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Theorising the third space of professional experience partnerships
chapterposted on 27.07.2018, 00:00 by R Forgasz, J Williams, D Heck, Angelina AmbrosettiAngelina Ambrosetti, L-D Willis
Across the international research literature, references to the problematic ‘theory-practice gap’ in initial teacher education abound. Essentially, this refers to the dialectical positioning of university-based learning about teaching as abstracted theory in opposition to situated school-based learning about teaching through practice. This perceived theory-practice gap is exacerbated by the fact that the distinction between university-based and school-based learning is not only figurative but also literal, resulting in confusion amongst preservice teachers who often perceive an irreconcilable tension between the theories learned at the university and the practices observed during their professional experience in schools. Policy reform and popular debate around this persistent problem tend to focus attention on rebalancing the ratios of theoretical and practical learning in initial teacher education. But recent scholarship on the subject offers a new paradigm in which theory meets practice and in which university- and school-based learning come together in a third space of mutuality, hybridity and collaboration. Popularised by Ken Zeichner, third space theory is gathering momentum as a framework for closing the theory-practice gap in initial teacher education, especially as it plays out in the professional experience component. Third space theory is being variously applied across contexts to (re)frame school-university partnerships and the role and position of various stakeholders within them.