Teacher education as the practice of virtue ethics: Editorial

Shlomo Back, Matthew Clarke, Anne M Phelan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Recent decades have seen the elevation of education from an intermittent concern
of governments to its current place as a cornerstone of social and economic policy.
More specifically, education is now deemed vital to the simultaneous achievement
of economic growth, community cohesion and social justice (Furlong, 2013).
However, primus inter pares within this redemptive view of education has been
an instrumental discourse of the centrality of the teacher as the guarantor (or
potential under-miner) of future economic growth and prosperity (Larsen, 2010).
As a result, teacher education is now deemed too important to be left in the
hands of academics and teacher educators. Thus, the field has consequently been
subjected to an intense and extended series of authoritative reforms, underpinned
by the same competitive, instrumental and utilitarian worldview that has
transformed education more broadly (Frankham and Hiett, 2011), in order to
ensure that education fulfils its economically conceived potential. Specifically,
and justified as an attempt to ensure that teachers and schools rise to the challenges
of globalisation and come out ‘on top’ in the context of relentless international
economic competition (see, e.g. Barber and Mourshed, 2007), teacher education in
a range of global contexts, including Canada, England and Israel has undergone
radical reconfiguration and reform. As a result of these reforms, teacher
educators now find their work circumscribed within a matrix of policy
requirements, including prescribed curricula, mandated teacher professional
standards and ongoing inspection regimes. In short, teacher education has been
Corresponding author:
Matthew Clarke, School of Education, York St John University, York, UK.
Email: m.clarke@yorksj.ac.uk
Research in Education
2018, Vol. 100(1) 3–9
! The Author(s) 2018
Reprints and permissions:
DOI: 10.1177/0034523718762146
turned into technical and instrumental, rather than a moral or ethical, practice
(Biesta, 2015).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalResearch in Education
Early online date7 Mar 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2018


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