Who asks the educational questions in Teacher Education?

This post follows on from the previous post entitled The Craft of Teacher Education that could have alternately being named as Who does the work of teacher education? It is a provocation that draws heavily upon Gert Biesta’s excellent 2015 paper, On the two cultures of educational research, and how we might move ahead: Reconsidering the ontology, axiology and praxeology of education. Biesta packs many ideas into his papers and I urge you to read the full paper to capture the elegance of his thesis.

Male Regent Bowerbird in Bower
© State of New South Wales and Office of Environment and Heritage 2018

Like the Bowerbird I am, I have picked out one idea with which I can decorate this post of my bower. This idea is encapsulated in the following quote from the paper:

“When we look at education through the lens of what in the English-speaking world are known as the disciplines of education, we can say that the philosophy of education asks philosophical questions about education, the history of education asks historical questions, the psychology of education asks psychological question and the sociology of education asks sociological questions, which then raises the question ‘Who asks the educational questions?’. ” (Biesta, 2015, p.15)

If you read my post from yesterday you may be already making the link between Biesta’s provocation and my own. The part-time army of professional experience supervisors we employ in teacher education may be the expert others who are asking the educational questions to our students. This is going on whilst full-time tenured faculty pursue their own equally important psychological, sociological and philosophical about education. These questions are more likely to receive funding and their answers published in the elite journals that faculty need to get into if they want to get ahead.

This is not a bitter rant from an academic who has been marginalised by the political economy of university-based teacher education. I have worked (survived!) in elite research-intensive universities for over 12 years. I am just very curious about Biesta’s provocation that education should be regarded as a discipline in itself rather than as a context for other disciplines to work in. At the centre of my curiousity is a desire that the expert pedagogues we employ on our margins be given the space to ask the educational questions of which we don’t know the answer. These answers may give practitioners a view of a different praxis in education:

“it is important not to forget that research can also be of tremendous practical relevance if it provides practitioners with different ways of seeing and talking about education” (Biesta, 2015, p.19)

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