Monday, February 3, 2014

Hargreaves, A. (1995). Development and Desire: A Postmodern Perspective.

Hargreaves, A. (1995). Development and Desire:  A Postmodern Perspective.  In Guskey, T. and Huberman, M. (Eds.), Professional Development in Education:  New Paradigms and Practices.  New York:  Teachers’ College Press

Notes: Hargreaves argues that the practice and research of teacher development should address the technical competence of teaching, the place of moral purpose in teaching, political awareness, acuity and adeptness among teachers, and teachers' emotional attachments to and engagement with their work. None of these dimensions alone capture all that is important or all there is to know about teacher development. What really matters is the interactions among and integration between them.

Dimensions of teacher development
Good teaching, for most people, is a matter of teachers mastering the skills of teaching and the knowledge of what to teach and how to teach it. Teacher development, in this view, is about knowledge and skill development. This kind of teacher development is well known and widely practised. It can be neatly packaged in courses, materials, workshops and training programs.

Good teaching, however, also involves issues of moral purpose, emotional investment and political awareness, adeptness and acuity. What teacher development might mean in these terms is much less clear; not nearly so easy to package and plan. It touches on the teacher as a person, has relevance for teachers' long term orientations to their work, and impacts on the settings in which teachers teach. These moral, political and emotional aspects of teacher development are less well understood and less widely practised.

1. Technical Skill
It is obvious and uncontentious that good teaching requires competence in technical skills - be these ones of classroom management, mixed-ability teaching, cooperative learning, direct instruction, or whatever. Less obviously, but just as importantly, the possibilities for good teaching also increase when teachers command a wide repertoire of skills and strategies, and can judge how to select them for and adjust them to the child, the content and the moment (Darling-Hammond & Berry, 1988). How teachers (and indeed other professionals) make such judgements and make them well is more elusive (Schon, 1983) and not addressed at all effectively in most forms of teacher development.

2. Moral Purpose
Attending to the moral dimensions of teaching usually involves distinguishing between better and worse courses of action, rather than right and wrong ones. There are no clear rules of thumb, no useful universal principles for deciding between these options. Unlike university philosophers of education, classroom teachers do not have the ethereal privilege of proclaiming their virtue from the high ground.
Teacher development can help teachers articulate and rehearse resolving these moral dilemmas in their work. By reflecting on their own practice, observing and analyzing other teachers' practice or studying case examples of practice, teachers can clarify the dilemmas they face and develop principled, practical and increasingly skillful and thoughtful ways of dealing with them (Groundwater-Smith, 1993). This approach to teacher development elevates the principles of thoughtful, practical judgement above personal prejudice, misleading moral absolutes, or the false certainties of science as a guide to action and improvement (Schön, 1983; Louden, 1991).

3. Political Awareness, Adeptness and Acuity 
First, being a more political and critically reflective teacher means learning about the micropolitical configurations of one's school.
Second, being a more politically aware and developed teacher means empowering and assisting others to reach higher levels of competence and commitment.
Third, being more political means acknowledging and embracing, not avoiding human conflict.
Fourth, for teacher developers themselves, being more political means recognizing that many typical training efforts in knowledge and skill development falsely treat the techniques in which teachers are being trained as universal, generic, neutral and equally applicable to all students irrespective of race, gender and other distinctions.
Fifthly, to return to Liston & Zeichner's (1991) agenda, it is also important to be reflective about the long term political and social consequences of one's classroom work.

4. Emotional Involvement

  • most teacher development initiatives, even the most innovative ones, neglect the emotions of teaching
  • Much of the writing on and practice of teacher development has tended to emphasize its rational, intellectual, cognitive, deliberative and strategic qualities.
  • In one sense, passion, desire and other intense emotions have always been central to teaching.
  • Emotions an pivotal to the quality of teaching. Teacher developers ignore them at their peril.
  • Emotional awareness and emotional growth in teaching can be fostered and sustained through specific techniques such as personal reflective journals, shared discussions of personal and professional life histories, or establishment of teacher support groups, for example. More generally, the development of collaborative school cultures has been shown to create environments in which successes can be shared, vulnerabilities aired, differences acknowledged and trust and tolerance consolidated (Nias et al,1989; Nias et al, 1992; Fullan and Hargreaves, 1991).