New teachers look back on their university education: Prepared for teaching, but not for life in the classroom

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16 Citations (Scopus)


Starting from current views on pre-service teacher education, this article presents the findings of an inquiry into new teachers' perceptions of their university education. The authors argue for a specific view of pre-service teacher education, in which students are given the opportunity to seriously study the content of the subjects they will be teaching, while learning some skills to deliver the school curriculum and to begin to understand, and deal with, learners' sociological and psychological dispositions. They also argue that the expectation that universities should prepare teachers fully for practice is not feasible, as the school itself as a place of work is the optimal setting for getting to know - in an authentic and non-trivialising way - the hardships and challenges of what constitutes teaching in a country like South Africa. The findings of the study show that teachers are confident about their preparation in content knowledge. They are also comfortable with some aspects of pedagogy, but they do not think they are prepared for the tough social world of teaching or for its logistics. It was also found that teachers who do not teach learners in the age groups for which their programmes had prepared them, struggle far more than others.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S123-S142
JournalEducation as Change
Issue numberSUPPL. 1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2011


  • Classroom reality
  • novice teachers
  • pre-service teacher education
  • school logistics
  • subject knowledge
  • theory-practice divide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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