Conceptions of teaching
In an article which looks at this division and the conceptions of teaching which underpin this issue, Freeman and Richards (1993) come up with a further distinction. They base their tripartite classification on Zahorik (1986 in Freeman and Richards 1993).
The first category, science-research is, for our purposes, within the theory part of the issue as it is derived from scholarly research. These conceptions promote teaching which operationalise learning principles, such as research in psychology later applied in task-based learning. The second category, theory-philosophy, arrives at conclusions through reasoning rather than empirical investigation. Last, art-craft limits the transferability or generalisation of methodology as they might only be applied by a particular teacher to a particular class only.
In my view, teaching could be conceived as a field deeply rooted in science-research and theory-philosophy which maintains a dialogue with the art-craft conception since the former sheds some light upon the latter, which, in turn, will provide new experiences to investigate. This conception of teaching, any conception in fact, will inevitably shape the type education prospective teachers will receive and what is expected from them as teachers.
The developmental position
In a study carried out by investigating the construction of knowledge of teaching by pre-service students at an elementary teacher education programme, Kroll (2004) positions herself within the developmental view. She concludes by saying that to become effective teachers, student-teachers need to have an understanding of theories of teaching and learning. However, this understanding needs to be carried out in such a way that student-teachers progressively connect these theories with their own towards a constructivist view of knowledge. What is emphasised by Kroll (ibid: 217) is that in order to fight back this myth of theory as being complicated and inapplicable, trainers should develop a method of teaching which helps trainees integrate scholarly theory with their own thinking towards a critical development of their knowledge as regards teaching.
Another study which seems to lean towards a developmental view, thus placing more emphasis on the theoretical side of the issue is reported by Cheng et al. (2009). Pre-service students, though with some mixed and weak positions, seem to move from naïve beliefs at the beginning of their education to more sophisticated beliefs which constructively integrate discipline-driven theory with their own schema and experience from the practicum. This shift in thinking may support the idea that programmes should adopt a developmental view. Student-teachers might initially stay in a zone marked by theory present in different seminars within the programme, and, as they move along they are able to relate this theoretical or philosophical view of teaching with their own field experience enabling them to create their own theories.
More in my next post...