Macintyre, Donald McMaster
Exploring understandings of the competence vocabulary : implications for understanding teacher competence.
PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.
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The aim of this thesis is to explore the vocabulary of competence, to analyse conceptualisations of competence and to unravel understandings that then have implications for preparation and professional development of teachers in Scotland.
Through discussion of the context for assessing teacher competence and a presentation of the accountability movement’s proposals for criteria that purport to measure teacher competence, differing conceptualisations of teaching are examined. At one end of the spectrum there are conceptions of teaching as a dialectical activity while at the opposite end there are conceptions of teaching as a mechanistic activity. It is the contention of this thesis that the conceptualisation of teacher competence reflects directly on the conceptualisation of teaching that dominates current political thinking on the purposes of education. An analysis of the discourse of competence and the vocabulary of competence is then revelatory of the underlying dimensions and conceptualisations of teaching held by the ‘leadership class’ or ‘policy community’.
Following a lengthy critique of alternative conceptions of competence where it is realised that there is little real consensus – even among advocates of competence approaches to training and education – about what constitutes a definitive conceptualisation of competence, there is an attempt to regain ground through an understanding of competence that accords with a more traditional understanding of what the ‘notion of competence’ implies. Competence in this regard is considered as a deep understanding that is actually constitutive of action. Understood, this is not just that understanding lies behind action, but that understanding determines the approach to action. Such a notion of competence reflects how a person conceives their world and what then drives them to action.
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