Case Studies of Reflective Teacher Education

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Tcwhiny & T~~uder khm~rron, Printed in Great Britam

Vol 9, No. 4. pp. 431-438,

1993

0742-051X:93 S6.00 + 000 Prrpamon Press LLd

REFLECTIVE

TEACHER

EDUCATION:

TECHNIQUE

OR EPISTEMOLOGY?

HUGH

MUNBY

and TOM
Ontario,

RUSSELL
Canada

Queen’s

University,

AN ESSAY-REVIEW

OF REFLECTIVE TEACHER CASES AND CRITIQUES
NY: State University

EDUCATION:

Linda Valli (Ed.) (1992). Albany,

of New York Press (ISBN O-7914-

1131

1)

“Where

do you come from?”

said the Red Queen. “And where are you going?” Through the Looking Glass

Lewis Carroll,

Rejective Teacher Education: Cases and Critiques consists of two parts, and could well be described as two books in one. Part I, “Case Studies of Reflective Teacher Education,” presents multi-author descriptive accounts of seven preservice programs by individuals who have helped to develop and sustain the programs. Part II, “Critiques of Reflective Teacher Education,” contains six single-author chapters that respond in very different ways to the seven case studies. Editor Linda Valli provides an introduction and an afterword and is a co-author of one of the case studies. This is an important collection. The seven teacher education programs include a variety of approaches that demonstrate that teacher education is responding to research knowledge. The six critical chapters in the second part generally present clear yet disquieting views of the many important problems that still confront teacher education. The title of the collection will attract an audience that may be disappointed, for the collection confirms that “reflective teacher education” does not exist in any coherent sense.

Each of the seven programs has unique assumptions and organizing principles, some working with little more than a common-sense definition of reflection that seems to come naturally to all teacher educators. The six critiques similarly convey unique senses of “reflection.” This collection will certainly stimulate productive thinking about issues and tensions within teacher education, but there is no shared sense of “reflection” to give direction to future developments. In her Introduction, Valli ascribes the growth of interest in reflection to a variety of sources: the fragmentation of knowledge by processproduct research, the increasing dominance of cognitivism over behaviorism, and the press for the empowerment of teachers. “The convergence of interest in teacher thinking and reflectivity by scholars ranging from cognitive psychologists to critical theorists suggests a broad based and long-term commitment to understanding and fostering reflective practice” (p. xiv). By suggesting that reflection is itself a conceptual orientation to teacher education, and by using “inquiryoriented” as a synonym for “reflective,” Valli

This essay is from the 1992-1995 research project, “Case study research in teachers’ professional knowledge” (Hugh Munby and Tom Russell, Principal Investigators), funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. The authors acknowledge the contribution of David Boote, Research Assistant, to the development of this essay. 431

432

HUGH MUNBY

and TOM RUSSELL

establishes a base broad enough to include all seven case studies. Yet this move also ensures that there will be no coherent theme or perspective, and as she notes, the orientations range from views of good teaching to epistemological criteria (p. xviii). The orientations discussed include Kennedy’s (1989) two conceptions of good teaching, van Manen’s (1977) three levels of reflection, Doyle’s (1990) five themes, and the three perspectives on reflection developed by Grimmett, MacKinnon, Erickson, and Riecken ( 1990). While these and other attempts to classify approaches to teacher education and to reflection arc usefully reviewed in Valli’s Introduction. we found the idea of a conceptual orientation too lightly treated to assure us that...
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