Anja Swennen

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands


Teacher Educators as Leaders Towards New Horizons in (Teacher) Education

About the Speaker

Dr. Anja Swennen is a retired teacher educator and researcher from the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The focus of her research is on the development of the identity and profession of teacher educators as well as the policy and history of teacher education.
With Dutch and international colleagues she publishes academic and professional articles and books such as Being a Teacher Educator and The Struggle for Teacher Education, both published by Routledge. She has also disseminated her research in presentations at national and international conferences. Anja is an active member of the Association of Teacher Education (ATEE) and currently the co-editor of the European Journal of Teacher Education.


More than ever, we realize the importance of teacher education as it lays the foundation for the quality of teachers in our own villages, towns, cities and countries. Major developments, such as the increasing diversity of students in our classrooms, and the urgent need to cooperate on a global level to deal with some of the major issues of our time - such as climate change, inequality and the spread of diseases – need to be addressed in education in general and also in teacher education. Education cannot on its own solve these problems, but the scientific, technological and communication challenges that lie ahead of us will undoubtably influence education and teachers and also teacher education and teacher educators. This is especially true of teacher education that focusses on fostering the learning of languages and the understanding of cultures, which will be key to the current societal transformation.

In my presentation I will not focus directly on these macro-level problems, but I will discuss the changing identities and roles of teacher education and more so of teacher educators. Supporting teachers to actively contribute to transforming educational practices requires more than the traditional preparation and professional development activities. It calls for teachers who are able to critically use the latest insights in their fields and who are passionately engaged with reflection and inquiry to improve their own practice. It also calls for teacher educators who are able to educate such teachers, be models for teachers and show what it takes to contribute to the needed transformation of education. It is not an easy task for teacher educators, but it is inspiring to explore what teacher educators want and need to fulfil their important role in the global educational world of the future.