Exposing the intricacies of professional practice: Utilising a bourdieuian habitus-field analysis for pre-service teacher education

Year: 2012

Author: Arnold, Julie, Edwards, Tony, Hooley, Neil, Williams, Jo

Type of paper: Abstract refereed


All education proceeds within a complex array of epistemological and ontological factors that constitute a complex learning environment for teachers, pre-service teachers and school students alike. Researching this array has enabled the conceptualisation of professional practice as 'critical praxis.' We have expanded a 'praxis inquiry' protocol into a 'critical praxis' protocol for use in pre-service programs.

Autoethnographic practitioner research has been followed in establishing partnership arrangements with schools and teachers and has drawn us to the work of Bourdieu. We have introduced a process with pre-service teachers of constructing a habitus-field analysis throughout the year. The changing experience of participants has been documented as they encounter new worlds of teaching. This body of data comprising charts, vignettes and commentaries has been analysed for themes and trends characterising the totality of pre-service programs.

Members of the research team have written vignettes of their changing understanding, following which other team members have written brief commentaries as ongoing professional dialogue. Analysis suggests that specific characteristics of the critical praxis protocol such as practice imagined and practice re-imagined are significant and that the mix of ideology critique, self-reflexive consciousness and emancipatory action may only receive superficial consideration by teacher educators.

Bourdieu has offered a way of thinking about how the reflexive relationship between epistemology and ontology interact and where learning is excited and assembled. Our understanding of site-based pre-service teacher education has been strengthened. New concepts of research and knowledge production have emerged as cycles of practice and theorising unfold.