The Past and Future of Literacy Training for Teachers
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Three propositions underpin this paper. First, that literacy capabilities in a nation's population are significant for community, cultural and economic development; second, that teachers' pedagogical work is foundational in effective literacy education programs; and third, that education policy at state and federal levels is calling for teachers' work in educating for literacy to be enhanced. Taken together, these propositions point directly to how literacy is taken to be fundamental to learning, both in and out of school, and also to civic and cultural participation, and economic competitiveness in global contexts. Further, the propositions highlight the need for all teachers to have the knowledge and capabilities necessary to enable students to meet the literacy demands they will encounter as they progress through the years of schooling. However, while there is much support for the explicit teaching and learning of literacy in schooling, and while there is a clear warrant in both educational policy and research for such teaching and learning, little is currently known about the extent, nature and quality of teacher education provision in the field of literacy. In what follows, we examine this issue and ask: how well prepared are Australian teachers to deliver quality literacy programs and to secure improved literacy outcomes for all students? To this end, we draw on the most recent national, census style study of Teachers in Australian Schools (Dempster, Sim, Beere and Logan, 2000) to investigate the explicit provision of training opportunities designed specifically to develop the teaching profession in literacy education. Our interest in training extends to both preservice and inservice opportunities, the latter including both award-based and non-award inservice. In the first section below, we begin with a background sketch of relevant contemporary education policy and initiatives and provide some information about the Teachers in Australian Schools Study (2000), the former serving to contextualise the Study. The data analyses are then presented, bringing to light marked variability in the provision of professional development in literacy. Of special interest is how the analyses provide an opening for considering the critical discontinuities that exist between current literacy education policy, research and practice; discontinuities that are potentially disabling for teachers charged with the responsibility to provide quality literacy programs. Throughout the discussion, we ask readers to consider the extent to which the findings about professional development in literacy education resonate with their individual experiences at system and local levels.
AARE 2002 CONFERENCE PAPERS
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