UJ education expert on the importance of service learning in teacher education Professorial Inaugural address: Prof Nadine Petersen

​Who is the teacher of the future and how best do we prepare them for the profession?

According to Nadine Petersen, the Head of the Department of Childhood Education at the University of Johannesburg (UJ), teaching young children is complex and challenging and requires laying solid foundations.

Prof Petersen argued that teachers of the future will require a firm foundation built on the values of care, social justice, trust, collaboration, innovation and resilience if they are to cope in an unknown and uncertain world, when she delivered her Professorial inaugural address, A scholarship of engagement: Service learning in teacher education, in the Council Chambers, Madibeng Building, Auckland Park Kingsway Campus on Thursday, 07 June 2018.

“The incorporation of service learning in teacher education is advocated for its multiple benefits to these ideals and to the development of a ‘signature pedagogy’ for teachers,” she said.

Prof Petersen pointed out that service learning is credited for its contributions to students’ civic and moral education, for its reciprocal learning benefits, for the development of pedagogical content knowledge and to promote awareness of social justice.

“Student teachers offering service in organised activities in response to community-defined needs, connected to their academic curriculum, and with support for learning through reflection, develop specific kinds of teacher knowledge.”

She highlighted that the most important type is knowledge of care. In addition, students are also able to learn practice knowledge of teaching, socially connected teacher knowledge and integrated personal and professional reflective knowledge. Teaching for the development of care and justice however requires that teacher educators first create the conditions for students to enter ‘caring apprenticeships’ with them, and with others. The type of scholarship associated with this kind of work is referred to as a “scholarship of engagement” and is characterised by its ability to respond to the social, civic, economic, and moral problems facing society. It also contributes to the production of useable knowledge for teaching and teacher education,” she concluded.

Prof Petersen’s research interests are in teacher education for the primary school and service learning in teacher education. As a C2 rated NRF researcher, Prof Petersen leads research at UJ in primary school student teacher learning in Teaching Schools as described in the Integrated Strategic Planning Framework for Teacher Education and Development in South Africa. She is the South African research leader of an NRF-sponsored international collaborative project with the University of Helsinki and leader of an NRF-sponsored project, which investigates the role of a First Year experience educational excursion on the enculturation of students into higher education.

Read the full Professorial Inaugural address by Prof Nadine Petersen

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