? Or is it the
яВЧ An ITE that provides more
one that caters to both theory and practice in equal proportion?
яВЧ What kind and form of theory helps in the effective preparation of
student teachers for their profession? What is the respective role of
the university and the school in effective ITE programmes?
яВЧ Is the current structure of the PGCE in terms theory-practice and
school-university suitable for preparing effective reflective teachers
or does it need to be restructured? What are the factors that
influence the theory-practice and university-school aspects of the
тАв Intricacy
practice interaction
Theory(Teaching as a
Practice (Teaching as an
тАв Three competing but not
exclusive positions:
rationality/Topdown model
tical reflection
theorizing/Bottomup model
тАв1.Technical/practical focus
тАв2. Critical focus
Teacher as
Teacher as
Teacher as
approach (McIntyre, 1993;
1999; Birmingham, 2004)
яВЧ A representative quote: тАШтАжeducational theory is nothing
other than the name we give to the various futile
attempts that have been made over the last hundred
years to stand outside our educational practices in order
to explain and justify them. And what I am going to
propose on the basis of this argument is that the time
has now come to admit that we cannot occupy a position
outside practice and that we should now bring the whole
educational theory enterprise to a dignified endтАЩ. Carr
яВЧ Previously OтАЩHear (1988) and Lawlor (1990)
яВЧ Teaching as тАШpractical competenceтАЩ and as тАШcraftтАЩ
яВЧ The idea of тАШteaching schoolsтАЩ where new entrants
are provided training on job and where тАШtrainee
teachers can observe and learn from great
teachersтАЩ. Michael Gove, Secretary of State for
яВЧ School White Paper (2010), тАШThe importance of
TeachingтАЩ, supports the idea of School-based ITT and
the Teach First concept
яВЧ Although the structure of the PGCE under this study was two-
third school-based, the White Paper seems to propose taking
the ITE (or rather ITT) further down the school road in a bid to
тАШReform initial teacher training, to increase the proportion of
time trainees spend in the classroom, focusing on core
teaching skills, especially in teaching reading and
mathematics and in managing behaviourтАЩ (DfE, 2010: 9).
яВЧ White Paper and the policy of the incumbent government seem
to be based more on some ideological position (or rather a
superficial form of it) and less on any credible research
regarding the role of theory and practice and hence of the
school and the university in the preparation of beginning
яВЧ The тАШwhatтАЩ or subject-matter coming in the form of a
centralised curriculum
яВЧ The тАШhowтАЩ or teaching тАШcraftтАЩ with a focus on тАШskillsтАЩ
яВЧ Possible neglect of the тАШwhyтАЩ of education/teaching
яВЧ A teacher is not just a subject expert such as a biologist
or a chemist or a mathematician. In addition тАШThe
teacher needs to understand the subject in its relation to
other subjects and a part of the overall education of
studentsтАЩ (Pearson, 1989: 147)
яВЧ Theory and practice go together
яВЧ University and school cannot be exclusively associated
with either theory and practice
яВЧ The balance of theory and practice and university-school
is adequate
яВЧ Shifting the ITE completely to school will lead to de-
intellectualisation and de-professionalisation of the
teaching profession and the university, therefore, has a
vital role in the ITE
тАШI think the two go hand in hand and naturally you
canтАЩt say right now we have done the theory go and
put into practice because I think that all part of the
reflection is using the theory to inform your
practice. So I think it should be a constant practice
of theory feeding into the practice. But you got to
have the practice; you canтАЩt ever become a good
teacher by just theorising. So I think it should be
яВЧ тАШI actually think that to say that you have got theory and
practice as two separate things is a difficult one тАж there
is this notion of cognitive apprenticeship where um if
you take apprenticeship traditionally as being something
practical, you know learning as something like making
furniture, or repairing cars. That apprenticeship was
very practical thing; have to be done in a very practical
work place. The notion of cognitive apprenticeship as
far as I can see is the notion that actually is more about
ways of thinking, ways of approaching things but doing it
in a practical senseтАжтАЩ
яВЧ тАШтАж my issue with taking Higher Education out of initial
teacher education, is that it actually de-intellectualises it
and makes it into an apprenticeship and it gives the
impression that teaching is an easy jobтАжтАЩ
яВЧ тАШI think we have it about right in this course. We have
about two-third of their time in the school. When they are
in schools they are getting the practical practice but they
are also doing some theory. They are not just on
teaching practice because they have Directed Tasks to
do, they have reading to do while they are in schools. So
we donтАЩt let them go completely by just saying off you go
take over your classтАжтАЩ
яВЧ тАШI think how we have got it at the moment is about right
in terms of the balance. But it does make for a much
pressurised year and a very demanding year in terms of
assignment work and practice. But we do stress the
importance of theory, the importance of looking at other
peopleтАЩs researchтАжтАЩ
яВЧ тАШItтАЩs better now. ItтАЩs much more difficult now. We had a
very nice year, you know we felt very much like university
students, and we had a very nice leisurely time then. We
had an intensive attachment to a school but only one
attachment to one school. And now you have to have
experience in two schools which is much betterтАжтАЩ
яВЧ тАШPreviously theory was much more about things such as
history of education, and all such things but less about
more practically useful things such as pedagogy,
psychology and learning theories. So its better now with
more focus on such relevant subjects and student
teachersтАЩ professional needsтАжтАЩ
яВЧ тАШIf you make it too academic I am worried that you lose
teachers who are fantastic teachers but not very
academic or not academic in the way that we see
academic. They might be actually academically very good
but because of the way we look at it and its all written
work and then they might not just be good at written
work and then they lose outтАжтАЩ
Birmingham, C. (2004) Phronesis: A model for pedagogical reflection. Journal of Teacher
Education, 55 (4), 313тАУ324.
DfE. (2010) The Importance Of Teaching. Retrieved July 7, 2011 from
Khan, M.I. (2005c, May 15) Are All Teacher Training Programmes A Complete Waste Of Time?.
DAWN, p.25
Kessels, J. P. A. M., & Korthagen, F. A. J. (1996) The Relationship between Theory and Practice:
Back to the classics. Educational Researcher, 2(5), 17-22.
Korthagen, F., & Kessels, J. (1999) Linking Theory and Practice: Changing the Pedagogy of
Teacher Education. Educational Researcher, 28(4), 4-17.
Lawes, S. (2003) What, when, how and why? Theory and foreign language teaching. The Language
Learning Journal, 28(1), 22-28.
Lawlor, S. (1990) Teachers Mistaught: Training in Theories or Education in Subjects?, London:
Centre for Policy Studies.
McIntyre, D. (1993) Theory, Theorizing and Reflection in Initial Teacher Education. In Calderhead,
J. & Gates, P. (Eds.), Conceptualizing Reflection in Teacher Development (pp.39-52), London:
OтАЩHear, A. (1988) Who Teaches the Teachers?, London: Social Affairs Unit.
Pearson, A.T. (1989) The Teacher: Theory and Practice in Teacher Education, London: Routledge.
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