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What do professional learning policies say about purposes of teacher education?

Kennedy, Aileen (2015) What do professional learning policies say about purposes of teacher education? Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 43 (3). pp. 183-194. ISSN 1359-866X

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Enhancing teacher learning is acknowledged globally as a key route to improving student outcomes, thereby contributing to nation states’ economic competitiveness (OECD, 2005). This globally accepted policy ‘hypernarrative’ (Stronach, 2010) is driving reform of teacher education policy internationally. This paper seeks to analyse some key features of contemporary teacher professional learning policies in terms of the underpinning purposes of education, in an attempt to make more explicit the purposes and potential implications of particular policy choices. The analysis draws on literature related to the fundamental purposes of school education, highlighting three broad, but distinct categories of ‘purpose’: the socialisation function; the development of human capital; and ‘subjectification’ which focuses on individual creativity (Biesta, 2009). While principally conceptual in nature, the paper draws on the Scottish policy context in exemplifying the analysis, concluding that there is a tendency towards socialisation and human capital functions, at the expense of subjectification purposes.