The intertwining of knowledge and politics: the politics of teachers’ in-service training

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This report (Szabó et al. 2010) examines the Hungarian in-service teacher training system as a knowledge-based regulatory tool. The main investigational questions were the following: What was the interest, worth and view of the actors who have established the teacher-training system as an instrument? Which type of knowledge appeared during the making process of the instrument? How do the national central government and EU’s expectations meet?

We began our analysis by scrutinizing the types of knowledge and knowledge holders associated with the in-service teacher training system. We also reviewed the approach of post-bureaucratic regulations and multilevel governance for context. Then, we discussed the context and the history of the in-service teacher training system in Hungary from 1996 to 2010. Here we focused on what we considered the two pillars of the system: the autonomy of schools and the accreditation process. The system, built on a decentralized market and compulsory accreditation process, was constructed to ensure quality. The core principle of the system was that schools could choose from the available supply of trainings, based on their individual needs. Finally, we discussed how the system diverged from its original goals.

Following this, we examined the influence that the alternative reform pedagogy knowledge had on the recently developed state-provided trainings. The actors who possessed this knowledge played a major role in the process of establishing and developing the in-service teacher training system within the framework of European Union funded projects.

The European Union’s approach to life-long learning was translated into the national context based on the studied regulation tool. It was essential to improve the pedagogical-methodological practice in order to assess the supranational objectives.

With regard to the position of the in-service teacher training system in the Human Resources Development Program (HDROP) funded by the EU, we analyzed how political considerations reflected the separation that occurred between the knowledge and interest of training implementers and developers. We focused on the different levels of governance and the way they interconnected through the actors and their knowledge. Pedagogical expertise was central to the development of the program, yet several specific pieces of knowledge (important in terms of management and strategic issues) were identified as missing.

During the second wave of programs financed by the EU structural funds, a wider range of schools were involved. The role of the central governance was limited to the coordination of the process. Through selected tender criteria, it indirectly influenced the kind of knowledge which market firms provide schools.

Finally, we present mini case-studies looking more closely at the achievements of two of the most popular trainings. Here we focused on the reception of the trainings by the participant teachers and how they envisioned the implementation of the knowledge they received there.

TÓTH Katalin & SZABÓ Veronika (2010), The Intertwining of Knowledge and Politics in the Policy Connected to Teachers’ In-service Training, KNOWandPOL report.

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