Collaboratively exploring the history of education for community of practice formation in undergraduate initial teacher education
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At the beating heart of recent developments in initial teacher education (ITE) are efforts to establish a cultural shift within the teaching profession, to a point where professional learning communities may flourish. Successive reports on teacher education have highlighted the importance of establishing communities of practice during both preservice and inservice career stages. However, historically teachers have operated as individuals; as conduits for student engagement with the education system (Darling-Hammond 2006; Conway, Murphy, Rath & Hall 2009; Caena 2014)). Isolated and observed as individuals by students (Lortie 1975), this persona perpetuates such an approach to teaching through what Lortie (1975) describes as the ‘Apprenticeship of Observation’ experienced by prospective teachers as they move through formal compulsory education. Therefore, new entrants to ITE are both emergent members of the teaching profession and recent observants of same. Their embryonic status locates them at the nexus of the student- teacher relationship and consequently as potential agents of change. This juxtaposition is particularly acute at the point of entry to undergraduate ITE (Lortie 2002), accentuated by values established through prior experiences (Ficsher, Rhode & Wulf 2007). It precedes, therefore, that such communities may be established during initial teacher education (ITE). Pre-service teachers (PSTs) retain tacit experiences of the teaching profession which have shaped their perception of what it means to be a teacher (Lortie 1975). The History of Education as a non-elective module in ITE and a requirement for professional registration represents an opportunity to explore such tacit biographical experiences, exploring multiple possibilities and viewpoints (Alheit 2009). However, the current of such foundational studies in ITE, from the perspective of PSTs, has been in decline for the last half century where student teachers have become overwhelmed by concerns regarding subject expertise, classroom management and 21st Century skills as soon as they enter into the practice of teaching. The corollary of this dynamic is that the history of education has become a peripherality in ITE and is struggling to communicate its importance. xvi Reported here is a design-based research (DBR) (Brown 1992; Barab & Squire 2004) study, exploring how a collaborative exploration of the history of education, in a technology enhanced learning environment (TELE), can act as a catalyst for the development of an emergent community of practice in a pre-professional teaching programme. Inspired by social constructivist thinking (Bruner 1996; Lave & Wenger 1991; Vygotsky 1986) this DBR intervention invited participants to collaboratively explore their biographical histories of education and situate those negotiated biographical experiences (Alheit 1994, 2009) in their contemporary, naturalistic context (Barab 2006) with the aim of establishing: how a collaborative engagement the history of education can aid community of practice formation for ITE participants as they move towards professional practice?
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