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.
Teacher Quality in Singapore
Sylvia Chong and Saravanan Gopinathan
Teacher Activism in the United States
Kurt Stemhagen and Tamara Sober
There are a variety of ways in which teachers engage in activism. Teachers working for social change within their classrooms and teachers who engage in advocacy and organize to influence policy, law, and society are all doing work that falls under the umbrella of teacher activism. While there are numerous catalysts, many teachers become activists when they encounter unjust educational or social structures. There are also considerable obstacles to teachers recognizing their potential power as activists. From the gendered history of teaching to the widespread conception of teaching as a solitary and not a collective enterprise, there is rarely an easy path toward activism. The importance of collective as opposed to individual social action among teachers is increasingly recognized. Many cities now have teacher activist organizations, a group of which have come together and created a national coalition of teacher activist groups. Overall, teacher activism is an underresearched and undertheorized academic area of study. Possibilities for collective action should be fully explored.
Mentoring Across Teacher Career Stages
Beverly J. Irby, Nahed Abdelrahman, and Rafael Lara-Alecio
In education, mentoring is generally defined as a supporting and guiding relationship between an experienced teacher and a preservice or in-service teacher with less experience. Individual studies regarding mentoring in teachers’ specific career trajectories have been conducted; however, a meta-study chronicling such trajectories—of published works on the mentoring of teachers across their career stages, phases, or trajectories—has not been accomplished. Based on a critical review of 1,051 studies, an overview of practical insights for those who mentor teachers or for teachers who are mentored across career levels, as well as an example of a teacher career phase model with mentoring can be observed.
Preparing Pre-Service Teachers for Rural Schools
Amy Price Azano, Jayne Downey, and Devon Brenner
Preparing pre-service teachers for rural schools has been a challenge in the field of education for more than a century, and issues specific to the rural teacher workforce remain a persistent and salient challenge in the United States and globally. This task is complex and multifaceted, conflated with a wide range of contextual variations in salaries, community amenities, geographic or professional distances, technology access, health disparities, and poverty rates. Additionally, institutions of higher education have wavered in their interest in and commitment to rural teacher education, though there is a growing awareness of the need to attend to the experiences of students in rural communities and the educators who teach them. The literature and research on rural teacher preparation has typically been organized around the three challenges of preparation (post-secondary education), recruitment (youth aspirations to teach, would-be career changers interested in teaching, and division-level efforts to staff schools with effective teachers), and retention (providing pre-service and new teachers with learning experiences and support that increase the likelihood of remaining in the profession in rural schools). Literature on rural teacher preparation and evidence related to “preparation, recruitment, and retention” can be repositioned to offer new insights focused on solutions. Three focus areas—Curriculum, Context, and Conveyance—serve to answer the question: What makes a teacher preparation program rural? Curriculum serves as a core component for preparing rural teachers. A rural curriculum for a teacher education program includes introducing students to content and experiences, including field experiences, that have been designed to support their professional and personal success in rural schools and communities. Context is understanding the strengths and assets of the rural places, communities, and cultures in which pre-service teachers are preparing to live, learn, and teach. Context allows us to consider the unique environments in which rural teachers live and work. Conveyance is the means by which potential teachers have access to teacher preparation programs, that is, how programs are delivered and structured to provide access to potential teachers in rural communities (online, in person, alternative and traditional programs, etc.). A focus on Curriculum, Context, and Conveyance allows school leaders and education researchers to resist deficit ideologies and to consider how rural communities are asset-rich environments, ultimately increasing resources that prepare teachers for, and build from the strengths of, rural communities.
School-Led Programs of Teacher Training in England Versus Northern Europe
Models of teacher education that involve close links between teachers in schools and teacher educators in universities have become commonplace, developed in response to changing educational-policy contexts of many governments worldwide. Reforms to teacher education in the U.K. since the late 20th century, and especially in England since 2010, have shifted control and content of pre-service teacher learning from the university to the school classroom. The process of increasingly centralized control of initial teacher education in England has been mirrored only partially elsewhere in the U.K. and Europe. Teacher-education policy in England has become more school-focused, while many European countries and other nations have extended the process of placing teacher education under the auspices of universities. The findings of a 2015 national review on teacher education in England reflect the contested place of universities in teacher education and proffer a view of the dominant constructions of knowledge for teaching being practical and focused around the immediate demands of contemporary practice in schools. In England a fragmentation of the school system and of the numerous routes into teaching further weakens the conditions through which teacher knowledge is constituted. Changes in school governance, for example, have meant that some schools are no longer required to employ teachers with qualified teacher status. This makes school leaders and school governors crucially placed to facilitate alternative experiences for new teachers learning how to teach, and significantly changes the landscape of teacher education. For example, a former head teacher quoted on the National Association of School-Based Teacher Trainers website has dedicated her career to “growing your own” when it comes to educating new teachers. Influences from the continental European policy of countries such as Finland and Portugal, where all teacher education is at Masters’ degree level, and Norway and the Netherlands, which have made significant policy moves in this direction, have not impacted on current teacher-education policy in England. In England teaching remains a graduate profession. However, it is the differences in teacher-education processes which are the main focus of this article. The Department for Education in England has increased school-led provision in teacher education because, according to the Department, it wants schools to have greater autonomy over how they deliver teacher education. Perhaps most attractive to schools is the possibility of educating teachers “on the job,” as this helps to fill teaching positions in a climate of growing teacher shortage. However, little research has been undertaken on the new role of the school-based teacher educator and how their work is being enacted in schools. The complexity of demands and expectations on school-based teacher educators signals the need for clarity on what this role involves. Such concerns drive new research and raise questions about the nature of teacher education in England and the role of the academy within it.
Teacher Education and Inclusivity
Sarah L. Alvarado, Sarah M. Salinas, and Alfredo J. Artiles
Inclusive teacher education (ITE) defines the professional training of preservice teachers to work in learning spaces encompassing students from all circumstances, regardless of race, linguistic background, gender, socioeconomic status, and special education needs (SEN). This preparation includes the content, pedagogy, and formative experiences required for teachers to work in inclusive schools. To fully understand ITE, it is necessary to examine what is meant by inclusive education (IE). Indeed, it is essential to explore ITE’s definition since scholars and teacher educators have struggled to agree on what is meant by IE. In addition to disagreements about IE’s definition, support for this idea and its implementation may vary due to the cultural, historical, and political differences specific to local contexts. For these reasons, it is necessary to recognize the inclusive policies, practices, and processes that often shape definitions and concepts related to ITE. Notwithstanding the ambitious meanings of ITE across the globe, researchers, professionals, and policymakers tend to emphasize a vision of teacher preparation for working with students with disabilities (SWD) or SEN. Also, there is no consensus about which particular aspects matter in teacher education programs, primarily based on ideological differences about the core goals of IE. These differences in views and beliefs have resulted in limited understandings and applications of ITE. For instance, a student with an SEN may also come from a family living in poverty, with no access to books in the home, or speak multiple languages, including languages that are not a part of their first (formal) educational experiences. In such circumstances, there is no agreement about whether ITE programs should focus on students’ linguistic, socioeconomic, learning differences, or multiple factors. We review the research on ITE in various national contexts. We also discuss how scholars have conceptualized the preparation of future teachers and the implications for greater clarity on how teacher preparation can improve IE in an increasingly diverse society.
Teacher Education in New Zealand
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.
Environmental Education Teacher Training
Miguel Ángel Arias Ortega
The way environmental education has been presented as a viable response to the emergence of national, regional, and global environmental problems since the 1970s is reviewed; as well as some environmental education presuppositions, approaches, and aims with which a field of knowledge and educational practices have been constituted and provided to the individual, to help re-evaluate and redefine the established forms of relationship and exchange with society and nature. Also, the concepts of education and environmental education are examined as they are considered the starting point for undertaking teacher education processes and the potential to generate a new environmental culture in society. At the same time, certain inconsistencies in this process are observed, along with the analysis of some distinctive features (knowledge, attitudes, abilities, and skills) a teacher who is trained in the field of environmental education must possess. General reflections on environmental education teacher training and its processes which are meant to increase debate and discussion on the subject are included, together with the description of some educational experiences developed in different areas and levels that aim to innovate in the reflection and practice of environmental education. Finally, some clues are given to help the design and development of training proposals for environmental education teachers with a greater social, scientific, critical, and humanistic projection.
Longitudinal Study of Teachers
Clive Beck, Clare Kosnik, and Elizabeth Rosales
The longitudinal study of teachers gives a time perspective on the life and work of teachers, instead of just a snapshot at a particular point. The time period in question may be just a few intense months, as in some ethnographic research, or several decades, as in some life-history research. Longitudinal research is useful in exploring such topics as how teachers change and grow over their careers, changes in teachers’ professional satisfaction over the years, patterns of teacher retention and drop-out, the impact of teachers on their students over time, and the influence of preservice and/or in-service teacher education on teachers. Continuous study of the same teachers over many years is challenging and accordingly not common. It is typically expensive and time-consuming, and extends beyond the time span of most research funding; moreover, many participants either leave the profession or move to other locations, making it difficult to keep in touch with them. Accordingly, additional ways to do longitudinal research need to be found: for example, studying teachers intensively for a shorter period; asking teachers to recall earlier phases in their life and/or career; or studying different cohorts of teachers at various career points (as in the classic Huberman study and parts of the U.K. VITAE research). Each of these methods has limitations but maintains the valuable outcome of providing a time perspective. Where it can be arranged, however, interviewing the same teachers at intervals over several years has the advantage of enabling researchers to get to know the participants well. As a result, the researchers are in a better position to understand what the participants are saying in the interviews, and assess the veracity of their self-reporting about their views and practices, past and present. Also, a degree of trust is established such that the teachers are more likely to be frank about their feelings, challenges, and concerns. But one danger of the emerging relationship is that the support the relationship it provides may positively impact the teachers’ experience (e.g., helping them fine-tune their practice and maintain their morale to an unusually high level). This limitation has to be weighed against the advantages in deciding whether or not to use this approach to the longitudinal study of teachers.
A Search for the Heart of Teacher Education Through Curriculum
Most of the millions of teachers in public and private schools have gone through teacher preparation programs. Preparing a person to teach is a centrally important, complicated, and many-layered process that carries deep responsibilities for the people who prepare those teachers, namely, teacher educators. So, it is not surprising that, even in the face of over 1,400 research studies about its effectiveness, there are still ongoing debates about the impact of teacher preparation on teachers in classrooms. It is not uncommon to see claims that teacher preparation is vitally important and, at the same time, claims that teacher preparation makes little difference. Because of myriad philosophies and varied desired outcomes, experts who design the pedagogy and content have varying touchstones for excellence that are put into programs along with variation in courses, admission, and degree requirements. How is it possible to get to the “heart” of preparing knowledgeable and caring teachers? There seems to be no one curriculum for the thousands of people entering the classrooms across America, so how can educators design and implement the methods that will best serve students in classrooms all across the country? Many underlying philosophies and values, as well as research, steer this enterprise—which leads to more confusion and angst. There has always been the quest for a “one shoe fits all” model for definitive curriculum, so epochs in teacher preparation can be traced back to when ideas and practices shifted. Other, varied sources contribute to the implementation and goals of teacher education: state and federal governments, education college research faculty, and local Boards of Education. The necessary professional credentials should be a factor (and ideally the same in all states), but ways to obtain teaching credentials are currently multiplying as alternative pathways are being created at a rapid pace. Then, there is the central question: Who is speaking for the welfare of the children in a united voice? Certainly, everyone in this endeavor should never forget that the purpose of a free and public education, both in the United States and other countries, is to create a literate population who can support and sustain a democracy. The ongoing quest is to discover what constitutes the heart of teacher preparation.
Career Change Teachers: Caveat and Opportunities in Workforce Planning for Schools
Babak Dadvand, Merryn Dawborn-Gundlach, Jan van Driel, and Chris Speldewinde
Teacher shortage has emerged as a significant policy concern in post-pandemic times, prompting governments to attract more individuals into the teaching profession, including those with career experiences outside schools and the education sector. The term “career change teachers” refers to those who enter teaching often later in life after spending some time in other professions. Career change teachers have qualities that make them particularly attractive candidates for teaching, including a strong sense of purpose and a commitment to care, up-to-date content knowledge, practical skills that can make learning more engaging and meaningful for students, and a broad set of organizational skills from their previous career or careers. Various incentives from governments throughout the world and a growing number of alternative pathways into teaching that combine intensive studies with teaching duties have offered more flexibility for individuals to undertake their Initial Teacher Education (ITE) mid-career. However, front-focused policy solutions that prioritize teacher recruitment over teacher retention tend not to address the revolving door of admission and attrition. Loss of investment occurs when new teachers, including career changers, leave the profession prematurely because they are not adequately supported during their transition into study and teaching. A retention-focused workforce planning strategy is needed, one that addresses the structural and education system-level contributors to high teacher turnover. Such a strategy will have implications for the types of support provided to career change teachers in their transition into ITE and teaching.
Early Childhood Teacher Education in Global Perspective
Olivia N. Saracho
Teacher educators assume that the teacher education programs in their own countries provide a comprehensive scope of possible selections. Nevertheless, how teacher education is planned and implemented differs in each country. They have different practices in both early childhood education and teacher preparation programs, even though American early childhood education theories and practices have guided them. In addition, countries differ in their early childhood education teacher qualifications. Teacher education programs have been attempting to prepare global-minded early childhood teachers who can function in other countries. Teachers who are prepared with global perspectives are able to help students succeed in the interconnected world where they encounter challenges throughout their lives. The globalization of early childhood education and the preparation of teachers in the United States and other countries appear ultimately to be achieving importance, respectability, acknowledgment, and wisdom. Several countries have engaged in transforming early childhood teachers through educational reform, which calls upon countries to expand and improve early childhood care and education. Educational reform has intermittently been a main topic of discourse and seldom an emphasis of commitment in countries around the world. Frequently these reform attempts have emphasized the necessity to advance children’s knowledge, abilities, and views to help them become good citizens and productive adults. Whereas developments may not be equivalent from country to country, the movement is continuous. It is encouraging to see countries functioning to advance programs to prepare teachers of young children and to cope with the demanding difficulties and concerns of early childhood education and the preparation of early childhood teachers.
An Exploration of Evolving Approaches to Teacher Identity Revealed in Literature on Teaching from 2010 to 2018
Teacher identity is conceived in complex ways, in part because of the attention that must be paid to both the personal and the professional dimensions of teaching experience. In addition, teacher identity as a concept is closely intertwined with the notion of teacher agency, as well as with the potential for a teacher to encounter ongoing challenges in the development and adjustment of identity in diverse educational contexts. Literature on teaching from a range of areas—teacher education, preservice teaching, in-service teaching in schools, and university or higher education teaching—reflects a variety of existing approaches to teacher identity. Despite the complexity of the concept, understanding teacher identity remains of critical importance to individual educators, to institutions and to society as a whole.
Professional Development for Inclusive Education
Dries Vansteenkiste, Estelle Swart, Piet Van Avermaet, and Elke Struyf
Any answer to the question “What is professional development (PD) for inclusive education (IE)?” needs to be based on a deep understanding of the nature of IE. Taking fully into account its multileveled nature, encompassing inclusive practice, policy, advocacy, and philosophy, IE appears as a “glocal” phenomenon that is affected by institutions (e.g., accountability, new public management, and neoliberalism) with which it can resonate or collide, resulting in tensions within the educational field. These tensions complicate the endeavors of teachers to orient themselves and their actions because different institutions conceptualize teaching and the role of teachers differently, demanding different and sometimes conflicting things from them. Further, teachers also need to give meaning to perceived similarities, differences, and conflicts between these professionalisms and elements of their own professional identity. This results in specific concerns for teachers and imposes challenges for teachers’ agency. PD based on this understanding of IE refers to creating and exploiting spaces where the different actors involved address the complexities of, and coconstruct, a teaching profession that is inclusive. This conceptualization implies formal and informal, social and local, embedded, open-ended practices that can strengthen teacher agency. To do this, it needs to recognize the teacher as being at the center of PD. These spaces are experimental zones for the exertion of agency, incorporating transformative ideals which can involve developing a different behavior repertoire, changing the immediate professional context, or addressing contradictory institutions. As such, PD is not regarded as the prerequisite for IE, but as its consequence.
Dual Certification Programs
Linda Blanton and Marleen Pugach
Dual certification refers to a teaching license both for general primary and/or secondary education and special needs education simultaneously. This term is unique to the United States, where licensure policy has traditionally offered options for teacher candidates to earn an initial stand-alone license in either general or special needs education, and contrasts with initial teacher education policy patterns outside the United States, where teachers are not typically permitted to earn an initial license for special needs education alone. Various forms of dual certification have existed in the United States for many decades, but until recently they were not the norm. Contemporary teacher educators and policymakers in the United States have adopted and encouraged dual certification as a way of supporting the preparation of teachers for effective inclusive teaching. As a result, dual certification is viewed as a means of restructuring and expanding the entirety of the preservice, initial teacher education curriculum to become highly responsive both to the increasing diversity of students and to the wider range and more complex needs of students who struggle in school, among them students with special needs. Because dual certification addresses the vital question of how best to prepare initial teachers for inclusive teaching, its fundamental, underlying concerns transcend specific national structural or policy issues regarding licensure. Instead, dual certification reflects a focus on the content of initial teacher preparation writ large regarding what kinds of redesigned, reconceptualized clinical, course, and curricular experiences might be most effective in preparing teachers for high-quality inclusive teaching practice. Dual certification calls into question the nature of teacher expertise, challenging basic beliefs about where the responsibility of general education teachers ends and where that of special needs education teachers begins. In this way, dual certification can be viewed as a specific national policy vehicle that addresses common international concerns for developing appropriate preservice curricula that are responsive to the demands of inclusive educational practice. Implementing dual certification is not without its challenges, however, as reflected in some of the early and ongoing attempts at implementation. Therefore, it is critical both to anticipate potential pitfalls as well as to identify potential solutions that are appropriate to the fundamental purposes of preparing teachers for inclusive practice.
World Scenario of Regulatory Bodies of Teacher Education Programs
Bhujendra Nath Panda, Laxmidhar Behera, and Tapan Kumar Basantia
The regulation of teacher education is important to promote quality educator preparation across the world, and many countries have regulatory bodies in the attempt to ensure this. Yet, the quality of teacher education in many corners of the globe is falling. Lack of maintenance and deterioration of professional standards are found in various programs and policies, for example, in access or admission policies, appointment of personnel, infrastructure maintenance, and modes or styles of delivering pedagogical skills, among others. Teacher education programs around the world are not governed by a single system. There are various modes though which teacher education is offered, such as departments of education in universities or institutions, independent teacher education universities or institutions, and the like. Regulatory bodies regarding teacher education, which originated after the middle of the 20th century, mainly perform these prime functions: provide recognition or affiliation to the teacher education institutions based on certain criteria; set standards for the infrastructure of the institutions for running the programs; define or regulate the curricula of the programs; and formulate guidelines for the award of certificates, diplomas, and degrees. The nature and functions of regulatory bodies vary from country to country, keeping in mind the contextual demand of teacher education in the respective countries. Teacher education regulatory bodies are more visible in federal or decentralized countries because of the diverse features and complex nature of their teacher education systems. A regulatory body becomes dysfunctional when it deviates from its main concerns and objectives; for example, it is observed in some cases a regulatory body of teacher education performs accreditation-related functions, whereas in other cases the accreditation body of education performs the regulatory function of teacher education. Yet, the regulatory bodies of teacher education should work according to the mandates and objectives entrusted to them. When a regulatory body of teacher education system is free from impediments that affect it and works with zeal to achieve its mandates, it can effectively increase the quality of the teacher education system. The stakeholders of a teacher education system feel better about the system when its regulatory body is transparent, constructive, and trustworthy.
Preparation of German Special Educators for the 21st Century
Rolf Werning and Myriam Hummel
The implementation of inclusive education in school systems creates new working conditions for all professionals. As a consequence, roles and responsibilities need to be redefined between general education teachers and special educators, and teacher education must be reformed to prepare professionals for the working environment they face in the 21st century. Three theoretical approaches guide the current discourse on teacher education. The competence theory approach focuses on the identification and acquisition of specific competencies. The structural theory approach stresses the importance of dealing with uncertainties and antinomies in the teaching profession. The professional biographical approach highlights the ongoing process of individual professionalization and includes biographical research. Taking the changing working environment into account, a three-pillar model is suggested for teacher education of future primary and secondary teachers, primary and secondary teachers with a focus on special education, and special educators as external support for schools.
Teacher Education and Whiteness and Whiteness in Teacher Education in the United States
Cheryl E. Matias, Naomi W. Nishi, and Geneva L. Sarcedo
A litany of literature exists on teacher preparation programs, known as teacher education, and whiteness, which is the historical, systematic, and structural processes that maintain the race-based superiority of white people over people of color. The theoretical frameworks of Critical Race Theory (CRT) and Critical Whiteness Studies (CWS) are used to explore whiteness and teacher education separately; whiteness within teacher education; the impact of teacher education and whiteness on white educators, educators of Color, and their students; and cautions and recommendations for teacher education and whiteness. Although teacher education and whiteness are situated within the current US sociopolitical context, the historical colonial contexts of other countries may find parallel examples of whiteness. Within this context, the historical purposes behind teacher education and the need for quality teachers in an increasingly diverse student population are identified using transdisciplinary approaches in CRT and CWS to define and describe operations of whiteness in teacher education. Particularly, race education scholars entertain the psychoanalytic, philosophical, and sociological ruminations of race, racism, and white supremacy in society and education to understand more fully how whiteness operates within teacher education. For example, an analysis of psychological attachments found in racial identities, particularly between whiteness and Blackness, helps to fully comprehend racial dynamics between teachers, who are overwhelmingly racially identified as white, and students, who are predominantly racially identified as of Color. Whiteness in teacher education, left intact, ultimately affects K-12 schooling and students, particularly students of Color, in ways that recycle institutionalized white supremacy in schooling practices. Acknowledging how reinforcing hegemonic whiteness in teacher education ultimately reifies institutional white supremacy in education altogether; implications and cautions as well as recommendations are offered to debunk the hegemonic whiteness that inoculates teacher education. Note: To symbolically reverse the racial hierarchy in our research, the authors opt to use lowercase lettering for white and whiteness, and to capitalize “people of Color” to recognize it as a proper noun along with Black and Brown.
The Status of Teachers
Linda Hargreaves and Julia Flutter
Internationally, the status of teachers is fraught with ambiguity, contradiction, and complexity. Status, simply defined as one’s “standing in society,” has undergone many redefinitions as lives and societies have become more nuanced and complex. Status, historically ascribed through inheritance and wealth, has been largely replaced by status achieved through individual effort, study, and achievement. The medical, legal, and clerical professions have traditionally enjoyed high status for their specialist qualifications and social responsibility, although the correlation between academic success and the comfortable family socioeconomic circumstances in which many aspiring to these professions also lends them a large element of ascribed status. Teachers experience a status paradox. For many, teaching has been a route out of the working class toward a more professional status. Teachers, in many countries but not universally, are highly trained, well qualified, dedicated, and trusted in their communities. Relative to the medical profession, however, teachers are poorly paid, and experience poor working conditions, limited professional autonomy, and high accountability. Their participation in trade union activities prompts debate as to whether teaching should be classed as a “profession.” Yet, despite the 1966 UNESCO and the International Labour Organization’s strong recommendation that teaching should be recognized as a profession and accorded high status, it remains at best a semiprofessional occupation. There is great variation across the globe in public respect and government treatment of teachers. International comparative surveys lack overall consensus but suggest that teachers in Taiwan, major Chinese cities, and Finland enjoy high status as compared with those in Brazil, Israel, and Italy, for example. Classic theories of status include those of Karl Marx and Max Weber. For Marx it is determined by socioeconomic status, but for Weber cultural and social affiliations can outweigh economic factors. Teaching straddles the two. Twentieth-century theorists, such as Talcott Parsons in the United States, have linked status to educational achievement. Pierre Bourdieu relates status to social reproduction of social class-related “habitus” in taste and consumption and Anthony Giddens to individual lifestyle choices not necessarily related to status. Recent research in England supports Weber’s cultural determinants, but international surveys reveal complex and debatable relationships between pay, student performance, and status. High percentages of the public think teachers deserve higher salaries that are linked to performance. Teaching as a lifestyle choice still appears to be motivated at least as much by intrinsic, “psychic” rewards as by well as extrinsic ones. Teachers rate their own status lower than do those who work with them. A recent international survey of teachers found over two-thirds in general, and over 95% in Sweden, France, and the Slovak Republic, thought teaching was not valued in society. The portrayal of teachers in the media may be relevant here. While this has become more positive in tone and prominence in England since the 1990s, there are wide cultural differences internationally. Improving teacher status is a complex challenge. Potential contributory factors include higher entry standards and competition to join; the creation of professional associations, as opposed to unions; improved and safe conditions of work; higher pay linked to performance; professional autonomy and involvement in decision-making; and teachers themselves rating their status more highly. The UNESCO Global Sustainable Development Goals for Education 2030 provide a set of overarching aims for the future of teacher status, envisaging teachers not as adults in a child’s world, but as orchestrators of national sustainable development.
Teacher Education in Singapore
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?