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Beyond intensification towards a scholarship of practice: analysing changes in teachers' work lives

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During the last two decades teachers in many countries have found themselves facing new demands and changes. In his ‘intensification thesis' Apple made a powerful attempt to conceptualize and explain these changes: the growing economic and management oriented perspective on education leads to intensification of teachers' work, implying deskilling and deprofessionalization. This article argues for three refinements of this ‘intensification thesis'. First, the experience of intensification is not only induced by changes at the macro level, but there appear to be multiple sources for intensification. Secondly, the intensification impact does not operate in a linear and automatic way, but is mediated. Finally, the impact of intensification turns out to be different among different teachers. Thus, we argue for an alternative form of professionalization (as an answer to the growing intensification of teachers' work) through the acknowledgement of teachers' specific knowledge base as well as the need to develop it (even if this implies more work). Teachers' professional development therefore needs to go hand in hand with efforts to ‘buffer' the threat of intensification.

Keywords: Intensification; Professional development; Professional knowledge; Teachers; Working conditions

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: University of Leuven, Belgium 2: Monash University, Australia

Publication date: April 1, 2006

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