Personal to Global: Levels of Consideration

Yvonne Bain and Donald Gray

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Setting the scene (contextualisations and relevance)

When considering the professional development needs of teacher educators it can be argued that it is important to start from the actual practices of the teacher educator. The practices of the teacher educator will be formed from their own values and beliefs about teacher education which will manifest itself in that individual’s actions and behaviours in practice (Vanassche & Kelchtermans, 2014). Thus, in order to understand the professional practices of teacher educators it is important to have some insight into their knowledge, beliefs, skills and attitudes. However, teacher educators’ own professional attributes have to also be understood within the particular context that they are working, whether that is in a school or higher education context. Within that context the relationships that teacher educators form, with other teacher educators, students, pupils, mentees etc. plays an important part in the development of their professional identity and the formation of their values, beliefs and practices. So, teacher educators‘ professionalism has to be recognised as personal, but also relational and contextualised within the particular structural (e.g., the available resources, organizational structure, student teacher population) and cultural situations that they are working in (Vanassche & Kelchtermans, 2014).

While personal attributes and institutional contexts might be seen as the first two levels contributing to teacher educator’s professional development, it has to also be recognised that the institutional context is embedded in and will be moulded and influenced by policy and other aspects operating at a national and international level. This means, as Loughran (2014) reminds us, that teacher educators need to “have a vision for their professional development that affords them agency in the active development of their scholarship” (Loughran, 2014, p 280).

We are living in a globalized world and such a world impacts on education in many ways. The term itself, however, is contested and can have a number of different interpretations ranging from a more technologically networked planet to enabling widespread exchange of knowledge and unprecedented mobility of students and academics with, as Altbach (2013) suggests “the global spread of common ideas about science and scholarship, the role of English as the main international language of science, and other developments” (p. 7). However, such globalization with the dominance of western ideas and English language is also strongly condemned by others as it can result in the hegemonic spread of western ideology and culture at the expense of other perspectives, languages and knowledge and, as such, presents a threat to the world’s cultural, linguistic and biocultural diversity (UNEP, 2001). The term globalization, used in economic terms, refer to the spread of neo-liberal ideas throughout the world. Such globalization impacts on education with the “economization of education” (Spring, 2014) by which is meant “ the increasing influence of economists on educational research and judging school outcomes in economic terms” (p.xii). Globalization also refers to the scale of developments and the impacts that such global level processes have on social and environmental arenas. Such developments have led to the suggestion that we are now living in a new geological era, the Anthropocene, characterised by the human impact on the planet (Gray & Colucci-gray, 2014).

It is important, therefore, to recognise that globalization, while it refers to global level developments, processes and actions, has impact at the local level and, as such these influences need to be understood within a local context and explored to examine the implications for both teachers’ and teacher educators’ professional learning.


The relevance for teacher educators

Institutional and national contexts will shape the expectations for teacher education and this, in turn will shape the perceptions and practices of teacher educators. Some countries will have bodies which oversee and produce “standards” for teacher qualifications and accredit teacher education programmes, whilst others will have less stringent certification programmes. So, while there are many similarities in teacher education preparation programmes around the world, there are also a number of variations (Wang, Coleman, Coley, & Phelps, 2003). These variations will form the national context, which in turn shapes the values and expectations of teachers and teacher educators. However, while there are variations in national contexts it must also be recognised that there are significant effects of globalisation which, in turn influences and shapes policy at national levels (Gray, 2010; European Commission, 2015). Ozga (2005) refers to these as “travelling policies” and, while she argues that there are global pressures for a modernization of the education workforce she suggests that “these ‘travelling’ policies are mediated by the ‘embedded’ practices and cultures of different systems to produce particular ‘local’ versions of policy“ (p207).

So we see that the attributes of teacher educators is shaped by many, often competing, influences each embedded within and interacting with the others. Understanding these and how they impact on personal beliefs and practices is important in informing teacher educators’ professional development.


Main questions

  • What opportunities do teacher educators have to explore the practices of teacher education development in other contexts, nationally and internationally?
  • How do teacher educators become familiar with the nationally and international policy drivers for teacher education?
  • In what ways do teacher educators own philosophies and perspectives around developing as a teacher educator, and enabling the development of teachers, align with national and international perspectives?



Altbach, P. (2013). Globalization and forces for change in higher education. In P. Altbach (Ed.), The International Imperative in Higher Education. Global Perspectives on Higher Education (pp. 7-10). Rotterdam / Boston / Taipei: Sense Publishers.

European Commission (2015). Strengthening Teaching in Europe: New Evidence from Teachers Compiled by Eurydice and CRELL, June 2015.

Gray, D. (2010). International perspectives on research in initial teacher education and some emerging issues. Journal of Education for Teaching, 36(4), 345–351.

Gray, D., & Colucci-gray, L. (2014). Globalisation and the Anthropocene : The Reconfiguration of Science Education for a Sustainable Future. Sisyphus, 2(3), 14–31.

Loughran, J, (2014). Professionally Developing a Teacher Educator. Journal of Teacher Education, 65(4), 10-20.

Ozga, J. (2005). Modernizing the education workforce: a perspective from Scotland. Educational Review, 57(2), 207–219.

Spring, J. (2014). Globalization of Education : an Introduction. 2nd edition. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.

Vanassche, E., & Kelchtermans, G. (2014). Teacher educators’ professionalism in practice: Positioning theory and personal interpretative framework. Teaching and Teacher Education, 44, 117–127.

Wang, A. H., Coleman, A. B., Coley, R. J., & Phelps, R. P. (2003). Preparing Teachers Around the World. Princeton NJ.


Key words: Globalization; policy; professional learning; teacher educators.

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