Shirley locates many of the current problems in schools within the system for training teachers. Our current model of teacher training is consistent in its capacity to produce a conformist and compliant workforce. New teachers may be skilled in the classroom. However, they lack any real theoretical knowledge that would enable them to take a critical distance from practice and have a principled understanding of education as a value. It is not enough for teachers to know what to do and how to do it. They need to know why they do what they do.
At a time when there is a distinct lack of clarity about what education is, or should be, we need teachers who are educational thinkers. We need teachers who know more than how to ‘deliver’ ‘effective’ lessons, who can rise above the perceived imperative of examination results, league tables, Ofsted inspections and a micro-managed school culture because they have principled views on education that come from theoretical and professional knowledge, and expert knowledge of their subject discipline.