Teaching is a complex activity, in fact it is one of the most complex occupations (Rowan 1994). There are many reasons for this. For example teachers have responsibility for diverse groups of students with varied and complex needs. Teachers are constantly making decisions: planning decisions, decisions during teaching, and decisions after teaching. An effective and informed teacher makes these decisions on the basis of a deep understanding of both their subject matter and education theory. Certainly skills are also essential and all teachers, however experienced, need to constantly up date their skills.
The Professional Teacher
Defining what it means to be professional is problematic. However one characteristic of gaining professional status is the requirement of a period of specialised training. For teachers in the Lifelong Learning Sector (LLS), the requirement to undergo any form of training has a troubled history. Less than ten years ago, Hall & Marsh noted the following:
“There is much evidence that the role and status of teachers in society has diminished over the years, and the move to employ minimally trained assessors and instructors in colleges, and to delegate the employment of part-timers to commercial agencies, makes it necessary to re-assert a belief in the proper designation of teaching as a professional activity” Hall & Marsh (2000:1)
Since this was written there has been major reform of teacher training in the LLS in England. In Equipping our teachers for the future (DfES 2004) the then Department for Education and Skills outlined proposals for the reform of initial teacher education in LLS. As most of you will know, with effect from September 2007 there is a requirement for all untrained teachers in the sector to undertake a new teaching qualification devised by Lifelong Learning UK (LLUK). These developments in relation to Professionalism in the LLS are explored in detail in the course Wider Professional Practice, so we will not be exploring the developments per se.
Nevertheless, Hughes, in Hall & Marsh (2000:6) argues that because of their specialised training professionals expect to be accorded discretion in dealing with matters in their area of expertise. This course will introduce you to some of the debates in relation to the use and development of teachers’ expertise. You will be encouraged to consider whether a movement towards an increasingly centralised and highly specified curricula limits opportunities for teachers to use their professional judgement and expertise. You will be introduced to key concepts in curriculum theory and encouraged to develop an interest in the area and undertake some further reading with the aim of becoming more professional in your appraisal of the current curriculum context – particularly in your subject area.
These materials are divided into three sections:
Section One: The Curriculum considers what is meant by the term curriculum and evaluates definitions. It examines factors that influence the curriculum and assesses the influence of the local and national context. Finally some models of the curriculum are considered. These are used to clarify the key components of a curriculum and also to highlight the processes involved in curriculum development.
Section Two: Inclusive Learning: Equality and Diversity focuses on the Inclusive Curriculum, a curriculum approach designed to ensure that all students, regardless of their previous achievement are able to achieve their full potential. This section examines the diversity of students in the LLS and some of the factors that affect learning and achievement such as race, class, gender and sexuality.
Section Three: Curriculum Design for Inclusive practice identifies three current approaches to curriculum design and asks a fundamental philosophical...