Drawing together Smagorinsky's extensive research over a 20-year period, Learning to Teach English and the Language Arts explores how beginning teachers' pedagogical concepts are shaped by a variety of influences. Challenging popular thinking about the binary roles of teacher education programs and school-based experiences in the process of learning to teach, Smagorinsky illustrates, through case studies in the disciplines of English and the Language Arts, that teacher education programs and classroom/school contexts are not discrete contexts for learning about teaching, nor are each of these contexts unified in the messages they offer about teaching. He explores the tensions, not only between these contexts and others, but within them to illustrate the social, cultural, contextual, political and historical complexity of learning to teach. Smagorinsky revisits familiar theoretical understandings, including Vygotsky's concept development and Lortie's apprenticeship of observation, to consider their implications for teachers today and to examine what teacher candidates learn during their teacher education experiences and how that learning shapes their development as teachers.
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