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Teacher learning and language : subtitle a pragmatic self-study Gudjonsson, Hafthor


The study presented here addresses teacher learning. It is a 'self-study' in the sense that it is directed to my own efforts as a teacher educator in Iceland to establish a new kind of learning environment for my student teachers, guided by the view that, in doing so, I might better understand more generally what learning to teach entails and how such learning might be facilitated. I ask, "How teachers learn to think and act in particular ways?" Approaching this question, I turn inward, asking myself what and how I was learning when trying to build the new learning environment. However, the study also includes an inquiry into my own practice as a secondary school chemistry teacher, in particular my efforts to readapt to the culture of my school after two years of graduate studies in another country but also my efforts to bring the complexities of my own chemistry teaching to my student teachers on campus. Records collected for this study include my own research journal, copies of my student teachers' written coursework, and audio tapings from our conversations both on campus and in school practicum settings. In the last case, the student teachers' school advisers were also involved. Beginning to analyze these records, I found myself grappling with fundamental questions related to the act of inquiry. Exploring this issue I became drawn to Rortyan pragmatism and this encouraged me to approach my records imaginatively, keeping in mind that my responsibility was to come up with descriptions that might point to new possibilities for teacher educators to improve their practices. Following this lead, I have tried, in this study, to examine my records in light of both pragmatic and sociocultural perspectives. Two major themes emerged in the course of these explorations, that is (a) learning to teach as "personal" and as "social" and (b) the role of language in learning to teach. I conclude that it may be useful to see learning to teach both as "personal" and "social". Besides, I suggest that seeing learning to teach as a scenario of "language games" might turn out as a useful description.

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