Daily Archives: March 20, 2016

Parsing the Practice of Teaching


I (Clare) and Clive both read the most amazing article on teacher education by Mary puzzle_pieces300x199Kennedy. For those who have followed this blog you will know that we are big fans of her work. You will also know that we believe in thinking about teacher education holistically. Trying to break it down in discreet bits misses the core issue- What are the goals of education? I would highly recommend this article to all teacher educators. Below is the Abstract and here is the link to the article. Well worth the read.Mary Kennedy_2016


Teacher education programs typically teach novices about one part of teaching at a time. We might offer courses on different topics—cultural foundations, learning theory, or classroom management—or we may parse teaching practice itself into a set

of discrete techniques, such as core teaching practices, that can be taught individually. Missing from our courses is attention to the ultimate purpose of these discrete parts—how specific concepts can help teachers achieve their goals, or how specific procedures can help them achieve their goals. Because we are now shifting from a focus on bodies of knowledge to a focus on depictions of practice, this article examines our efforts to parse teaching practice into lists of discrete procedures. It argues that we need to pay less attention to the visible behaviors of teaching and more attention to the purposes that are served by those behaviors. As a way to begin a conversation about parsing teachers’ purposes, I offer a proposal for conceptualizing teaching as a practice that entails five persistent problems, each of which presents a difficult challenge to teachers, and all of which compete for teachers’ attention. Viewed in this way, the role of teacher education is not to offer solutions to these problems, but instead to help novices learn to analyze these problems and to evaluate alternative courses of action for how well they address these problems.