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Site-based teacher education for enhanced community knowledge and culture: creating the conditions for ‘philosophical project knowledge’

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Speaking the word is not a true act if it is not at the same time associated with the right of self-expression and world-expression, of creating and re-creating, of deciding and choosing and ultimately participating in society’s historical process. (Paulo Freire 1972b, p. 30).


Teacher education is in a state of uncertainty around the world including the more wealthy and less wealthy countries. If it is generally accepted that teacher education can make a difference in the educational lives of all students regardless of cultural and educational background, then how exactly to arrange the detail of schooling is not. Under particular circumstances, schooling that is primarily concerned with reproducing the values and practices of the market economy and privileged minority, suggests that most likely teacher education will submit to economic power and not make a difference. Schooling of this type participates in the rearticulation and sometimes further penetration of social hegemonic practice. On the other hand, if schooling within the dominate economy and values sets about establishing the conditions whereby the majority of students are encouraged to investigate significant knowledge, social constructs and cultural scaffolds critically, imaginatively and independently then teacher education structured in the same way can make a difference, contributing to authentic community building and social change. Drawing inspiration from the work of Paulo Freire, this paper describes the efforts of teacher education in Australia grappling with these tensions and contradictions within the constraints of university and school requirements, as well as a strongly neoliberal economy. It briefly outlines a history of partnership-based and practice-based pre-service teacher education that has generated support for on-site approaches of various types. Moving beyond Pedagogical Content Knowledge, the paper explores the conditions for a new concept of philosophical project knowledge that theorises teacher education as learning through social action and partnerships between communities, schools and universities. In this way, education is seen as a democratic right and a process of liberation for all citizens especially those marginalised and excluded within a market economy.

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Correspondence to N. Hooley.

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Arnold, J., Edwards, T., Hooley, N. et al. Site-based teacher education for enhanced community knowledge and culture: creating the conditions for ‘philosophical project knowledge’. Aust. Educ. Res. 40, 61–75 (2013).

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