Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Conceptual orientations in teacher education

Conceptual orientations in teacher education
by Sharon Feiman-Nemser

1. The Academic Orientation
The academic orientation in teacher preparation highlights the fact that teaching is primarily concerned with transmitting knowledge and developing understanding. Traditionally associated with liberal arts education and secondary teaching, the academic orientation emphasizes the teacher's role as intellectual leader, scholar, subject matter specialist. Supporters stress the importance of teachers' academic preparation, which some associate with subject matter knowledge and others with the ideals of liberal learning.

2. The Personal Orientation
The personal orientation places the teacher-learner at the center of the educational process and shifts the emphasis from teaching to learning. Learning to teach is construed as a process of learning to understand, develop, and use oneself effectively. The teacher's own development becomes a central goal of teacher education.

3. The Critical Orientation
The critical orientation combines a progressive social vision with a radical critique of schooling. On the one hand, there is an optimistic faith in the power of education to help shape a new social order; on the other, is a sobering realization that schools have been instrumental in preserving social inequities. Just as the teacher plays an important role in social reform, so teacher education plays a part in the larger strategy of creating a more just and democratic society.

4. Technological Orientation
The technological orientation focuses attention on knowledge derived from the scientific study of teaching. The primary goal is to prepare teachers who can apply professional knowledge to the tasks of teaching. Learning to teach means acquiring and using research-based principles and practices. Competence is measured in performance terms.

5. Practical Orientation
The practical orientation focuses on the elements of craft, technique, and artistry that skillful practitioners reveal in their work. Supporters emphasize the unique, local, uncertain aspects of teaching. They also endorse the primacy of experience as a source of knowledge about teaching and a means of learning to teach.

Source: Feiman-Nemser, S. (1990). Conceptual orientations in teacher education. Issue Paper 902 from the National Center for Research on Teacher Learning at Michigan State University  Retrieved from  

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