Professional Development or Learning?

Douglas Blane asked some excellent questions of me today whilst discussing Pedagoo for a possible piece in the TESS. One in particular really got me thinking…it was something along the lines of “so, what’s the underlying idea behind Pedagoo?” It’s one of those questions which you feel you know the answer to but you struggle to articulate it succinctly. Whilst thinking of a response I was reminded of the following quotes from John Loughran in his book What Expert Teachers Do“…

Professional Development has typically been understood as the more traditional approach to in-service that teachers often experience when they are asked to implement a new curriculum or some other policy initiative. In many cases, the waves of change that regularly flow over the profession generally involve some form of up-skilling in relation to the new things that we are expected to do or to deliver. Therefore, traditional professional development is often linked to the implementation of some form of educational change by doing something to teachers, that is, telling us about the change and expecting it to then be carried out. In this way mandated changes are presented, we are trained in those changes in terms of technical requirements (sometimes as simple as re-labeling existing curriculum and practice) and then we are expected to implement those changes. It is a top-down approach and it functions in a similar way throughout the education system whether it be in the form of policy initiatives from the central education bureaucracy or at local school level from the principal’s office.

Professional learning operates in a different way. Professional learning assumes that we have some commitment to the change(s) – that the change might be driven, or developed and refined, by us. In essence, professional learning works on the bases that change is a result of work with, and/or by, teachers. Further to this, professional learning also carries an expectation that we are able to bring our expert judgement to bear on how change might best be implemented in our own context and practice. Therefore, professional learning is more about the learning that occurs through the process and how that learning is then able to be applied in our practice. Involvement in professional learning is therefore more likely to be voluntary, and the subsequent learning is personal and appropriately shaped and directed by each of us as individuals.

Loughran (2010)

I think perhaps this latter concept of professional learning as described by Loughran best describes everything we’re trying to do at Pedagoo. This includes this blog, but also #PedagooFriday, our events (#TMRetreat & #tmSLFringe12) and all our other future developments.

What do you think? How would you best encapsulate all that is Pedagoo?

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