Where do history teachers come from? Professional knowing among early career history teachers

Thompson, Simon J (2010) Where do history teachers come from? Professional knowing among early career history teachers. Doctoral thesis (EdD), University of Sussex.

PDF - Published Version
Download (1MB) | Preview


The Training and Development Agency for Schools continue to set an official agenda
for what constitutes professional knowledge for teachers in England. The Professional
Standards for Teachers (TDA, 2007) set out expectations regarding attributes,
knowledge and understanding and skills for teachers at different stages in their
careers. Such prescriptions have been the subject of critique by the academic
community (Furlong, 2001, Phillips, 2002, Ellis, 2007) for their implicit reductionist
assumptions about professional knowledge. History teacher educators (John, 1991,
Husbands et al, 2003) have long recognised the need to focus on what history teachers
do know, rather than what they should know. However whilst scholarship offers us rich
understandings of those considered experts (Turner-Bisset, 1999) or engaged in initial
teacher education (Pendry, Husbands, Arthur and Davison, 1998), little is known about
the professional knowledge of early career history teachers.
This study explores professional knowing of early career history teachers working in
secondary schools in South East England. Through presenting twelve case studies of
teachers at the end of initial teacher education, induction, experiencing the first two to
three years of teaching and more experienced practitioners the study analyses the
nature of professional knowing as well as its interrelations, origins and development.
Two research questions are addressed:
• What do beginning history teachers know? How does this relate to existing
models of professional knowledge?
• Where does their professional knowledge come from? What are its origins?
What factors influence its development?
The study draws upon a constructivist interpretation of professional knowing (Cochran
et al, 1993) rejecting the static nature of knowledge and instead presents knowing as
a dynamic entity. The study also draws upon Eraut's (1996, 2007) epistemology of
practice, specifically the interplay between context, time and modes of cognition and
reflection as well as conceptions of teaching as a craft (Cooper and McIntyre, 1996).
In addition, the study acknowledges the nature of situated learning and identifies how
early career teachers develop within different communities of practice (Lave and
Wenger, 1991).
Inspired by life history research, a mixed methodology is used to examine how
childhood experiences, schooling and pre-professional education combine with formal
and situated learning. Interviews exploring “critical incidents” (Tripp, 1994) are used to
encourage participants to reflect and associated narratives are analysed using a
constructivist conceptualisation of grounded theory (Charmaz, 2005), to reveal the
temporal and spacial dimensions (Clandinin and Connelly, 2000) of professional
knowing as well as broader “genealogies of context” (Goodson and Sykes, 2001)
telling of changes in history education over the last three decades.
The findings illustrate how early career history teachers draw upon their knowing of
history, pedagogy, resources, learners and context as well as their beliefs and values.
Whilst it will be shown that these areas of knowing can be described and illustrated
discretely, they work in complex ways with each other and decisions, actions or
reflections often necessarily draw upon complex inter- relationships. Whether intuitively
or deliberatively, these ways of knowing are developed through interactions between
personal historical forces, learning situations and shifting professional contexts.
Drawing on these findings the thesis makes an original contribution in presenting a new
model of professional knowing connecting historical, pedagogical, curriculum knowing,
knowing about learners, the context, and ideological knowing with teacher reflectivity;
all situated in an envelope that recognises the roots, complexity and fluidity of what
history teachers know including personal histories, formal and informal learning
experiences and their environments.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Education and Social Work > Education
Subjects: L Education > L Education (General)
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 26 Jan 2011 05:30
Last Modified: 14 Aug 2015 11:10
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/6289

View download statistics for this item

📧 Request an update