This paper draws on the author’s 25 years of experience in teacher education and on a number of course evaluation questionnaires administered over the last three years to students in the one-year full time Graduate Diploma of Vocational Education and Training (and its predecessors) at the University of Melbourne. It is argued that the bifurcation between practice and theory (and theory and practice), between teaching and training experience and thinking about such experience within theoretical frameworks is a division that should be sequentially organised rather than concurrent as in most initial teacher education programs. It is claimed that data from the questionnaires tends to support such a position. Also, it is suggested that the Master of Training and Development, a course recently developed at the University of Melbourne, provides a useful sequential model. This course, conceived as an initial teacher education degree requires two years of workplace training experience prior to entry and does not offer a practicum as such. The arguments that conclude this paper suggest that education would be better served if the initial training of teachers were undertaken directly by workplace trainers (and in the schools sector by school personnel). More radically still, it is suggested that universities should recognise workplace training experience or teaching experience more generally (say two years experience) as equivalent to a practicum. This would leave universities to get on with what they do best – the development of philosophical, historical, ethical, sociological and psychological perspectives on teaching and learning.
Rethinking the place of the practicum in teacher education..
Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 25(1).