Influences on Teacher Educators' identities and its impact on policy translation

Year: 2016

Author: Almeida, Sylvia Christine

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Teacher Educators and Teacher Education Institutions are key change agents and instrumental in promoting and advancing Environmental and Sustainability efforts. Teacher Educators have been acknowledged as ‘agents of reform’ and teacher education has been deemed as key in ushering in policy reforms. Given this heavy impetus on teacher education it is necessary to focus on the attributes that enable teacher educators to be successful in their roles as agents of change. In the recent decades there have been a range of policy initiatives (Gough, 2006; McCrea, 2006) brought in to support and augment the implementing of Environmental and Sustainability Education. Teacher educators have been largely provided the responsibility to spearhead these policy changes and reforms. They play important roles in professionalizing the teaching field, enhancing student teachers learning and thereby contributing to successful outcomes in schools (McKeown, 2014). India has been part of this global push for policy reforms with the National Curriculum Framework and the National Teacher Educators’ curriculum both foregrounding Environmental Education as a key agenda. These have largely been pushed by rapid environmental degradation caused by the large-scale economic developments triggered by post-liberalization. Education has largely been seen as providing an informed citizenry, which can help alleviate the environmental problems. Research supports the need for strong beliefs, pro-environmental attitudes, motivation and passion for many of the teacher education policy reforms to be translated into practice with. In keeping with the AARE’s theme of Transforming Educational Research this year this study discusses ways for a ‘sustained public discourse’ rather than a ‘asserted or trickled down’ approach towards policy implementation. It calls for research that focuses on the challenges of translating policy into practice. This paper draws from a doctoral thesis study of teacher educators’ implementing Environmental Education and discusses key issues of identities as barriers to effective implementation. One of the key concerns in policy implementation is the distancing of ‘self’ in the process. The postcolonial nature of Indian society coupled with tendencies to emulate the ‘other’ in many ways has led to this distancing. This paper urges for reflective practices that promote indigenous practices, pride in ones’ rich culture and competencies to use these local understandings to promote environmental sensitivities. It sheds light on how teacher educators professional identities when strengthened by their pro-environmental cultural identities impacts how polices are viewed, negotiated and implemented by them.