‘Head’ and ‘Heart’ Work: Re-Appraising the Place of Theory in the ‘Academic Dimension’ of Pre-Service Teacher Education in England

Janet Orchard, Lucy Kelly, Carrie Winstanley


This paper reflects on the needs of early career, pre-service and newly qualified teachers (NQTs) in the English education system, specifically the contested place of what we term the academic dimension within their pre-service professional formation. This largely theoretical paper begins with a philosophical review of an established debate concerning the relationship between theory, research, and professional knowledge in teaching, arguing that the discussion is irreducibly normative. Hogan's notion of teaching as "heart work" is extended to include "head work" and the case made for teachers developing a conceptual map as part of their professional formation to guide them in making good judgements in classrooms. From this, a pedagogical problem follows, in developing new approaches to engage teachers with theory given this is relatively absent in the English context. Four themes are identified from a brief review of existing studies concerned with engaging teachers in the academic dimension of pre-service teacher education which we relate to illustrative comments we have gathered informally from our own students which suggest they may appreciate the value of critical reflection on practice promoted by universities more than some policy makers in this context recognise. We conclude by suggesting ways in which one innovation in ITE in England with which we have been involved, Philosophy for Teachers (P4T), integrates the academic dimension and developing practice which relate to the four themes found in the review of existing literature, while focused on educational theory specifically. P4T fosters, we maintain, characteristically humanistic and relational reflection that is otherwise under-represented in professional formation for pre-and in-service teachers in England.

Klíčová slova

theory; practice; critical reflection; teacher education; England


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