‘Tapisserie' - a curriculum design model to illuminate the complex task of teacher education program re-development in a context of mounting accreditation and myriad changing policies, agendas and perspectives, based on research undertaken at the University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia.

Year: 2013

Author: Simon, Sue

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

How can we, as teacher educators, remain true to our mission of inspiring a high level of teacher quality through creative and engaging teacher educator programs, whilst our energy, time and expertise is for the most part spent in weaving myriad professional and academic considerations into an increasingly complex teacher education canvas? Teacher education programs in 2013 must demonstrate their designers' cognisance of and incorporation of all the characteristics stipulated by a growing number of internal and external accreditation bodies - an approach which seems to leave little room for individuality or innovation. In the current teacher education environment in Australia, this design process is increasingly dominated by the continual essential mapping of professional standards to produce an accreditation-worthy product. During 2012, in response to increased internal and external accountability, teacher educators at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia, researched what needed to be changed in their existing teacher education programs in order to achieve compliance with the National Professional Standards for Teachers and for their Initial Teacher Education Programs. The metaphor of ‘tapestry weaving' soon became one which enabled us to have a clear vision of the countless threads to be accommodated and it enriched contributors' understanding of the complex process of weaving these together effectively. Gray's (1993) assertion that ‘metaphors are powerful tools for understanding and encourage lateral thinking' held true for those involved with this process. We faced various challenges during the process including changing perspectives, agendas and anticipated outcomes. A tapestry methodology, inspired by Denzin and Lincoln's ‘bricolage' (patchwork) methodology (2000), emerged during this complex task of re-developing our teacher education programs. The resultant ‘tapisserie' model highlights the essential stable ‘warp threads' and the subsequent interweaving of myriad ‘weft threads'. The crucial ‘warp threads' for us at the University of the Sunshine Coast were the core values of the education team which would provide structure and navigation through numerous ‘weft threads', which comprised: internal academic policy requirements and graduate attributes; the National Professional Standards for Graduate Teachers; additional Queensland Government requirements; and, other mandated stipulations such as the Australian Qualifications Framework Level 7 Threshold Learning Outcomes. The model assists teacher educators' understanding of this complex process within a rigorous accreditation environment, preserves their collective wisdom, vision and creativity and it can guide others tasked with similar requirements in teacher education and other fields both within Australia and internationally.