Teacher Education in France and Ireland: Traditional and Contemporary Representations
In both France and Ireland, teacher education is currently undergoing profound changes. My fascination with teacher education in both countries was prompted by my experience as a student teacher in Ireland and later in France and also my experience as head of a Professional Masters in Teaching and Learning English (MTL)1 and as a member of a strategic committee on policy (COSP) in the new graduate teacher education structure in France called ESPE.2 Seen from abroad, key elements in the traditional identity of teacher training at primary level in Ireland, from the late nineteenth century to the 1970s, are the roles of the Irish language and the Catholic Church in denominational training colleges3 whereas in France ← 235 | 236 → the teachers were trained in secular colleges.4 At post-primary level, trainee teachers in Ireland generally studied subjects such as pedagogy, sociology, psychology, and the history of education in universities as well as doing teaching practice. In both countries, there was traditionally, from the late nineteenth century to the 1970s, a sharp division between the training of primary and secondary school teachers. Primary school teachers in France were trained to be public educators whereas secondary school teachers were expected to have in-depth knowledge of their academic subject.
The well-known sociologist Margaret Archer argues that once a given form of education exists, it exerts an influence on future educational change.5 This implies that teacher education today is constrained by the traditional form initially set up in each country. This...
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