Theories of Professional Learning

A Critical Guide for Teacher Educators

By (author) Carey Philpott Series edited by Ian Menter

Ebook (VitalSource) - £20.39

Publication date:

04 November 2014

Length of book:

96 pages


Critical Publishing

ISBN-13: 9781909682351

An essential guide to a number of important theories of professional learning, of particular value both to those taking on new responsibilities in relation to initial teacher education (ITE) and those interested in developing new ways of working in partnership.  Each chapter provides a concise and critical overview of a key theory and then considers how it might impact on the processes and organisation of teacher education, drawing on key pieces of literature throughout. The book responds to the growth of interest and research in professional and work-based learning including ideas such as communities of practice, activity theory and socio-cultural theory alongside already established models such as those of Schön, Eraut and Shulman. In addition changing models of teacher education mean there are new ways of understanding professional learning as practices, roles and identities are re-established.

Educating beginner teachers is hard! This is not a statement that will come as a shock to any teacher educator but Carey Philpott’s book on theories of professional learning helps us to understand just why it is so difficult.


This review of some of the seminal literature on practices and thinking in teacher education gives a whirlwind tour of key theories - exploring their applications and limitations with a fair and balanced approach. Given so many competing theories, each with their own criticisms, it is no wonder that the world of teacher education feels like a murky, dark-art at times.   

Many of Philpott’s conclusions are to be welcomed ... that teacher educators and mentors in schools should receive more time, training and recognition; that trainee teachers ought not to be ‘dumped in the deep end’ too soon and that immersion in day-to-day practice is key to success, among others.  Interestingly, his final chapter on craft and apprenticeship models of teaching may become a pivotal one as we enter this first year of the newly developed postgraduate teaching apprenticeship. 

As a literature review, the book does not seek to explore what each of the theories might look like in practice and as such, this may not be the book for you if you are designing (or rethinking) your ITE curriculum and are in search of practical advice on approaches and pedagogies to take. If, however, you are seeking to undertake your own research into best practice in teacher education, you wouldn’t go far wrong by perusing this book as an introduction to key theories.