To challenge or not to challenge: the mentor's dilemma

Burgess, Hilary and Butcher, John (1999). To challenge or not to challenge: the mentor's dilemma. Mentoring & Tutoring: Partnership in Learning, 6(3) pp. 31–47.



This paper focuses upon open and distance learning initial teacher education in both primary and secondary sectors and explores the ways in which mentors challenge PGCE students in their professional thinking and classroom practice. It draws upon ethnographic research on mentors and student teachers during one presentation of the course. The data are based on observations of mentors working with students on final student placement, conversations with specialist subject mentor trainers as well as questionnaire and other source material. An analysis of how mentors articulate their knowledge base; the dialogue between mentor and student and the challenge of moving from novice to expert for the student teacher are all considered. Our conclusions have implications for all ITT and will also be a source of valuable practical help for student teachers and mentors.

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