Abstracts

Andy Hargreaves. Professor Lynch School of Education, Boston College: 
“Professional Capital in teaching. How to build it, invest in it and circulate it”

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Teaching is at a crossroads. Never before have teachers, teaching and the future of teaching had such elevated importance. There is widespread agreement that of all the factors inside the school that affect children’s learning and achievement, the most important is the quality of the teacher. Teachers really matter. More and more people care about the quality of teaching. And this is putting teachers and teaching at the forefront of change.

But people misunderstand teachers, misrepresent them and mistreat them and this is producing wrong-headed strategies to improve the quality of teaching that are driven by the interests and perspectives of short-term business capital. The business capital perspective assumes teaching is relatively easy, does not require high qualifications, can be mastered quickly, and can depend on temporary labour.

This presentation lays out a different and better vision for the future of the teaching profession based on the idea of professional capital that is a long term investment in the quality of teaching and that aligns with how top performing schools and countries treat their teachers. Instead of individual incentives, we need collective responsibility. Instead of concentrating on rewarding stars at the top and removing deadweights at the bottom, we need to be moving the majority of the profession forward to benefit all students.

Drawing on his new book on Professional Capital with Michael Fullan, Andy Hargreaves recovers and redefines what it means to teach, to be a teacher and to be valued as a high quality professional who can bring about positive outcomes for all students.


Sigrún Aðalbjarnardóttir, Professor, University of Iceland, School of Education.
“Teacher Passion and Purpose: Opportunities and Challenges in Education for Democratic Citizenship”

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Rapid societal changes, both local and global, constantly call for school development. Research with educators draws attention to the essential role teachers and principals play in the process of implementing and supporting school improvements. As teachers are the key agents of change efforts within schools, their passionate engagement is crucial.

Societal changes are widening teachers’ roles and responsibilities. Under the umbrella of democratic values, one essential challenge is promoting students’ civic awareness and engagement. The key is “Learning and Living Democracy” (European Council). The focus is on engaging students in democratic discussions and actions that will enable them to have a voice in their community.

This presentation emphasizes both the challenges and the opportunities in this context: the challenges teachers face in the future, and the support their environments can offer them as they take on this important role. At a micro level, both current and future teachers will need time and space to create meaningful learning communities where they can continuously engage in both individual and collective professional development. At the more macro level, the focus is on the role that institutions play in initial and continuing teacher education, along with teacher unions and educational policy makers. Indeed our times call for a collaboration, one in which each society can engage as a whole in reflecting on professional activities that will support effective and responsible teaching.

These are important challenges in education; we need to undertake them to benefit our youth and our societies, for both today and tomorrow, guided by democratic visions and values, aims and actions.


Pasi Sahlberg. Professor Harvard Graduate School of Education: 
“True Facts and Tales about Teachers and Teaching: A Nordic Point of View”

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International comparisons of education systems have created menus of reform options for policy-makers that often promise quick improvements in school systems that suffer from inadequate educational performance. A common call is to improve teacher education and to attract more smart and bright people to be interested in teaching in school.

This presentation argues that there are global beliefs about what teachers can and can’t do that often lead to wrong education policies and reforms. This leads to an intriguing question: What if Finland’s great teachers taught in your schools? By stating that policy-makers and reform designers need to be mindful with facts and fiction related to teachers and teaching in successful school systems the conclusion is that the image of being a schoolteacher must change from ‘individual artisan’ to ‘team sport’. Furthermore, teachers’ working conditions, professional capital and compensation must be improved before teachers can be change-makers as they are expected to be.”