Learning to Teach in Uncertainty

A Phenomenological Study of Teachers' Being, Doing an Becoming on the Rough Ground of Social Change

DurationOctober 2017 - February 2019
FundingAustrian Science Fund (FWF) Research project

This study deals with teachers, but also with teacher education in times of social upheaval. Above all, the study is interested in describing what it means for teachers to deal with increasing uncertainties in their everyday school life resulting from societal movements and changes. The study pays particular attention to current challenges in handling migration-related diversity at school. In practice, the question of how teachers recognise, allow and accept diversity, without falling into deadlocked "we" and "you" categories, often arises. It is about concepts that make new answers possible, and about perspectives that enable us to support the inevitable tension of dealing with uncertainty in a positive and productive way.

The study builds on a rich fund of interviews with teachers about their everyday work, collected over the years by teachers and students of teacher education. In taking a critical attitude towards the dominance of evidence-based and competence-based teacher education, the analysis focuses on the following key question: Which language and which vocabulary is used to speak about being a teacher, working as a teacher and becoming a teacher under the conditions of social change? It is about the terms and concepts we use when we talk about becoming a teacher and being a teacher. Terms and concepts cannot change everything, but they determine to a large extent what can be said and done – if we have the words for it – and what cannot be said and done because we cannot name what we lack.

Based on the results of the study, the project also aims at outlining a didactic concept for research-based courses in teacher education programmes and thus at contributing to university didactics also in the context of a university mass degree programme.


Author of the study