The teaching professions in the context of globalisation: A systematic literature review

In our first seminar of 2018, Tore Bernt Sorensen gave a lecture on The Teaching Profession in the context of Globalisation. It began with a discussion of his doctoral work, supervised by our co-convenor Susan Robertson when both were at the University of Bristol. The work he presented in the session is part of the ERC TeachersCareers Project, led by Xavier Dumay with a multifaceted team working across four work packages. This project analyses the political construction of European models of teacher careers, as well as how they have been applied in three national contexts. This encompasses the mobility, supply and allocation of teachers and their relationship to educational regimes, employment regimes and teacher policy across these settings.

The problem of teacher supply has been redefined in a way that ‘scales up’ from national contexts to frame problems of retention and attraction as requiring collaborative solutions. Tore’s work package has examined how ‘the teacher problem’ has been represented in Anglophone peer-reviewed academic literature on the teaching professions in the context of globalisation and Europeanisation. Such a review requires non-trivial judgements made in order to define boundaries, highlighting how starting assumptions shape the choices made about what to include. This has involved mapping and discussing patterns in the literature and findings, rather than merely aggregating the results presented in the research literature. In this sense a systematic review of the literature is a different undertaking to a literature review.

Identifying dimensions has been a key part of this approach. In this case there were four: social, work, political and scalar. These were used to discern the relevance of literature, filtering the original pool and identifying pieces as saying something about one of these cross cutting themes. This helped identify three strands of literature: a teaching and learning-centric literature, a neo-institutionalist literature and a critical literature. Hearing Tore’s account of this process offered an illuminating insight into the process of systematic review, as well as shedding light on how the complexity of the ‘teacher problem’ has been constructed through its articulation in the scholarly literature.