Student demands and thematic learning at the University College of Education in Iceland in 1978

In the second half of the twentieth century teacher training in many Western countries was upgraded from secondary school to university level, sometimes through mergers. In 1971 teacher training at the Iceland College of Education, established in 1907, was upgraded by law to university level. For a few years the new University College of Education had a hybrid function serving students enrolled both at secondary and tertiary levels. The purpose of this study and ► article by Gunnar Börkur Jónasson, Allyson Macdonald and Guðrún Kristinsdóttir was to analyse forces affecting teacher education around the time of the upgrading. The response of the administration when the university level programme did not meet the expectations of some students and teachers is examined. So too is why and how the introduction in 1978 of the socalled ‘thematic approach’ (í. þemanám) accounted for some of the factors affecting the teacher education programme, including the questions of theory and practice and the status of education as a field of study in academia. The study is based on documentary analysis of published and unpublished material and data from interviews taken in 2002 and 2003 with ten key informants who had participated in most of the changes being studied. Much was unsettled during the first years after the upgrading to university level and especially after the grammar school function was finally phased out in 1977. Most of the staff had to teach at both levels, and those appointed to academic positions were also expected to carry out research. Enrolment in B.Ed. studies was low to begin with so the experience of providing university-level teacher education was slow to develop, and students became restless. The establishment of the School Research Division (SRD) in 1966 and the law on compulsory education from 1974 influenced developments in teacher education, although the University College of Education functioned independently of the SRD and the law in 1974 did not address teacher education. ► See article.