What is the age-old theory/practice divide really about? Can one exist without the other? Are there ways that we can integrate theory and practice in sophisticated and yet practical ways in teacher education?
Teachers are often over-worked, over-burdened with managerial tasks (especially in today’s age of Accountability), and very tired at the end of the day after being with a room full of students. This doesn’t create the most optimal condition, perhaps, for critical reflection and deep thinking about how theory informed their practice throughout the day. However, every teacher is working across her day informed by theory. Perhaps a question we could ask is whether or not she has had access to readings, discussions, and/or activities throughout her education that do at least three things: 1) recognize and engage personal and scholarly theories of the world/societal structures 2) engage theories of learning, and 3) recognize and engage in theory-building through teacher research. Perhaps if some – or all three – of these kinds of experiences are in place, teachers might begin to question and critique the “theory/practice divide” as something that positions them on the consuming end of knowledge and information rather than as producers of knowledge and – dare I say it – theory.
I know far too many deeply engaged, intellectual teachers working with young children to be speaking of this myself. I would love to hear from some readers:
-How do you read the theory/practice divide?
-What have you found helpful in your own education (either formal or informal)?
-Who benefits from the theory/practice divide?
-Who is disadvantaged in the ongoing presentation of this divide?
-What are teacher educators, professional developers, and researchers to do?
-What are teachers, principals, families, and students to do?
-Who are the other players in this theory/research divide?