Iredale, Alison (2012) Down the rabbit-hole: Routinised Practices, Dewey and Teacher Training in the Lifelong Learning Sector. Higher Education, Skills and Work-based Learning, 2 (1). pp. 54-62. ISSN 2042-3896

This article explores the ideas of John Dewey on experience and experiential learning through the lens of data arising out of recent research with trainee teachers participating in initial teacher training (ITT) within the Lifelong Learning sector in the United Kingdom (UK). The research methodology is qualitative, interpretive and, reflexive in that both congruence and dissonance are being revealed in the data in relation to several theoretical perspectives.
Trainee teachers participate in classroom practice by developing firstly a situated understanding of the concepts and principles surrounding teacher knowledge, secondly strategies for using these in a future situation and thereby assimilating, accommodating and negotiating shared beliefs, identities and values from the practices of a situated community (after Kim and Hannafin 2008 p 1838). Ottesen (2007 p 42) interprets this as knowledge and experience of concepts as taught, derived from knowledge and experience of practice as applied. Being open to possibilities, having time to notice what is or may be significant, to take risks resembles Dewey’s notion of experience as relational and constituted. The environment allows for possibilities, providing an education, a transformative education. Increasingly, given the heavily regulated nature of the lifelong learning workplace, trainee teachers are constrained by a limited “fund”, or repertoire through which to sift for appropriate strategies to employ in a specific situation. Examples of trainee teachers’ responses to synoptic tasks, interpreted through the lens of Deweyan perspectives on experience and experiential learning support the premise that both a broad based and situated course is desirable in order to counteract the routinised nature of much of current practice in the sector.

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