Gift and transmission in teachers’ lifelong learning: what remains of those who leave
This article analyses the activity of those involved in teacher training. Learning effective techniques for action is at the heart of the process of becoming a teacher, which contributes to the general conception of lifelong learning as the transmission/construction of utilitarian knowledge. We hypothesised that this situation has other dimensions that are often unnoticed on a daily basis, only to become visible once we look for events belonging to longer time-scales. The focus on utility places value on knowledge that has immediate and visible application; yet, some meaningful facts or events cannot be explained solely in these terms, including in such fields as teacher training, which provide unfavourable ground for our hypothesis. These dimensions are analysed here using a theoretical framework incorporating gift theory and the life course of professional practice. The corpus was compiled from self-confrontation interviews with 12 individuals who had given or responded to speeches during four retirement ceremonies in two teacher training institutes of southern France. The analysis shows that these ceremonies reflect organising rituals and contribute to the anti-utilitarian dimension of lifelong learning that is both collective and individual, based on gift cycles, and related to long time-scales of activity. It reverses the traditional idea of teacher training as utilitarian knowledge transmitted by older to younger teachers in favour of lifelong learning by cycles of gift giving. Last, this study opens a research perspective in fields other than teacher training and points towards how applications can be defined according to the results.
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