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Surviving the maelstrom : teacher educator in the 21st century
conference contributionposted on 2008-01-01, 00:00 authored by C Harris
A plethora of reports, research papers and commentaries have focused on teacher education in Australia, its quality, status and ability to adequately prepare teachers for the 21st century. There is however, little research on the worklives of teacher educators, in particular Australian teacher educators. That which does exist tends to focus on new teacher educators (how to best prepare and induct them) and experienced and senior teacher educators (personal reflections and narratives) (see for example, Acker, 1997; Cochran-Smith, 2002; Murray & Male, 2005). What is missing from this research field is an exploration of the contemporary contexts that shape the worklives of Australian teacher educators, and in particular how these contexts influence the work of teacher educators in between these two demographic groups. How post-induction early-mid career teacher educators (re)negotiate their professional identities in view of the changing role of ‘the teacher educator’ in the 21st century is therefore, an under-researched area of study. This paper provides a brief overview of the existent research on teacher educators and highlights areas in need of further examination. Two particular contexts shaping the work of Australian teacher educators are examined: the standards movement, and marketisation and the rise of new mangerialism as are the ramifications of these on the teacher education landscape. How these have impacted on how teacher educators perceive themselves and are perceived by others is subsequently explored as are the implications of these changing contexts on the work of teacher educators in the 21st century. To discuss these issues I draw on my experiences in teacher education and highlight the challenges and opportunities available for teacher educators as we try to ‘survive the maelstrom’. This paper is significant given the federal government’s commitment to social inclusion and an ‘Education Revolution” (ACDE, 2008). Education academics are critical to advancing the [Government’s] complex agendas around innovation, productivity and inclusion (ACDE, 2008, p1). In the next 15 years, over half of the currently working teacher education academics will retire. There is therefore a need to not only attract new and talented people into the teacher education workforce, but to retain those early-mid career academics who have entered teacher education, and are like me, finding it hard to “survive the maelstrom”.