Transforming Teacher Education Thinking: Complexity and Relational Ways of Knowing


  • Katherine Jane Sanford University of Victoria
  • Timothy Frank Hopper University of Victoria
  • Lisa Starr McGill University



In order that teacher education programs can act as significant scaffolds in supporting new teachers to become informed, creative and innovative members of a highly complex and valuable profession, we need to re-imagine ways in which teacher education programs operate. We need to re-imagine how courses are conceptualized and connected, how learning is shared and how knowledge, not just “professional”, but embedded knowledge in authentic contexts of teaching and learning is understood, shaped and re-applied. Drawing on our study of a locally developed program in secondary teacher education called Transformative University of Victoria (TRUVIC), we offer a relational approach to knowing as an alternative to more mechanistic explanations that limit teacher growth and development. To ground our interpretation, we draw on complexity theory as a theory of change and emergence that supports learning as distributed, relational, adaptive and emerging.

Author Biographies

Katherine Jane Sanford, University of Victoria

Kathy Sanford is the Associate Dean Teacher Education in the Faculty of Education at the University of Victoria. She is currently the past president of the Canadian Society for the Study of Education (CSSE). Her research interests include gender and literacy, alternative literacies, popular culture, and teacher education. She is currently working on one funded research project (CCL) entitled Literacy Learning through Video Games, and has two funded SSHRC projects, involving Gender and Literacy Learning through Videogames, and E-Portfolios in teacher education for individual and programmatic development.

Timothy Frank Hopper, University of Victoria

Dr. Tim Hopper is an associate professor in the School of EPHE, Faculty of Education. He received his Masters and PhD from the University of Alberta. Dr. Hopper’s scholarly work focuses on teacher education in physical education. His research explores the use of complexity thinking as a theoretical frame. He is currently involved in two SSHRC funded research grants entitled (1) Electronic-portfolio development in three professional programs, and (2) Youth Civic Engagement: Real Life Learning through Virtual Games Environments. Dr. Hopper has taught at all levels of the school curriculum both in Canada and the UK. Tim maintains strong links with local schools through a teacher education approach known as school integrated teacher education (SITE).

Lisa Starr, McGill University

Dr. Starr is a former secondary school teacher who has worked in lots of interesting places around the world, including Pakistan, Kuwait and Mongolia. This has contributed to her interest in issues around identity and culture-- important aspects of becoming a teacher. We welcome her insights and her presence among us.






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