Beyond Epistemic Bubbles and Echo Chambers: Global perspectives on philosophy in teacher education

Janet Orchard, University of Bristol; Nuraan Davids, Stellenbosch University; Ruyu Hung; National Chiayi University

Where the significance of philosophy for teachers, hence the role of philosophy in teacher education have previously been discussed (e.g. Colgan and Maxwell, 2020), these have tended to operate in philosophical and geographical silos. As a first step towards addressing the current deficit, this symposium explores relationships between philosophy, teaching, and teacher education from multiple perspectives with a view to opening a comparative philosophical conversation as a first step to moving beyond established epistemic bubbles and possible echo chambers. 

As the potential for discussion is great, we have identified 2 initial starting points. One is to assess and ameliorate concepts, to better understand current thinking on underpinning notions of philosophy with and/or for teachers as well as the relationship between philosophy of education and teaching in contrasting schools of thought and geographical locations. Many dominant arguments currently developed along these lines centre Anglo-American philosophical grounding in their arguments, focusing typically on concerns with deliberating and executing of professional situated judgements, including ethical ones, enriching conceptual knowledge and understanding, other theoretically rich understandings of ‘know-how’/‘know-that’/‘knowing what to do’ which play out in classroom situations. Is this unconscious bias? Are these universal preoccupations?

We are also mindful of specific pedagogical initiatives which promote philosophy with and for teachers across contrasting teaching and teacher education settings reflected, including disagreement about how philosophy might be taught within teacher education programmes based on differing views about the relationship between practice and theory in teaching. Should the place of philosophy be positioned in terms of being either ‘implicit’ or ‘explicit’ (Orchard, 2020), focused on introducing structured knowledge of philosophy during teacher education, or seeking to embed characteristically philosophical questions and issues implicit to teaching and classrooms within a more general emphasis on ‘theorising’. But is there a gap? Perhaps this is a false division?