The constructive nature of teachers' learning

Year: 1997

Author: Lawson, Michael, McInerney, Peter, Smyth, John, Hattam, Robert

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Teachers are increasingly faced with the challenge of making coherent responses to the often inconsistent, but specific, demands made by community and governments. Alongside the rhetoric of increasing freedom and responsibility to decide their own affairs teachers are confronted by policies and movements that have direct and specific impacts on their teaching practice. In attempting to develop effective responses in such a context teachers are required to generate more from their own resources: they are required to call more upon their own knowledge and experience and less upon externally provided training and development. In this paper we trace some of the features of this process of teacher learning as it is generated by teachers within the school. The account of teacher learning is illuminated by use of comparisons with models of student learning which are dominated by use of one or another form of constructivism. The influence of observational learning of 'ordinary' and necessary skills and knowledge in a constructivist format is contrasted with training and development practices carried out on teachers that are more characteristic of the transmission model of teaching, now regarded as an ineffective vehicle for development of powerful knowledge and skill in students.