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Michael Eraut , University of Sussex , UK


In classical times, the Greeks developed an exceptionally broad view of knowledge,
encompassing several different words episteme, sophia, techne, phronesis, metis, each with
several shades of meaning. However, only two words, episteme and techne, have been given
serious attention by formal education. While episteme was first applied to phenomena such as
understanding and experience, it later came to be used with more specific reference to
scientific knowledge. In formal education the domain of episteme is confined to propositional
knowledge which is publicly available in books, journals and textbooks. This knowledge is
subjected to quality control by editors, peer review and public debate and given status by
incorporation into educational programmes, examination and qualifications. During the
twentieth century, universities developed into institutions whose prime purposes were the
creation of new propositional knowledge by their faculty and the transmission of both new
and old propositional knowledge to their students, thus privileging propositional knowledge
over all other forms of knowledge. Schools have followed a similar pathway with less
attention to practical knowledge for all but older students identified as low achievers in the
realm of academic knowledge.

Techne also has two complementary meanings, covering both artistry in practical activities
and technique in the sense of a developed, consistent and disseminatable method of doing
things. For students in formal education technique has tended to take precedence over artistry,
and technical knowledge has diminished status in comparison with academic knowledge.
Professional education has always included practical knowledge as well as academic
knowledge, but the relative proportions vary considerably. Occupations such as teaching have
sought to improve their status and the quality of their recruits by moving out of isolated
professional schools into the more cosmopolitan environment of universities; but in so doing
they have had to accept the priority accorded by universities to propositional knowledge.

This tendency towards technical rationality was criticised by Schn (1983) who drew
attention to professional artistry and more intuitive forms of practice. However, he preferred
to use the more secluded context of a practicum as the main arena for developing professional
expertise. These involved seminars or tutorials where professionals talked about practices in
which they engaged and concerns which arose out of their current work. This approach makes
a significant contribution to professional thoughtfulness and reflection that is very different in

kind from traditional modes of professional development; but still reinforces the view that
practice can be understood by engaging in off-the-job discussion. Whereas the typical
response of new teachers to questions about their training is that, while formal training
enabled them to gain qualifications which gives them the right to practice, learning how to
teach was largely a matter of on-the-job learning both before and after qualification. Is this
also true for teachers in mid-career?

To address this question, I need to return once more to consider the limited conceptions of
knowledge and learning which prevail in formal education. The priority accorded to
propositional knowledge can be attributed to claims for its universal truth and generalisability.
These claims may be constricted in the times and locations where they are accepted as valid,
but my concern is rather different. Even if all the propositional knowledge claimed as true
were to be accepted, it would not enable us to live our lives, conduct our business or even
teach a class of children. So how do we manage to live without enough knowledge, or do we
rely on forms of knowledge which resist codification?

An alternative approach to defining knowledge is to focus not on truth and generalisability

but on usability. Personal knowledge in general, and professional knowledge in particular, can
be defined as what people bring to practical situations which enables them to think and
perform. Such knowledge is not only acquired through learning to use publicly available
propositional knowledge and through social acculturation but also constructed from personal
experience and reflection and through social interaction. The process of learning to use public
codified knowledge acquired in one context, often formal education and training, in a very
different context of practical use, is very challenging because it requires both considerable
understanding of situations in the new context and the selection and transformation of
codified knowledge to make it suit each particular situation: this process is also likely to
involve other forms of knowledge with which it has to be integrated. This explains both the
phenomenon of the theory-practice gap, which features prominently in evaluations of
programmes of professional education and why implementation problems are so frequently
encountered in policy changes and educational innovations. Even when ideas on paper are
appreciated and understood, considerable further learning is required to use them in practical
situations; and this involves mainly learning on-the-job.

Eraut (1997) suggests that most professional work involves Four types of process:
1. Acquiring and interpreting information about clients and situations
2. Deciding how to respond to this assessment both immediately and over a
longer period

3. Implementing agreed actions, including routine techniques, referral, giving

advice, etc.
4. Meta-processes concerned with directing and controlling ones own
behaviour and ongoing monitoring of clients and their environment.

The professional knowledge acquired to engage in these processes is constructed both

consciously and unconsciously over a range of time-scales. For example, a teachers
repertoire of ways of communicating areas of subject matter to students begins when they
first studied the subject, takes on a new significance when they first become a teacher and
evolves with experience as they try out their own ideas and personal versions of ideas
gathered from colleagues, courses and books. Their selection from this repertoire on a
particular occasion will depend on their knowledge of a particular class of students and their
experience of teaching them so far. This may be partly based on consciously gathered
information from records and/or assessment, but much of this understanding of students and
classes will be based on an accumulated series of episodes and encounters; these are rich
sources of information, which at best are processed in a selective and semi-conscious way.
One learns about other people informally by being with them in a variety of situations, only
rarely from deliberate attempts to get to know them with notebook in hand. Neither formally
gathered evidence nor informally acquired cumulative understandings are infallible, but they
constitute the knowledge that enables us to act. There is considerable scope for improving the
quality of such knowledge through critical reflection, but this requires time, the appropriate
disposition and possibly also the collection of further evidence to confirm or disconfirm
opinions that could be biased. Such situational and interpersonal understandings may be
deepened by theoretical concepts and ideas, but these still need to be translated into practice
by an intricate combination of thought and action involving learning in the workplace.
Moreover, much of the knowledge gained through experience remains in tacit form: such
knowledge is used intuitively most of the time, but is difficult to reflect upon or to integrate
with more formally developed ideas.

The difficulty associated with trying to integrate different forms of knowledge becomes more
obvious when we consider decision-making, a well researched aspect of expertise. It is
helpful to start with two ideal types, intuitive and analytic decision-making, and the factors
that determine when professional decisions come closer to being intuitive or analytic.

Intuitive decision-making is often described as backing a hunch, going with the flow, or
adopting the first plausible option that comes to mind; they are made very quickly or in a
flash of insight after mulling over the problem. Although they sometimes appear random, they

are often based on a great deal of accumulated experience, and the ability to rapidly draw on
experience of previous situations is an acknowledged aspect of expertise. The more complex
or pressured the situation, the more likely that decisions will be made in an intuitive mode. Its
main weakness is lack of critical control over the decision-making process. Decisions are
more difficult to justify, and if they go wrong it is difficult to find the reason.

Analytic decision-making requires time to think, a reliable information base and a knowledge
base which organizes the decision-making domain through use of theoretical principles or
practical algorithms. Its greatest power comes when it is strongly backed by research-based
knowledge. However the strong advocacy of evidence-based practice spreading out from
medicine, probably the most researched area of professional practice, is rarely tempered by
the acknowledgement that even in medicine fewer than 20% of decisions can rely on top
quality research evidence.

In between the intuitive and analytic ideal types come decisions made in a deliberative mode.
Deliberative decisions involve conscious, critical thinking to varying degrees depending on
the time available and the extent of the relevant knowledge bases of the decision-makers. The
mental processes involved include recognizing and organizing relevant evidence and ideas,
subjecting them to critical scrutiny, integrating them into decision approaches or options; and
there is only a limited amount of formal logical processing of unquestioned evidence and
theory. Intuitive hunches play an important part, but people check them out against evidence
if they have enough time. Often implicit experientially acquired knowledge is used in
deciding whether a proposal would work or sufficiently fitted the situation. Research into
decision-making in a wide range of naturalistic settings (Klein et al 1993) has shown that the
deliberative mode is dominant though constrained by time and complexity; and that the ideal
type model of elucidating a range of options is rarely used in practice. The research supports
the critical use of experience and the importance of developing critical awareness of ones
own knowledge and decision-making practices, i.e. the development of meta-processes in
real-life activities which are not dependent on idealized models of professional work.

The action-dimension of teaching differs from that of many other professions in two
important respects: crowdedness and rapidity. In classrooms, many things are happening at
once and situations change very fast. Unless they resort to tactics which pacify students,
limit participation and suppress the student voice, teachers will be constantly engaged in hot
action situations with only a small number of opportunities to stop and think.

Much of what they do is necessarily routinised, the words come out with little
thought or effort. But they also have to make hundreds of rapid decisions in response
to unanticipated events and a rapidly changing situation (Jackson 1971). Such
decisions are best described as intuitive but they are not without some small degree of
thought. The analogy which comes to mind is that of riding a bicycle in heavy traffic.
Little thought goes into the activity of riding which is virtually automatic, but the
mind is fully engaged in monitoring traffic and responding rapidly whenever it
appears to be necessary.(Eraut 1997,p18)

Thus routinisation is essential for teachers to cope with the daily pressures of classroom life,
because it allows them to focus on monitoring and responding to the developing situation.
Fluent responsive teaching that sustains the motivation of students requires that many aspects
of practice are treated as unproblematic. But if responsiveness itself becomes routinised it
ceases to be effective; and, worse still, the more basic routines tend to become dysfunctional
over time. Students change, the environment changes, the curriculum changes, new
approaches are developed; and people take shortcuts through proven routines which diminish
their effectiveness. Dependence on routines then becomes a barrier to change, a constraint
rather than an advantage. Moreover, abandoning or even modifying a routine entails making
conscious aspects of practice which were previously unconscious, creating additional
demands on the mind, a period of disorientation and loss of confidence; it is like becoming a
novice again, but without the excuse of being a beginner. Changing hot action practice is
more difficult than changing cool action practice, and requires more support; and it can only
be achieved on-the-job, because hot action practice is developed and embedded as an
adaptation to the demanding conditions of a job where there is little time to think
deliberatively while in action. The need to deconstruct and unlearn routines and then rebuild
them helps to explain why the increasingly recognized emotional dimension is so important
for those engaged in professional and organizational development.

By their very nature rapid decision-making and routinised actions do not involve any explicit
use of theory or practical principles at the time of action. However, theories and principles
may be drawn upon in the context of reflection aimed at making sense of recent events, when
engaged in deliberative processes such as planning or problem-solving or when one is called
upon to justify what one has done or is about to do. Argyris and Schn (1974) have pointed
out that theories are not necessarily used consistently across these contexts. In particular, the
espoused theories people use to justify their plans and actions are not always consistent with
what they do. Often those theories that outsiders infer to be embedded in actions remain
implicit in the minds of the actors, partly, it is suggested, because they are less ideologically

attractive than those publicly espoused. Argyris and Schn describe seminars in which these
implicit theories are made explicit and thereby brought under the actors critical control. The
challenge to the professionals concerned is how to change their practice to bring it into closer
alignment with their espoused theories. Day (1981) tried this approach with teachers using
videorecordings of their practice and tutorial support, with significant but not total success.
Actions are rarely atheoretical, there is usually some embedded logic linking activities to their
purpose; but not all the embedded theories are drawn from the domain of codified knowledge.
Many practical principles/theories of action are developed from experience or learned through
membership of a community of practice; and even those whose provenance is easily traced
back to known publications may have been acquired second hand then personally adapted.

Another perspective on the domain of teachers knowledge is offered by the matrix presented
in Figure 1 below which incorporates both propositional knowledge and process knowledge.
The columns indicate different types of source and the rows depict different contexts of use.

Figure 1: The Domain of the Teachers Professional Knowledge

Source of Knowledge
Context of Use









Classroom Knowledge


Other Professional

The fist two columns are defined in terms of publicly available knowledge about what is
taught, i.e. curriculum content, and the principles and processes of education, i.e. theoretical
and practice-focused literature on schooling, education, teaching and learning. Societal
knowledge is partly derived from the literature but mainly acquired through participation in a

range of cultural settings; of particular significance are knowledge of cultures represented in

the student body and knowledge of local sub-cultures and contexts necessary for
understanding the interests, attitudes and daily lives of students. Situated learning accrues
from working with particular students, classes and colleagues, and comprises a mass of
episodes and events accumulated over time which contribute explicitly or implicitly to the
understanding of people and situations, decision-making, routinised actions and deliberative
processes. Though analytically distinct, knowledge from these different types of source is
integrated in its practical use, only subject matter knowledge retaining its separate identity
through its continuing presence as formal propositional knowledge in textbooks, curriculum
documents and assessment.

The upper two rows are both concerned with classroom relationships, teaching and learning
but differentiated by the context of knowledge use. The term classroom knowledge is limited
to knowledge used and created within the classroom, mainly in hot action situations.
Whereas classroom-related knowledge is used outside the classroom in a more deliberative
manner, when preparing for teaching, discussing it with others or reflecting on classroom
events. This could involve planning how to teach a particular topic and subsequent reflection
on how it went; while fleshing out such plans in action and adapting them when necessary
would involve creating classroom knowledge which might be used again on future occasions
during planning as well as in action. Spontaneous responses to students questions or written
work would also be examples of subject matter knowledge being used in the classroom
context, as well as situated knowledge of the students involved.

The lower two rows relate to professional roles other than classroom teaching. Many teachers
have management responsibilities of some kind, for which knowledge of relevant
management concepts can be helpful alongside situated knowledge of the other people
involved. Similar combinations of knowledge may be needed for pastoral roles in relation to
students and their parents. In general, most teachers knowledge will not be relevant to every
professional role. However, each new case of knowledge use will involve some
transformation of each area of knowledge being used into forms which fit the new situation,
as well as their integration with each other in ways that are similar to or different from
previous experience; and this process is usually both personal and tacit, and hence very
difficult to communicate to others. Sharing such knowledge can be beneficial, though
necessarily only partial; and strategies for doing so require careful development. Some of the
more useful approaches involve the use of mediating artefacts, such as videos of teaching,
samples of students work or learning materials.

Learning in the workplace

This section summarises my recent research on the mid-career learning of managers and
professionals in the engineering, finance and health care sectors (Eraut et al 2000). This work
raises issues for the continuing professional development (CPD) of teachers which do not
feature prominently in the provider-dominated literature. For example, we found that formally
provided CPD is responsible for only a small part of the learning reported by mid-career
professionals. Most of the learning that occurs is non-formal, neither clearly specified nor
planned in advance. It arises naturally out of the demands and challenges of work-solving
problems, improving quality and/or productivity, or coping with change and out of social
interactions in the workplace with colleagues, customers or clients. Responding to such
challenges entails both working and learning, one cannot be separated from the other. Thus
much learning at work derives its purpose and direction from the goals of the work.
Achieving the goals often requires learning, which is normally accomplished by a
combination of thinking, trying things out and talking to other people. Sometimes, however,
people recognise a need for some additional knowledge or skill that seems essential for
improving the quality of their work, expanding its range or taking on new duties. Learning
goals are identified which they pursue by a combination of self-direct learning and taking
advantage of relevant learning opportunities as and when they appear. This sometimes
involves undertaking some formal training, but almost always requires learning from
experience and from other people at work.

Long courses leading to qualifications were judged to be very effective when closely related
to the work context and prior experience of their participants; and management courses
involving small groups and projects played an important role in helping people shift their
thinking from an operational to a strategic level. Generally they were regarded by individuals
and their employers as long-term investments, but there could also be many short-term payoffs. What was less recognised was the role of ongoing and subsequent work-based learning
in facilitating and further developing knowledge acquired on courses. The returns to
employers often depend on the extent to which learning opportunities triggered by a course
are recognised and supported in the workplace.

These findings were even more true for short courses, for which the issue of timing was also
very important. Many positive examples were cited of Just-in-Time courses and coaching
and mentoring after courses; and many negative examples of courses coming too early or too
late, or wasted through lack of follow-up. Some courses, however, had other important
outcomes. They helped to establish networks, both across different parts of the same

organisation and between people doing similar work in different organisations; and, like
conferences, they provided an opportunity for people to become aware of new knowledge and
to discuss current changes and possible new developments, thus helping them to think and
plan ahead.

A significant development in some sectors had been the transformation of what had
previously been short courses of up to two weeks into distance learning packages, often
computer-based or video-based, for flexible use in a workplace learning centre. While a few
respondents welcomed this flexibility, most responded rather negatively. Packaged training
reinforced the image of a distant, uncaring employer and was generally demotivating;
whereas training courses were often positive occasions when they established contact with the
wider organisation in a range of different ways. For example networks were formed, greater
awareness of the organisation developed; and it was possible to ask questions about the
organisations work which went well beyond the specific training objectives.

In normal working groups we found three main types of learning situation: collaborative
teamwork, ongoing mutual consultation and support, and observing others in action. We
encountered several small teams of engineers with complementary skills working together on
a succession of problems. This helped people to recognise knowledge and skills which they
did not themselves possess; and knowledge of tasks and situations was broadened by
continuing contact with people who had different perspectives. Several situations were
reported which raised the question of when a group becomes a team. Two factors in particular
seemed to affect this: the advent of a crisis and the strength of the affective dimension.
Groups of individuals working in parallel with occasional consultation could become
transformed into teams when confronted with a major problem or deadline; and sometimes
this had a lasting effect as people began to recognise each other's contributions and group
identity was strengthened. Gradual development of interpersonal support which extends
beyond the workplace also contributed greatly to team feeling among certain working groups.
This is more likely to happen when the work is emotionally demanding, as for example with a
group of nurses on a ward.

When people spoke about collaborative teamwork, mutual learning tended to be assumed as
an integral aspect of it. But with other types of working group, there was more overt
discussion about learning from each other. Typically such consultations would entail a request
for quick advice, seeking another perspective on a problem, help with a technical procedure
or information on whom to ask for help on a particular issue. The way in which learning from
colleagues happens can be very different in a new activity from the way it happens in an

established one. In a start up activity, knowledge and skills are being acquired in a multitude
of ways and can flow from person to person in several directions at once. In contrast, one
person may acquire a large measure of the skills and knowledge needed directly from a
predecessor in an established activity, perhaps by means of mentoring.

Membership of special groups charged with a specific task, e.g. review, audit, preparation of a
decision or policy brief also generated significant learning, as did special assignments where
people represented their working group in an external context. Another mode of learning,
observing others in action, was frequently cited in relation to interpersonal skills.

Since much learning stems from the demands and challenges of work, the allocation of work
is one key factor affecting learning. Lack of variation and lack of challenge lower the rate of
learning, while changes in work role and/or special assignments frequently promote new
learning. Typical examples cited in our research were acting up, being on call, becoming a
mentor, joining the review or policy-making group, representing the work group and making
presentations. The initial period in a new job could be as great a stimulus as a difficult
problem or a critical incident. Indeed, for many of our respondents changes in a person's
duties and expectations about work processes or outcomes were the most important stimulus.

The most frequently cited factor was confidence: this was seen both as a major outcome of a
significant learning experience and as a critical determinant of good performance at work.
This applied to off-the-job learning, especially in mid-career, as well as to learning in the
workplace. Sometimes it derived from the achievement of a good result or the solution of a
problem, sometimes from the recognition that others were no less fallible than themselves;
usually it was fairly specific, relating to ability to execute a task or successfully perform a
role. Such job-specific confidence is believed to be a major determinant of the goals an
individual will set and their motivation to achieve those goals. Other sources of motivation
reported in our interviews were self-development through learning, changing and proving
oneself, career progression, an orientation towards outcomes for clients or the work group,
and professionalism in the sense of pride in a job well done. All these other outcomes,
however, helped to sustain confidence rather than create it. People tend to learn more in those
areas where they are already fairly confident. Learning in areas where ones confidence is low
often requires support in the form of confirming the value of the learning goals, general
facilitation and encouragement, and sensitive but honest and well-directed feedback.

Offering support to an individual, particularly at critical junctures, leads to them developing

confidence in their capabilities. Increasing confidence enables them to better manage more


challenging work which, if successfully achieved, increases confidence further. A virtuous

circle of positive development is established, in which the interactions between challenge,
support and confidence are reciprocal, each reinforcing and being conditional upon the other.




However, this triangular relationships should not be interpreted in terms of the often
recommended relationship between a worker and his or her manager. In accordance with our
recognition of the importance of learning from work colleagues and the need for a positive
learning climate in each and every work setting, challenge and support need to be seen as
distributed roles to which all members of a working group contribute; and confidence as a
characteristic of the group as a whole, as well as its individual members.

The research both emphasises the importance of the microclimate of each work setting,
recommending that it be fostered by the organisation as a whole (see next section) and
suggests what some desirable attributes of such a climate might be. These include:

A blame-free culture which provides mutual support

Learning from experiences, positive and negative, at both group and individual

Encouraging and talking about learning

Trying to make full use of the knowledge resources of its members

Locating and using relevant knowledge from outside the group

Enhancing and extending understandings and capabilities of both the group as a

whole and its individual members.

Factors working against the development of positive learning climates include the increasing
instability of working groups, many individuals lack of experience of positive working
groups, and the tendency of many groups to develop an introspective protectionism that
resists change. The situations we encountered were rarely static: a high proportion of work
contexts were in a process of rapid change, and the people in them also came and went quite
frequently. Thus a work-group typically comprises a changing set of individuals who spend
varying periods of time within it. These individuals come from and go on to other groups,


sometimes within the same organisation sometimes not. Each has a distinctive learning career
which can be traced through a sequence of work-groups: in some groups it flourishes, in
others it stagnates or regresses. This depends on how much group members learn from each
other, to what extent individuals of the whole group respond to the challenges of their work
and support each other, and what additional learning opportunities for the group are located
and developed. Typically, groups do not spend time, indeed often they strongly discourage,
finding out about the knowledge resources and networks of new members; they regard
external contacts and learning opportunities as diversions from the work of the group; and
they do not seek to learn from diversity of experience or perspective. Our analysis suggests
that a group climate for learning has to be created, sustained and recreated at regular intervals;
and this has to be a management responsibility. The learning of individuals and work-groups
has to be high on managers agendas, and managers have to be educated and supported in this

A common feature of this report of largely non-formal learning and my previous section on
teachers knowledge is that far less of the knowledge used at work is imported from outside
the school than is commonly assumed; and correspondingly more of that knowledge is created
and/or transformed during use by individuals and groups within the school itself. Hence the
principal problems to be tackled by a school which wants to become a learning organization,
a necessary prerequisite for constructive school developments, are:
1. How best to enhance learning and knowledge use by individuals and groups
throughout the organisation
2. How to make maximum use of this developed and developing expertise across
the organisation, both horizontally and vertically
3. How to assess the knowledge and learning needs of individuals and groups at
higher organisational levels, and to make provision to meet them
4. How to facilitate interpersonal networks within and across the boundaries of the
organisation that promise to enhance its learning and its knowledge base.

It would be presumptuous to suggest a universal approach to such challenging tasks, but for
me two aspects of them are particularly critical:

Raising the profile and understanding of all kinds of knowledge and learning
throughout the organisation
Making the management of learning and knowledge use a central part of every
managers job and training them for that role.


My view is that most people have considerable experience of different kinds of knowledge
use and learning, but have not recognised them as such nor discussed the implications of their
experience. Recognising and sharing such experience, then moving on to consider the
implications for their own work-groups is a natural starting point, which can be facilitated by
the gradual introduction of conceptual frameworks to help them organise that experience and
seek to extend it.

CTD purposes and their justification

Eraut (1995) argues that the purposes of Continuing Teacher Development (CTD) and School
Development derive from conceptions of a professional teacher and a professional school.
Being a professional teacher implies:

A moral commitment to serve the interests of students by reflecting on their well-being

and their progress and deciding how best it can be fostered or promoted.

A professional obligation to review periodically the nature and effectiveness of one's

practice in order to improve the quality of one's management, pedagogy and decisionmaking.

A professional obligation to continue to develop one's practical knowledge both by

personal reflection and through interaction with others.

However, the contractual relationship is between a students parent and the school, not
between a student and an individual teacher. Concepts of professionalism based on individual
teachers alone are therefore inadequate. We also need to have a concept of a professional
school. My starting point for defining a professional school is that:

It serves the interests of its students and their parents.

It strives to be both effective and efficient.

It demonstrates quality in its processes.

It recruits, nourishes and develops good staff.

It reviews, evaluates and develops its policies and practices on the basis of valid
information about their quality, impact and effect.

The development of a schools capacity to achieve these goals depends both on its ability to
conduct and manage these processes and on its teachers ability to sustain and improve them.


This leads me to suggest five purposes for CTD and school development, which can only be
achieved by a major commitment to teachers learning in their workplace.

1. Continuing development and adaptation of each teachers repertoire.

2. Teachers ongoing learning from experience, reflection and evaluation about how best to meet
the needs of students, individually and collectively.
3. Teachers ongoing learning through mutual observation and discussion with colleagues.
4. Continuing development of teachers capacity to contribute to the professional life of the
school, e.g. through policy making, internal reviews, management roles.
5. Continuing development of teachers capacity to interact with clients and stakeholders,
both as a class teacher or form tutor and on behalf of the school as a whole.

All five involve knowledge created within the school itself as part of the continuing
development of its teachers expertise. But these processes could become very limited in their
potential impact if they were not accompanied by any search for relevant knowledge outside
the school. Hence I have added five further CTD purposes, for which the acquisition of
knowledge from outside the school would be essential.

6. Continuing proficiency in relevant up-to-date, subject matter, and continuing development of

ways to make it accessible to students;
7. Ongoing collection of evidence about policies and practices in other schools;
8. Ongoing access to new educational thinking relevant to improving the quality of the school;
9. Continuing acquisition of information about changes in the schools local community in
particular and national socioeconomic change is general, both to support good
communication and as a basis for reviewing curriculum priorities.
10. Gathering intelligence about, and later implementing, the decisions of external policy
makers who have jurisdiction over the school.

Keeping professional development relevant to these ten purposes and resolving conflicts
among them must always be a major concern for those charged with promoting and managing
professional development. Research into CTD has tended to focus on three rather different
areas of concern: personal learning models linked to the concept of a reflective practitioner;
institutional development models centred around the notion of school improvement; and
curriculum implementation models associated with centrally planned change. Although the
first and last of these types ascribe the initiative to the individual and to the state or district, all
three depend for their success on the quality of school management of the professional
development process.


My analysis of the professional learning process suggests that the professional development of
reflective practitioners requires:

time set aside for deliberation and review.

self-awareness developed through collecting evidence from others on the effects of one's

opportunities for observation of alternative practice.

access to feedback and support when significant change is being attempted.

None of these can happen without the practical and psychological support of school management.

Another conclusion to be drawn is that almost any type of professional work can provide an
opportunity for professional development if there is appropriate time and stimulus for reflection.
Hence it is possible to participate in any activity with CTD in mind of there has been (1) prior
recognition of a professional development need, (2) agreement that engaging in the activity will
provide a learning opportunity which contributes to that need, and (3) commitment to the
experiential learning cycle of setting an objective, pursuing it with appropriate support, evaluating
what was learned and feedback on performance.

Similar kinds of activity may be undertaken by groups of teachers who have identified a common
need, or who gain special motivation from learning together. Both personal and group activities
need to be supported by goal-setting, discussion and feedback; while further support may include
demonstration and explanation of some practice, coaching in some process or skill, sharing
experience, providing or recommending relevant reading or videos.

This system of formalised professional development opportunities can also contribute to the
development of teachers' wider professional roles in a manner that takes appropriate account of
their diverse talents and aspirations. Sometimes such opportunities will be within the school;
sometimes they will involve external visits to other schools, members of the community, or
courses and conferences, with the express intention of adding to the school's knowledge base as
well as that of the individual teacher. The implications for school management are that they need:

to incorporate professional development into the way they deploy staff

and allocate tasks;

to develop a learning culture focussed on the needs of students;


to learn how to take advantage of professional development opportunities, and how to support
others engaged in the process;

to acquire up-to-date information about external networks and professional development


to learn how best to share and use both the current expertise of staff and knowledge acquired

to expand the repertoire of professional development ideas and be aware of good professional
development practice in other schools.

This list provides but one example of how schools need to develop their in-house expertise, in
this case expertise in professional development itself. Similar lists can be constructed for the
other processes stressed by the school improvement approach: needs assessment, policy
reviews, development planning, and so forth. One strength of the school improvement
literature lies in its recognition of the importance of whole school development; one weakness
is that is rarely addresses with sufficient evidence and understanding the development of the
expertise needed to effectively engage in school development: purposes like those listed
above are rarely articulated.

Another strength is its emphasis on priorities within school development. Trying to do too
much leads to inadequate implementation, general exhaustion, cynicism and a failure to
consolidate achievements. So there has to be a strategic plan that provides enough continuity
to develop and implement selected changes effectively, yet remains sufficiently flexible to
allow adaptation to meet newly identified needs.

While the school improvement approach emphasises the internal identification of needs as the
starting point for professional development, there are times in most countries when the external
identification of needs leads to comprehensive programmes of school reform which swamp
internal initiatives. Sometimes, a succession of single issue external directives has a similar, but
unintended, effect. Griffin (1987) noted that mandated change is rarely accompanied by
sufficient additional resources, so the system has to redirect resources to meet the new
requirements. What is rarely understood by policy makers is that change in the classroom is a
complex and lengthy process, requiring not only orientation and preparation but appropriate
support during the implementation process itself. Neither clarity of practical understanding nor
appreciation of the significance of an innovation fully develop until teachers have gained some
experience of trying it out in their own classrooms. Effective change has to include a period of
"development through use'; and research suggests that learning support should be linked to


formative evaluation, mutual sharing of experience and making consequent adjustments to plans
and activities. Although districts may be able to provide initial training and possibly some
ongoing consultancy, most of the support offered to individual teachers has to come from within
the school itself.

Our recent research at Sussex on the effectiveness of in-service education for supporting
curriculum change (Steadman et al 1995) suggests that schools need two kinds of expertise. First,
they need to be able to design CTD events that both reflect local needs and concerns and are
properly based on theories of professional learning. Second, they need a deep understanding of
the longer term process of change and the role within it of appropriate professional development
activities. This involves thinking in terms of sequences and combinations of CTD activities rather
than short one-off programmes. Sequences have to include

early intelligence gathering outside the school;

internal planning and preparation;

providing support for attempts to implement change in the classroom;

giving time for individuals and groups to reflect purposefully on their

attitudes, beliefs and practices;

allowing evaluative feedback from one event to shape the next.

Combinations of CTD experiences have to contribute towards an effective mixture of practical

know-how, understanding of curriculum issues, resocialisation of norms and attitudes, and the
ability to plan, prepare, evaluate and adjust both individually and cooperatively.

We found that this latter kind of expertise, embodying a capacity to conceptualise both
professional development and the process of mandated change, was relatively rare. Significantly,
such expertise was associated with previous experience of a school improvement approach.
Implementing mandated change requires a much higher degree of internal initiative and eventual
internal ownership than is commonly recognised.

From the perspective of the individual teacher, externally mandated change is transmitted through
the school and becomes part of the school's expectations for them. Even when they have been
involved in planning its implementation or in developing school-based initiatives, they will still
have personal needs and aspirations in addition to those of their school. Such individual needs
may arise naturally from personal review of classroom practice, from changing perceptions of the
needs of students or from changes of role and new responsibilities. There is also the desire for


personal growth and career development. When these are combined with needs arising from
schoolwide priorities, the risk of "need overload" is clearly considerable. Elsewhere, I have
recommended that three principles be observed when handling this issue:

1. Change should be managed and phased so as not to put impossible demands on a person at
any time. Teacher development also needs to be planned over a period of time to keep its
demands at a realistic level.
2. Each professional development activity has to be resourced and supported at a level that gives
it a reasonable chance of achieving its purpose. Distributing resources over too many
separate activities is likely to result in none of them being effective.
3. Negotiation should take place, preferably with each individual teacher, about the proper
balance between the school supporting that teacher's personal needs and the teacher
supporting the needs of the school. A teacher's professional development plan should
normally incorporate elements of both.

There are also, I believe, good arguments for establishing a rhythm in which the ongoing
professional development of teachers is given a special focus every 5 or 6 years, when sufficient
release time and support can be granted to change or review some major aspect of their practice.
Personally planned and supported periods of development and consolidation throughout a
teacher's career can help sustain a sense of lifelong learning, flexibility and efficacy. Such
focussing on individual development within a professional school context may be a more
effective approach to change than continuous tinkering with innovations that never quite work as



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