Significant changes in the policy and social context of teaching over the last 30 years have had substantial implications for teacher professionalism. As the influence of central regulation and marketisation has increased, so the scope for professional influence on policy and practice has in many cases diminished. Instead, teachers have had to respond to a range of other demands stemming from broader social changes, including greater public scepticism towards professional authority combined with demands for public services that are more responsive to diverse cultural and social identities.
This collection of work by leading international scholars in the field makes a unique contribution to understanding both how these changes are impacting on teaching and how teachers might change their practice for the better. The central premise of the book is that if research is going to be helpful in improving professional learning and the quality of teachers’ practice, the full potential of three broad approaches to research on teacher professionalism needs to be brought to bear on these issues:
- research on the changing political and social context of professional work and practice
- research on the working lives and lived experiences of teachers, and
- research on how teachers’ professional practices might be enhanced.
In bringing together and drawing out the complementarities of these three approaches, this book represents a ground-breaking collection of work.
Overall this is an impressive proposal, drawing upon an excellent series of seminars (several of which I attended). From the huge number of presentations that were made, the editors have selected and developed a number of papers that will provide a very fresh and challenging collection that is likely to make a significant impact on the field of teacher professionalism. The three perspectives that are used to frame the contents of the book will provide an interesting methodological contribution to the field.
Q1 There is a need for a book of this sort that draws together a range of different approaches to the questions of teacher identity and its links with professionalism. Given the range of the contributions I have no doubt that the book would be of interest in an international market. It is likely to appeal to master’s students, research students and academic staff in Europe, North America and the Antipodes in particular, where the ‘reform’ of teachers and their work has been proceeding apace over the last 10-20 years.
Q2 As indicated above, the main student appeal for this book will be at postgraduate level (although it may be of use to some of the increasing numbers of undergraduates on education studies courses) and, for anyone studying teachers and their work, it is likely to become a text of central importance.
Q4 The proposers name Day et al’s book as the main competitor. I would also suggest that work by Goodson (which they do mention) or by Helsby or Robertson (which they do not) could be seen as significant competitors. However for two reasons I believe this would not be a negative factor if the proposed book were published: as the proposers say, much of the previously published work is now a little past its sell-by date and secondly, what this proposal does is to offer a multi-perspective view of the topic, which the likes of monograph type books such as Goodson’s cannot do.
Q5 While the policy elements of the book may date over 5 years or so, one of the attractive features is that the book will make methodological contributions that will be of longlasting significance, perhaps exceeding 10 years.
Q6 All the editors are known in this field. Mahony and Hextall have an important text from Routledge, Reconstructing Teaching. Gewirtz’s The Managerial School (also Routledge) is a widely cited text. Gewirtz and Cribb have written together for a number of important journal articles.
All of the contributors are well known scholars, representing a range of disciplinary backgrounds, including leading sociologists (such as Evetts and Gleeson) social policy researchers (eg Clarke and Newman) as well as education researchers (Black, Biesta, Lingard etc). The range of UK and international experiences represented is also impressive (Reeves from Scotland, Jones on UK as a whole, Lingard from Australia and Lipman from USA).
Q7 My only real question about coverage is whether the introduction/Chapter 1 (or the preface by Michael Apple) will – as presently conceived – deal adequately with the global dimensions of the work. Is there enough synthesis here to really make the most of the various contributions? This will be important in making the volume really making the most of its contents. I wonder whether the editors might construct a final chapter that does some of this work more explicitly.
Q8 I think this book should be published; it is likely to be very well received.
Q9 If the volume is contracted, then I would encourage a speedy production, given the absence of equivalent work at present and given the considerable interest around the world in the ways in which teachers and their work are changing.
University of Glasgow