It’s only words….
The IPDA International Committee had an exchange of emails recently. The term ‘Professional Development and Learning’ (PDL) was used and I responded (reacted?) by saying that I preferred ‘Professional Learning and Development’ (PLD). Although both are correct, I felt that IPDA should use one term consistently and justify its use, even if it is simply to say that while alternative terms are acceptable this one is the preferred option.
The exchange of emails that followed was interesting (well I thought it was interesting but one of the responses was that some people might tell us to ‘get a life’ which, when I’m immersed in writing or reviewing, I often think I should do!).
It’s more than semantics. We’ve seen the ways in which the term ‘management’ was used as a generic term in the 1980’s but is now clearly distinguishable from leadership. In the same way, Professional Learning is clearly distinguishable from Professional Development in the current literature (see the Editorial to Professional Development in Education, Vol 40.5 p683 for further discussion), though the order of the words is possibly a matter of emphasis (is it Teaching and Learning or Learning and Teaching?) and rhythm (PLD flows better for me).
And while we’re on the subject, I prefer ‘Continuing’ Professional Learning (and/or Development) rather than ‘Continuous’ which is used by a number of eminent authors. Continuous means unbroken; continuing means ongoing (the -ing form of the word) which is more reasonable. The Scottish term Career Long Professional Learning (CLPL) is also moving into common parlance (partly because of the amazing ability of our Scottish colleagues to promote their ideas) and I’m happy with this, even if the professional cultures required to make it work need to exist before it can work effectively, but that’s another blog.
What about Initial Teacher Training? It’s unbelievable that government agencies can still use ITT when referring to Professional Learning Partnerships. The recent report on ITE in Wales (Teaching Tomorrow’s Teachers) gives John Furlong, the report’s author, the title ‘ITT adviser for the Welsh Government’ even though the sub heading of the report refers to Initial Teacher Education in Wales. The term ITE is used throughout the report but someone obviously couldn’t change the civil servants’ obsession with outdated terms. I like the quote from Lord Young many years ago. He said that there is an important difference between education and training: if your son came home from school saying he’d had sex education that day it would be OK; if he said he’d had sex training you might be a little concerned.
So, does it matter ..? It’s only words after all …. Which terminology should IPDA use or should we switch between terms and be flexible?
Professor Ken Jones