Dr Paula Stone discusses the importance of critical reflective teaching in teacher education within Higher Education.
I have been a teacher educator for 13 years and during that time I have witnessed the steady but certain erosion of the involvement of universities in initial teacher education. The reforms have had an immediate impact on how student teachers are prepared to be teachers, with an emphasis on professional practice rather than on critically reflective teaching. Within the hegemonic ideology of the education system it is becoming increasingly difficult for ‘young’ teachers to think critically.
As a white woman born into socio-economic deprivation, my early experiences have shaped who I am as a teacher educator. Being ’acted upon’ by social structures and preconceptions of who I was, particularly as a young adult, has made me more conscious of how material constraints and hegemonic practices can have an impact on not only how others see you, but on how you see yourself.
This has shaped who I am as a teacher educator and the imperatives of my teaching. Learning from bell hooks I engage in a critical pedagogy, one that encourages my students to develop a critical understanding of teaching and learning in England in 21st century. My classroom is a space to interrogate policy and practice and to champion what Aronowitz and Giroux call ‘the discourse of possibility’. My pedagogy encourages my students to open their minds and explore the forces acting upon them as they enter the profession, including their own assumptions about teaching and learning, and their own students. Like hooks, I seek to share in the ‘intellectual and spiritual growth’ of my student teachers, hopefully giving them the courage transgress the boundaries that would confine them to a technician or a craftworker.
Within my practice I try to model critically reflection, building trust with my students. My hope is that the students will leave me as critically reflective teachers whose practice is infused with excitement and purpose and who recognise the larger social importance of their work.
I am a woman teaching for change.
Dr Paula Stone is Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Education