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Ann Mogush Mason and Bic Ngo
Teacher educators in the United States generally agree that teachers must be prepared to teach for cultural and linguistic diversity. In the first two decades of the 21st century, efforts to do so have occupied much of the literature in critical teacher education and have pervaded the institutional practices at many colleges and universities. However, not all approaches to teacher education for cultural and linguistic diversity demonstrate understanding of the role that white supremacy plays in maintaining structures and institutions that limit possibility in the lives of people of color. Even when teacher educators themselves are critically conscious of this role, institutions are often more powerful than individual consciousness. Specifically, because teacher education is located in institutions that are rooted in white supremacist practices, efforts to shift practices toward teacher education for cultural and linguistic diversity are typically swallowed up by the recuperative power of white supremacy. If teacher education is going to be part of building a more just society, it must orient itself explicitly to understanding the role it plays in maintaining white supremacy and then to mounting new efforts that can stand up to its recuperative power.
Diane Mayer, Wayne Cotton, and Alyson Simpson
The past decade has seen increasing federal intervention in teacher education in Australia, and like many other countries, more attention on teacher education as a policy problem. The current policy context calls for graduates from initial teacher education programs to be classroom ready and for teacher education programs to provide evidence of their effectiveness and their impact on student learning. It is suggested that teacher educators currently lack sufficient evidence and response to criticisms of effectiveness and impact. However, examination of the relevant literature and analysis of the discourses informing current policy demonstrate that it is the issue of how effectiveness is understood and framed, and what constitutes evidence of effectiveness, that needs closer examination by both teacher educators and policymakers before evidence of impact can be usefully claimed—or not.
Mirjamaija Mikkilä-Erdmann, Anu Warinowski, and Tuike Iiskala
Finland has gained increasingly more global interest among educationalists and politicians because of its excellent results on large-scale international student assessments like the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). An interesting question is how a small country in the Global North with only 5 million inhabitants has managed to develop a school system that has gone from undistinguished to top-performing in two decades. The reasons for Finland’s successful and egalitarian school system can be investigated from many perspectives. One view regards teacher education, with the assumption that it has special characteristics that contribute to the success of Finland’s educational system. Factors include systematic selection, a progressive curriculum design that supports teachers’ learning of content knowledge, and the creation of teachers’ didactic skills. In addition, systematic teaching practices in special schools, called training schools, are used to help students integrate theoretical understanding and the practical skills needed for the teaching profession, especially those related to individual student learning in everyday classrooms. Furthermore, the role of empirical research skills in facilitating the development of teacher expertise is essential in Finnish teacher education. Generally, the concept behind Finnish teacher education seems to work very well. However, the system will face challenges in the future, such as how to develop new research-based methods of student selection that are valid and reliable. The educational path—from academic preservice teacher education in a university context to in-service teacher education—is developing and offers the newest research-based knowledge for all teachers, but there is still a lot work to be done in order to link all teachers within official continuous learning systems with universities throughout their careers. Finland’s teaching profession offers a great deal of autonomy and freedom, and the quality of school learning is based on teachers’ evaluations, not standardized tests. Like other countries, Finland is rapidly changing. Hopefully the most important feature of the Finnish educational system, the transparent dialog between the educational research community, the government, teachers, and parents, will carry over into the future. Without dialogue, educators cannot learn about the shared values supporting current and future schools.
Edmund T. Hamann, Juan Sánchez García, and Yara Amparo López López
While teaching and therefore teacher education in Mexico can, in one sense, be traced back to pre-Conquest Aztec military academies, the first significant expansion of Western-style schooling in Mexico occurred in the early 19th century, while the first substantial national efforts at teacher education date to the Porfiriato in the late 19th century. In the 100-plus-year history of teacher education in Mexico, attention has been episodic, has often reflected national refractions of ideas originating elsewhere, and has been centrally intertwined with national governmental efforts to shape what it means to be Mexican. Variously, teacher education has been buffeted by attempts to be Catholic, modern, secular, socialist, neoliberal, and globally competitive economically. In all of this, there has been a tension between centralist (focusing on Mexico City) and nationalist impulses, on the one hand (making teaching patriotic work and the teachers’ union part of the national government), and attention to regional variations, including Mexico’s indigenous populations, rural populations, and economic diversity, on the other. While Mexico’s more than two million teachers may all work in the same country, where one is trained (i.e., which escuela normal, or normal school), where one works (from public schools in affluent and stable neighborhoods to rural telesecundarias where resources are scarce and teachers are not expected to be content area experts), how many shifts one works (it is common for Mexican educators to work at more than one school to compensate for limited salary), which state one works in (funding varies significantly by state), and what in-service professional development one has access to all mean for variations in teacher preparation and teacher praxis.
Teacher education in New Zealand for the school sector began as the British colonists started a formal schooling system in the late 19th century. Teacher preparation for early childhood educators followed in 1988. Beginning with a pupil–teaching apprenticeship model, teacher education for the school sector in New Zealand has shifted from schools to tertiary institutions, and then from stand-alone colleges of education to mostly to faculties and departments in universities following deregulation and the opening of a “market” for teacher education in 1989. Teacher education today also happens in institutes of technology and through private providers. Teacher education is now provided for people who want to teach in early childhood, primary, and secondary settings. Early childhood and primary teachers can undertake a three-year degree or a one-year diploma if they already hold a degree qualification. Secondary school teachers must hold a degree in a subject taught in secondary schools and then complete a one-year diploma in teaching. In 2015 post-graduate teacher education was introduced in the form of one-year Masters degrees. Teacher education in New Zealand has been subject to continual review and reform proposals since its inception. These reviews, coupled with periodic teacher supply crises, make teacher education unstable and problematic. In particular, the shift into universities caused a significant shift in the work of teacher educators. Research imperatives have caused changes in who teacher educators are and what they do, but have also focused attention on scholarship in teacher education.
Roza Valeeva and Aydar Kalimullin
Teacher training in Russia began at the end of the 18th century and has been transformed many times over the past two centuries. The reforms were connected with the development of a comprehensive school system, which became a mass phenomenon in the 19th century. The transformation was most active when the country went through social and economic growth. Up to 2011 Soviet teacher training traditions and principles strongly influenced the Russian teacher education system. It was the period of significant change of shifting from a 5-year program, called “specialist’s degree,” to bachelor’s and master’s degree programs as a response to the Bologna process. At the beginning of 2010 a range of organizational problems and content-related problems of teacher education arose: the reproductive character of teaching in higher education institutions implementing training programs for future teachers; the predominant single-channel model of the system of teacher training not providing students with opportunities to implement transitions between teaching and non-teaching areas of training; and the lack of the system of independent assessment of the quality of future teachers training. These problems prompted the government to start a reform of teacher education in the country from 2014 to 2017.
Teacher education in Russia in the early 21st century is a complex system of continuing teacher training which gives students a chance to enter the teaching profession through a number of different ways. The main structural levels of the system of continuing teacher education in Russia are vocational training educational institutions funded by local governments (teacher training colleges), higher education institutions (specialized teacher training higher education institutions, classical universities, non-governmental [private] universities, non-pedagogical universities), and educational institutions of continuing professional development and professional retraining. The types of educational institutions correlate with the degree levels.
The content of teacher education is based on the Federal State Educational Standards. All teacher training universities that provide teacher education programs follow these Federal State Educational Standards when they develop their educational programs.
Teacher education in Russia determines the quality of professional training in all social spheres. In the early 21st century, graduates from teacher training universities have started working in different professional areas, including social, educational, cultural, and administrative fields.
Jason Loh and Guangwei Hu
Since the turn of this century, and especially in the past decade, Singapore has consistently done well in international benchmark studies, be it the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS), the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), or the International Baccalaureate diploma assessment. Singapore’s sterling performance in these different benchmark assessments has been widely attributed to the quality of its teaching force, which is, in turn, ascribed to the teacher education programs provided by its sole teacher education institution – the National Institute of Education (NIE), Nanyang Technological University (NTU). Teacher education began during the country’s colonial past, but there was no designated provider of comprehensive training until teacher training was institutionalized in 1950, when the Teacher Training College was established. After Singapore gained independence in 1965, the institution’s capacity expanded rapidly as a teacher training department and later as a statutory board within the Ministry of Education. In 1991, to raise the stature of teacher education, the Teacher Training College was incorporated as an autonomous institute within the newly formed NTU. Due to the need to ensure the survival of a tiny island nation over the years, it has been imperative to educate the population for industry and development. In the process, tensions have arisen from: (a) the recruitment of huge numbers of teachers and the concomitant quality of their training, (b) collaboration with the Ministry of Education, and (c) the influence of educational research on theory and practice. In the third decade of the 21st century, with the stranglehold that neoliberalism has on many educational systems around the world, including Singapore, will NIE be able to prepare its future teachers to navigate and survive in such a climate, while continuing to strengthen its theory-practice nexus? With the dwindling of student numbers across all sectors and the accompanying reduced need for new teachers in the country, will NIE look beyond the shores of Singapore, internationalize its programs, and take on a leadership role in the region?
Yin Cheong Cheng
Among the numerous education reforms initiated in the Asia-Pacific Region (the “Region”) at the turn of the 21st century, there were teacher education reforms that aimed to equip teachers with new competence to help discharge their professional duties and expand their roles and responsibilities, and to implement new education initiatives as change agents. In such context, teacher education involves not only teachers’ pre-service training, but also all kinds of in-service or lifelong professional development and learning.
Since the early 2000s, the nine trends of education reform at the macro, meso, site and operational levels have raised various challenges for policy-makers, researchers, and educators who had to re-think the theories, practices, and policies of teacher education reform in their countries and within the Region. Many education systems in the Region have also experienced three waves of education reform that followed different paradigms and had strong implications for teacher education reform. But even though a lot of resources have been invested in these reforms, people in many countries are still disappointed with the quality and performance of their teaching profession and teacher education systems in view of the increasing challenges from globalization, economic transformation, and international competition.
Given the complexities of education reform and the serious concerns about teaching quality, an overview of the key reform issues is needed to draw insights for future development of research, policy analysis, and practice in teacher education reform in the Region and beyond. In particular, the issues related to and implications from the nine trends of education reforms, the paradigm shifts across the three waves, the changes in policy concerns, and the decline in education demands in the Region are analyzed.
Although teacher education has been recognized as a key aspect of educational policy and practice, especially over the past few decades, the research undertaken to inform policy is in many respects inadequate. Drawing on reviews of such research as has been undertaken in Europe, the United States, Australasia as well as other parts of the world, we can identify the key questions for teacher education researchers. These include such topics as the relationship between theory and practice in professional learning, the significance of partnerships between schools and higher education institutions, the relationship between preservice teacher education and ongoing professional learning and the nature of the assessment of beginning teachers.
Three approaches to teacher education research may be defined, and all of them are important in the quest for better understanding of the field. These three approaches are research in teacher education—mainly carried out by teacher education practitioners; research on teacher education—mainly carried out by education policy scholars; and research about teacher education—carried out by scholars in a range of disciplines and seeking to explore the wider social significance of teacher education. An exploration of each of these three approaches reveals that there is a serious dearth of large-scale and/or longitudinal studies that may be seen as genuinely independent and critical. This suggests that there is a large agenda for future teacher education research.
Zoe Martínez-de-la-Hidalga and Lourdes Villardón-Gallego
Many studies and publications have been devoted to the analysis and development of teacher identity from different points of view, using diverse instruments and methodologies and analyzing different dimensions of identity. Despite the scrutiny, it is still a challenge to understand and define an issue as complex as professional identity.
Although there is no clear unanimity on the concept of identity itself, several characteristics have been identified from different approaches. Thus, aspects such as personal unity, stability over time, and across situations and contexts contrast with such features as multiplicity, discontinuity, and a social nature. Faced with this dichotomy, the dialogic perspective explains the complexity of the construct by proposing that the aforementioned features are linked respectively and dialectically. In other words, the various dimensions of identity, along with their variability through time and the influence exerted by social and contextual aspects, are combined with personal unity, with stability over time, and across situations and contexts. This can, occasionally, lead to conflict and contradictions that the individual strives to manage through self-dialogue.
Focusing in the dialogic conceptualization, several implications for research are identified. Firstly, it disallows static categorizations of teachers and places the focus on grasping the self-dialogue that allows teachers to maintain a certain degree of stability and coherence in their identity over time. Secondly, it showcases the effect that dialogue and participation-focused research can have on professional development. Additionally, the study of identity in all its complexity and mutability advocates the integrated study of two levels of analysis: On the one hand, there is the position and actions of teachers in different contexts and situations; and, on the other, there is their professional story, past, present and future, along with the sociocultural factors that have impacted it.
According to this dialogic approach, both the research on the professional identity and the teacher training should incorporate strategies that promote dialogue on actual performance and on professional careers. To this effect, longitudinal designs help capture the dialogue between stability and change. Still, transversal studies can be undeniably useful to identify current conflicts that might arise between personal and professional roles, as well as how such conflicts are managed. Furthermore, qualitative methodologies have a great potential to generate self-dialogues that provide insight into how teachers live, perceive, and manage such conflicts. Finally, research should be participative in nature so that teachers abandon their role as objects of research and become, instead, its subjects, in collaboration with researchers. In this manner, research on identity leads to changes in the professional identity of participants, in addition to furthering the knowledge available on the subject. Action research follows these guidelines, and it is therefore especially suited to this endeavor.
Based on this characterization of the research on professional identity, some techniques are suggested for the collection of information because they foster reflection and consequently also promote development of identity. Some of these techniques are: life stories, narrative of teaching, diaries, case studies, critical events analysis, professional dilemmas, teacher or teaching metaphors, and inquiry-based learning.
The concept of teacher leadership emerged in the United States in the 1980s but increasingly it has featured in the contemporary international discourse about professionalization and modernization. It is best understood against the backdrop of the emergence in the literature of an awareness of the importance of the distinction between educational leadership and school management. A key dimension of that discussion is the concept of transformational leadership, which emphasizes that the goal of leadership is change rather than the maintenance of the status quo. Linked to this is the view that improved outcomes can only be secured when organizational conditions are modified to enable practitioners to develop as individuals and in relation to one another. The idea of distributed leadership is integral to this perspective, which leads to a focus on teachers as potential agents of change. However, interpretations of the concept of teacher leadership are shaped by the realities of hierarchical organizational structures and the way policies related to curriculum and assessment lead to patterns of accountability. Middle managers inevitably focus on management at the expense of leadership. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the most common distinction drawn in the literature on teacher leadership is between formal and informal, a distinction which reflects the emphasis on designated roles of responsibility within organizations rather than the actual practice of leadership. An alternative conceptualization is that of non-positional teacher leadership, which hinges on the teacher’s professionality and the possibility that leadership could be part of any teacher’s construction of their professional identity. There is a body of evidence emerging that indicates the possibility that any education practitioner can be enabled to develop their human agency and moral purpose and so become an effective agent of change.
Daniel Hugo Suárez
Narrative documentation of pedagogical experiences is an alternative and emergent focus of educational research that promotes teacher participation in the processes of research-training-action in the educational field and seeks to make the relationships it configures between power and knowledge more horizontal. Theoretical, methodological, and epistemic-political criteria inform the rules of composition and the validation of constructed pedagogical knowledge, and this methodological framework organizes narrative and autobiographical practices so that educators can reflect on and rename the pedagogical environments they inhabit. Additionally, educators can engage in a series of peer-critique reading-writing exercises that are focused on revising different versions of recounting pedagogical experiences. Moreover, the pedagogical field has a democratizing potential due to the public nature and specialized circulation of these narrative documents.
Michael Chia and Koh Koon Teck
The Second World-Wide Survey of Physical Education in schools, published under the auspices of the International Council of Sport Science and Physical Education, identifies large gaps between the promise of positive outcomes of physical education and actual outcomes. The mismatch between the policy and practice of physical education stems from deep-seated disagreements about what the goals of physical education should be; the multifaceted nature of the subject; and a lack of competence, confidence, and accountability among the teachers who are responsible for teaching physical education in schools, among other things. According to the World Health Organization, the physical and holistic health of young people and adults is threatened by increases in obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers—in part due to increased sedentary modern lifestyles and insufficient exercise. Physical education has the potential to ameliorate the negative impact of sedentary lifestyles and exercise insufficiency. Teacher-education programs for physical education the world over advertise that teachers of the subject help young people acquire a love for physical activity and the skills to practice and enjoy sports; they also teach life skills, including teamwork, sportsmanship, problem-solving, and creativity, and help students develop the habits of a healthy lifestyle. How programs prepare physical-education teachers to deliver on these promises varies considerably. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Singapore has one of the best-performing teacher-education systems in the world. It is run by the National Institute of Education in Singapore. The tight coupling of theory and practice and the tripartite relationship between the policymakers at the Ministry of Education; the National Institute of Education, where teacher training occurs; and the schools, where physical education is experienced, are the key determinants of a quality physical-education experience among children and adolescents in Singapore.
Ismail Hussein Amzat
This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education. Please check back later for the full article.
Trust is the backbone of human beings’ relationships and interconnectedness within themselves. Trust plays a large role in human social interactions, business transactions, and an organization’s succession plan. As long as effective leadership is measured by organizational outcomes, leaders need to work to influence the people in organizations to achieve desired goals. For leaders to be trusted in an organization, they need to have integrity, truthfulness, and transparency. If organization members are to be influenced, persuaded, and motivated to perform at their best, leadership, trust, and relationships need to coexist between organizational leaders and followers.
School settings are also organizational settings, and school principals should also prioritize gaining the trust of their teachers. Due to rapid changes globally and increased complexities within schools, principals must forge relationships with teachers and cultivate a climate of trust with school communities. Leader-Member-Exchange theory (LMX), developed by Fred Dansereau, George Graen, and William J. Haga, emphasizes the importance of trust and mutual respect between leaders and followers. This notion was also supported by the Social Exchange theory. In pursuit of student achievement, school principals seek reciprocal exchanges that can lead to trust among teachers. Because the teacher is ranked as the first factor that influences learning and predicts student achievement, school principals should work closely with teachers by gaining their trust, and build trusting school environments that pave ways for learning enhancements and school development.
Sylvia Chong and Saravanan Gopinathan
Establishing and maintaining teacher quality in Singapore is a process-oriented strategy that requires good policies at the macro level and effective processes at the implementation level. High teacher quality requires rigorous entry requirements, effective evidence-based preparation, and continuous professional development and support at the school level for teacher professionalism. Further adequate compensation and incentives to upskill or reskill are essential. These policies and practices are especially important in this era of challenging pedagogic reform, evolving views of learning and new roles for teachers as learning designers. Teacher policies and practices contribute to the high standing of teachers in Singapore and the consistent high performance of Singapore students in international assessments.
Lisa Kervin and Barbara Comber
Teacher research is well established internationally. Teacher research serves an important role for teacher education, both as the object of academic study and as a practice within programs and the profession. Teacher research has the potential to build teacher knowledge for practice, in practice, and of practice. An understanding of the role of research in these different types of knowledge, enables a demonstration of both the richness of and potential for the education field. Research has an important role in both preservice and in-service education and the potential to bring about change personally, professionally, and politically.
Doris A. Santoro
Teachers often characterize their interest in and commitment to the profession as moral: a desire to support students, serve their communities, or uphold civic ideals embedded in the promise of public education. These initial and sustaining moral impulses are well documented in research on teaching and teacher education. However, moral commitments can also be a source of teachers’ dissatisfaction and resistance, especially in the age of the market-based Global Education Reform Movement. This article explores the phenomenon of conscientious objection in teaching as an enactment of professional ethics. Conscientious objection describes teachers’ actions when they take a stand against job expectations that contradict or compromise their professional ethics. Teachers who refuse to enact policies and practices may be represented by popular media, school leaders, policymakers, and educational researchers as merely recalcitrant or insubordinate. This perspective misses the moral dimensions of resistance. Teachers may refuse to engage in practices or follow mandates from the standpoint of professional conscience. This article also highlights varieties of conscientious objection that are drawn from global examples of teacher resistance. Finally, the article explores the role of teachers unions as potential catalysts for collective forms of conscientious objection.
Margaret L. Niess
The 21st-century explosion and decisive impact of digital media on education has highlighted the need for rethinking the required teacher knowledge for guiding students in taking advantage of improved technological affordances. The reformed teacher knowledge, called technological pedagogical content knowledge (TPCK or TPACK), is knowledge reflecting a dynamic equilibrium for the interaction of technology, pedagogy, and content. The intersection of these three knowledge domains reveals four additional subsets: technological pedagogical knowledge, technological content knowledge, pedagogical content knowledge and technological pedagogical content knowledge. The summation of these domains resides within the intellectual, social, and cultural contexts of education, to reveal the knowledge known as TPCK/TPACK. Teacher educators, researchers, and scholars have been and continue to be challenged with identifying appropriate experiences and programs for assessing and developing this teacher knowledge for integrating digital technologies as learning tools in reformed educational environments. Two questions guide this review of the literature surrounding the active, international scholarship and research toward understanding the nature of TPCK/TPACK and guiding the development of teachers’ TPCK/TPACK. The response to the first question describes the nature of this teacher knowledge for the digital age and how it differs from prior descriptions of teachers’ knowledge. The response to the second question explores the research and scholarship unveiling how this knowledge is developed and assessed at the pre-service and in-service teacher levels. From this scholarly work, three distinct views on the nature of TPCK/TPACK are proposed to explain various approaches in how this teacher knowledge is both developed and assessed in pre-service and in-service preparation programs. The integrated, heterogeneous vision recognizes the distinctness of the multiple subsets in the model and calls for specific preparation in each of the domains as key to developing the teacher knowledge for the digital age. The transformative, homogeneous vision considers the knowledge as a whole, composed through the integration of the multiple subset. Through the educational processes, the multiple subsets are rearranged, merged, organized, integrated and assimilated in such a way that none are any longer individually discernible. The third vision, called the distinctive vision, acknowledges the critical nature of the primary domains of pedagogy, content and technology and proposes the value of preparing teachers in each of these distinct domains. Supporting teachers for gaining the TPCK/TPACK-based knowledge, the preparation must respond to changes in content knowledge, pedagogical knowledge, and technological knowledge. These cumulative scholarly efforts provide a launchpad for future research focused on developing teachers’ knowledge for teaching in the digital age.
Etta Hollins, Jamine Pozú-Franco, and Liliana Muñoz-Guevara
The central purpose for teaching is advancing the quality of life on planet earth through the organized transmission of intergenerational collective and cumulative knowledge combined with further developing the academic and intellectual capacity of the present generation for building upon and extending existing knowledge, as well as developing new knowledge. Teaching supports the development of the whole person academically, intellectually, physically, psychologically, and socially. This includes developing the ability to take care of one’s self and to support the needs of family and community.
Competence for classroom teaching requires consistently demonstrating adequate subject matter knowledge, professional knowledge, and knowledge of learners for facilitating the growth and development of learners from diverse cultural and experiential backgrounds, and learners with special needs. Knowledge of learners includes familiarity with the home and community cultures, the resources available in the local community, prior knowledge from within and outside school, the research and theory about child and adolescent growth and development, and the aspirations and challenges embraced by both students and their communities.
Teacher preparation programs purposefully designed to support transforming urban schools and communities contextualize professional knowledge and practice for teaching students from cultural and ethnic groups that have been traditionally underserved, isolated, oppressed, who live in poverty or urban areas, or who have experienced cultural and linguistic imperialism. Purposeful teacher preparation provides candidates with a well-designed, interrelated, and developmentally sequenced progression of professional knowledge and learning experiences that foster the development of deep knowledge for learner growth and development.
Examples of purposefully designed teacher preparation programs ensure that candidates have deep knowledge of their personal cultural heritage and language. In the teacher preparation program, candidates learn to make connections between the school curriculum and the cultural traditions, values, practices, and ancestral knowledge from their personal cultural heritage. Candidates learn to apply their understanding of these connections in developing pedagogy and learning experiences for students with whom they share a personal cultural heritage and ancestral knowledge. Through this process candidates learn principles of teaching practice that can be transferred to teaching students with a different cultural heritage and ancestral knowledge. Learning to apply specific principles of practice across cultural groups is developed through shared experiences with peers in the teacher preparation program from different cultural groups and through engaging in guided teaching experiences with students from different cultural groups. Important goals embedded within this approach to teacher training are preserving and restoring the cultural heritage of students and improving the quality of life in the local community and the nation.
Teacher unions (or alternatively “education unions”) are organizations formed to protect and advance the collective interests of teachers and other education workers. What the collective interests of educators entail and how they should be pursued have been and remain active matters for debate within these organizations. Different unions at different times have responded differently to these questions, for example, in relation to the degree to which an industrial versus a professional orientation should be adopted, and the degree to which a wider political and social justice agenda should be embraced.
Several ideal-type models of teacher unionism have been identified, as well as various strategic options that these unions might employ. A spirited debate is ongoing about the legitimacy and power of teacher unions. One perspective portrays them as self-interested special interest groups, and another as social movements advocating for public education. The status of teacher unions as stakeholders in educational policymaking is contested, and union–government relations occur across a spectrum of arrangements ranging from those that encourage negotiation to those characterized by confrontation and hostility.
Internationally, education unions face significant challenges in the early decades of the 21st century. Neoliberal economic and industrial policies and legislation have eroded the capacity of unions to collectively organize and bargain, and the global education reform movement (GERM) has created a hostile environment for education unions and their members. Despite these challenges, education unions remain among the most important critics of GERM and of global neoliberal social policy generally. The challenges posed and the strategies adopted play out differently across the globe. There is evidence that at least some unions are now prepared to be far more flexible in adopting a “tapestry” of strategies, to examine their internal organization, build alliances, and develop alternative conceptions of the future of education. Researchers, however, have identified certain internal factors in many teacher unions that pose significant obstacles to these tasks. Unions face difficult choices that could lead to marginalization on the one hand or incorporation on the other.