Wednesday, April 20, 2011

STEC Annual Conference: Teaching As A Moral Practice

Just arrived at the Stirling Management Centre for a day conference. It is the annual Scottish Teacher Education Committee conference and the Title of the conference is Towards A New Professionalism.

The keynote is from Professor Tara Fenwick, University of Stirling
“Teaching as Moral Practice: Towards Bold, Rude and Risky Professionalism”. Abstract available here.

Bold: The courage to do what's right
Rude: To interrupt and challenge
Risky: To take chances, to allow improvement

The question is not how to train the individual professional, it is how to create a system that is supports the profession to be bold, rude and risky. Loads of challenges. For example blurring of boundaries - who is responsible for educating our children? Inequality - the gaps are widening. Migration - people are much more mobile.

In Scotland, in 2009-10 only 16.1% (not sure about the figure after the point) but where do the rest go? Many are still working in education but not in schools.

What knowledge is important? What are the top ten hits on Google? What are the top ten hits for teacher education?

Where is education in all this complexity and world change? Very Knowledge is contained in textbooks and can be weighed and measured. "The maps they gave us are outdated by years" {from a poem but didn't catch the poet and may have misquoted}.

What images do our bright young teachers have as their role.

Teacher as:
Hero rescuer
Healing nurturer

The problem is the views are static and restricted. We should not ask how we define and constrain professionalism but how professionalism is being used. We have seen a move from definitions of knowledge generated in then profession to standards imposed and audited by external bodies. A move from trust to distrust. Are teachers in a state of learned helplessness.

Should we instead see teachers in a web of collective solidarity. Do we really want to see teacher education as a way to recreate what we have already decided is a professional teacher?

Teaching as engaging with difference, inventing with new registers of practice (teaching as a means of uncovering what is there rather than simply covering the syllabus). Teaching is acting in spaces of undecidability - juggling multiplicity. Important not just to have teachers that are bold, rude and risky but a profession that is bold, rude and risky!

Move from a system that moves from telling teachers what to do and what to be but instead move to creating teachers that are willing and able to take a leap into the unknown.