Continuing education is a strange, highly contested field. And when you talk about the continuing education of educators, it seems almost to be a contradiction in terms. After all, isn’t education supposed to be about creating learners? Doesn’t a good education stimulate a person to become reflective, open-minded, and curious? In a sense, living is about being continually educated. But maybe this is just an idealistic view and in reality, our education system turns us into un-learners and we need, periodically, to be prompted to open those closed windows to the mind and let new ideas in – and that can be done only through the process of “continuing education”. I might be accused of taking an extremely cynical view, but sometimes it seems as though the project of continuing education is a conspiracy between the education establishment (schools, colleges, universities) and the market (publishers, training institutes, consultants) to ensure that there continues to be an education shortfall that can be made up through workshops and refresher courses! Don’t get me wrong, if continuing education is supposed to fulfill its true objective – of keeping professionals updated about new developments in the field, and to introduce new materials and curricular directions – it is completely justified. Workshops can also re-energise us by simply giving us the opportunity to reflect and share with others in similar or across different contexts. But do all workshops really do this? Or do they only offer the proverbial old wine (which we should have consumed in our degree and diploma programmes) in new bottles (with some bells and whistles added)?
This issue of Teacher Plus explores the phenomenon of continuing education through the frame of in-service workshops. What sorts of workshops really work? What should a school be looking for when they commission an external expert to deliver a workshop? How can pre-service teachers be engaged through the workshop mode? We offer a range of perspectives, from one that suggests a way that teacher communities can become their own trainers, to another that offers tips on how to get the most out of a workshop.
It’s also a question that we would like to open up to all our readers. What does it mean to be an educator who can continue to learn, who keeps her mind open to the possibility of new ideas, new ways of doing things? In a way, that is what Teacher Plus attempts to do – to be a space for “continuing learning”!