Learning on hold: South-East Queensland preservice teachers and their understanding of lifelong learning.
The concepts of lifelong learning and professional development have become axiomatic within the teaching profession. Indeed, some authors (Australian Council of Deans of Education, 2001; Sachs 2003) argue that lifelong learning is the hallmark of the activist teaching professional and should underpin all teaching practice and beliefs. Furthermore, educational reforms, such as Queensland, Australia's "New Basics" (Education Queensland, 2000), assume that practicing and potential teachers are predisposed and amenable to ongoing professional development. However, younger teachers do not necessarily understand these concepts in the same way as older teachers may do. In this paper I explore how some preservice teachers, who are members of the "Y Generation", understand the concept of lifelong learning and what this might mean for their professional development. "Y Generation" individuals were predominantly born between the years 1979 and 1984. This exploration draws upon new empirical data generated from a larger study where 70 young, aspiring primary school teachers, who reside in the South-East region of Queensland, Australia, were asked to either formulate or critique scenarios of the future. Data were collected using scenario-planning workshops, focus group interviews, and a telephone survey and analysed using Gee's (1999) theoretical concepts of cultural models and Discourses. It will be seen that these future teachers are a paradox. While they acknowledge and champion the concept of lifelong learning, they have a limited understanding of what it might mean for their future lives and particularly their future teaching careers and their teaching practices. Specifically, these future teachers frame their understanding of and engagement with lifelong learning strictly within a technological context. If the expectation is that teaching professionals continually engage in lifelong learning as a means to professional development, then it is of some concern that this cohort of aspiring teachers will enter into the profession with a restricted and truncated understanding of their future professional roles and responsibilities. This study challenges some of the precepts associated with lifelong learning and contributes to a number of fields of study and current and future practices in policy development and teacher training. Firstly, it makes a significant contribution to the fields of futures studies and generational studies where there has been a paucity of studies that have investigated "Y Generation" pre-service teachers and their understanding of their future roles as teaching professionals. It also contributes to the research areas of educational reform and teacher education by providing an alternative perspective and some important considerations for those currently involved in preparing young people to be future activist teaching professionals.
Diversity and Difference in lifelong learning:proceedings of the 35th Annual Conference SCUTREA