A European dimension in teacher education

Livingston, Kay (1999) A European dimension in teacher education. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

This study investigates the incorporation of a European dimension in teacher education in five countries: namely, Denmark, the Netherlands, Portugal, Scotland and Slovakia. To understand changes in teacher education one must explore the wider context and the influences operating on the innovation. Consequently, the discursive frame embraces three levels of analysis; macro (European), meso (national) and micro (institutional and individual teacher educators). The study aims to demystify the definition of a European dimension in education and identify the reasons for its development in teacher education. It considers the influences that have led to the promotion of a European dimension and examines the different approaches taken to implement it in ten teacher education institutions. Of particular interest is the inter-relationship of factors; the links between the definition, rationale and implementation of a European dimension in teacher education, and the links between influences driving implementation and the characteristics of the process. The study goes beyond an investigation of the rhetoric of European, national and institutional documentation. To understand the reality of day-to-day practice in teacher education it draws on evidence collected in sixty-three semi-structured interviews with a total of seventy-seven people. They include officials from the Ministries of Education, personnel from agencies responsible for promoting a European dimension in each country as well as teacher educators. Through the analysis of the primary and secondary evidence the study attempts to make sense of the different discourses. The data collected illustrate the multi-dimensional nature of a European dimension in education and its interaction with a network of concepts including the definition of education itself. The study shows that many policy-makers and teacher educators are hesitant in their definition, either because of their lack of knowledge and understanding of the concept or their perception of its link to political issues. A framework approach to its definition is offered in an attempt to provide the clarity required for course planners to translate a European dimension into curricular reality. The rationales provided by the interviewees are numerous, but following detailed analysis, fall into six main categories at the micro level. The key point that emerges is that despite efforts to achieve a more balanced position, an educational justification appears to take second place to political and economic reasons for including a European dimension in teacher education. Contradictory comments regarding the influences that have led to the promotion of a European dimension highlight the complexity of educational innovations. While there is evidence of some articulation, it is clear that different influences operate at the three levels of analysis. In addition, there is some evidence to suggest that influences operate in subtle or hidden ways. Despite the fact that the approaches to the implementation of a European dimension in the ten teacher education institutions differ, there is remarkable similarity in the general content of the inputs, indicating some convergence in thinking and a developing discourse. Although all the institutions in this study have attempted to implement a European dimension, in the majority of cases it is not firmly embedded in institutional practice. There is a lack of planning which leads to its relegation to the periphery of teacher education. Problems surrounding the incorporation of cross-curricular issues compound this situation. Key factors and themes which influence the process of change are identified. The study suggests that a lack of knowledge and understanding of the concept and the absence of a sound educational justification contribute to the precarious position of a European dimension in teacher education. A new conceptual meaning and a new pedagogical approach is called for if its implementation is to be successful.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Additional Information: Adviser: Walter Humes
Keywords: Teacher education
Date of Award: 1999
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:1999-72869
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 11 Jun 2019 11:06
Last Modified: 11 Jun 2019 11:06
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/72869

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