Cochran-Smith 2003 Education of Teacher Educators

Cochran-Smith, M. (2003). Learning and unlearning: The education of teacher educators. Teaching and Teacher Education, 19, 5-28.


Summary:  In this article, Cochran-Smith makes the argument that inquiry as stance is not only important for K-12 teacher learning, but it is imperative for teacher educators’ learning. She states that it “offers an intellectual as well as practical perspective on the education of teacher educators – a way of learning from and about the practice of teacher education by engaging in systematic inquiry on that practice within a community of colleagues over time” (p. 8). She conceptualizes teacher educator education as an “ongoing and recursive process that depends on inquiry as a stance of the work of teacher educators” (p. 21). However, conceptualizing the education of teacher educators as inquiry with take a paradigmatic shift that perhaps includes unlearning in order to learn.

Inquiry as Stance Defined: “In our work, we offer the term inquiry as stance to describe the positions teachers and others who work together in inquiry communities take toward knowledge and its relationships to practice…Inquiry as stance is distinct from the more common notion of inquiry as time-bounded project or activity within a teacher education course or professional development workshop. Taking an inquiry stance means teachers and student teachers working within inquiry communities to generate local knowledge, envision and theorize their practice, and interpret and interrogate the theory and research of others. Fundamental to this notion is the idea that the work of inquiry communities is both social and political – that is, it involves making problematic the current arrangements of schooling; the ways knowledge is constructed, evaluated, and used; and teachers’ individual and collective roles in bringing about change (Cochran-Smith & Lytle, 1999, p. 289)’ (pp. 7-8).


The education of teacher educators is also shifting. This will require a shift in the role of the teacher educator. She suggests, “inquiry can be central to the education of teacher educators in a variety of contexts and configurations and to argue that inquiry as stance can make an important contribution to conceptualizing the ongoing education of teacher educators. I also suggest, however, that working from an inquiry stance is a complex and recursive process with built-in difficulties and contradictions as well as consequences that are sometimes unintended. I show that over time, this process involves both learning new knowledge, questions, and practices, and, at the same time, unlearning some long-held ideas, beliefs, and practices, which are often difficult to uproot” (p. 9).


In example 2, Cochran-Smith describes work she did with a group of supervisors while she worked at UPenn who collaboratively inquired into their practice as supervisors of teacher education. They ultimately shifted their role from evaluator to supporter and learner. She used the term “supervision as inquiry” which is the book chapter I proposed and was ultimately rejected for the Cuenca book Supervising Student Teachers. Interesting.


This article has great examples of inquiry-oriented questions for teacher educators who are learning the process and stance of inquiry.