Birth, Death and Survival: an Arendtian analysis of pre-service teacher identity on the PGCE route
Date: 20 May 2019
University of Exeter
Doctor of Education in Education
This research focuses on the identity development of pre-service teachers on a one-year, university-based teacher education route (PGCE) in England. In the English education system, concerns have been raised about many aspects impacting pre-service teachers during their PGCE and beyond: a neoliberal, market-driven education system; ...
This research focuses on the identity development of pre-service teachers on a one-year, university-based teacher education route (PGCE) in England. In the English education system, concerns have been raised about many aspects impacting pre-service teachers during their PGCE and beyond: a neoliberal, market-driven education system; high levels of performativity and accountability within the teaching profession, and the lack of attention to the process of identity formation within teacher education. This study is significant in that it provides a rationale for pre-service teacher identity formation to be considered in its own right. By bringing an Arendtian framework to the research, it offers pre-service teachers an opportunity to think about themselves, and the influences that act upon their professional identity, in a new way. As a result of this research, it is intended that pre-service teachers will be better able to deal with the challenges that face them as beginning teachers, and that teacher education will embed identity development as an evolving process in their programmes. This study is situated within a theoretically enriched empirical approach. The methodology was driven using Arendtian theory, specifically the use of Arendt’s ‘conditions’ related to the concepts of birth, death, survival, worldliness, plurality and self-development. This qualitative research gathered data from three PGCE pre-service teachers as they ‘became’ teachers. Over the period of their PGCE year, this included an online introductory life story to gather insights into their awareness of a teacher identity, a face-to-face semi-structured interview to explore pre-service teachers’ awareness of their developing teacher identity, and a critical incident interview, reflecting on the key episodes that impacted on how they viewed themselves as teachers. The data was analysed using Arendt’s ‘conditions’, and presented as the story of three pre-service teachers. The outcomes of this study are that pre-service teachers felt that the research methodology allowed them to become more aware of, and interrogate, their identity; the Arendtian framework was an ‘identifier’ that denoted the depth of emotion, the impact of events faced during their teaching experience, and how they successfully resolved these issues. Arendt’s ‘conditions’ were interpreted slightly differently by each pre-service teacher but, combined with the critical incident timeline, acted as a driver for an emergent, dialogical and relational approach to pre-service teacher identity.
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