Understanding the Underbelly: Making Sense of Theory
When I introduce new mathematical concepts with pre-service teachers, I inevitably ask “What is the big idea?” and our exploration leads to a discussion that highlights multiple understandings about how big ideas are both perceived and articulated. As I write about understanding more about the underbelly of my thinking, I am drawn to once again ask “What is the big idea?” when discussing the role of theory when needing to articulate knowledge about my practice. With relation to a discussion about a new professionalism in education, perhaps it becomes pertinent to ask more about the nature of theory that is relevant to teacher educators and then examine the connection between teacher educator’s behaviours and their inner beliefs. In positioning teacher educators as producers of knowledge then we need to challenge traditional ideas of how knowledge is produced and disseminated (Berry, 2004b, 2007) and the foundation for this process is on the having of experience.
As a primary teacher, I rarely had recourse to reflect on theory and the ways in which theory had explicitly or implicitly influenced my teaching. I did things because I did them in much the same way as I believed things because I believed them; they just were. I did not have reason to challenge the status-quo. Teaching, for me, was a doing profession with both immediate and urgent needs and in retrospect, this belief transferred to my teacher education classrooms. In my discussion in this chapter of the role of theory, I will begin to untangle the ways in which my beliefs influenced what I thought pre-service teachers should know and understand about theory and developing knowledge, and about the ways in which articulating my own philosophy of learning began to influence my practice and beliefs as an educator.
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