Confronting the ‘pedagogical immunity’ of student teachers.

Student teachers enter teacher education programmes with preconceptions about the nature of teaching that have developed in the course of the years they spent in classrooms as learners. The initial phase of teacher education is a complex process in which many student teachers have to unlearn preconceptions they hold about the nature of teaching that would otherwise constrain their development in learning to teach. This is particularly relevant in the South African context, where the education system has recently undergone radical and multi-faceted transformation. Student teachers do not always get the opportunity to observe supervising teachers modelling conceptually deep, enquiry-based teaching during their Teaching Experience (TE) sessions, so it is sometimes difficult for them to acquire a concept of the type of teaching that university tutors expect. This makes learning to teach particularly complex and challenging. This article reflects on the pedagogical development of a student teacher, Amos, over the four-year period of his Bachelor of Education (B.Ed) degree. It shows how his pedagogical choices were often constrained by the conception he had held that teaching entails ‘providing learners with correct information’. If teacher educators are to enable student teachers to become competent in the practice of organising systematic learning, it is imperative that teacher education programmes explicitly examine, challenge or deepen notions of teaching that student teachers bring with them to their initial teacher education.
Rusznyak, L. (2009). Confronting the ‘pedagogical immunity’ of student teachers. Education as Change, 13(2), 263- 276.