Social science teachers in Australia face uncertain times ahead as they look forward to changing curricula and a new emphasis on the disciplines, particularly history. In Queensland social science curriculum is in transition until the new SOSE syllabus is published in 2010. While pre-service programmes must teach knowledge of curriculum and pedagogy, it is also important to develop notions of professional identity as part of the process of teacher education. Stronach, Corbin, McNamara, Stark & Warne (2002:117) point to teachers as professionals “mobilizing a complex of occasional identities in response to shifting contexts”. Pre-service teachers are yet to establish their sense of self as teachers and their subject identity but as Chris Day (2004: 153) asserts, teacher educators must prepare novice teachers to manage change, teach in different school contexts and focus on “clarity of identity and educational purposes”. Identification within a teaching area is arguably the first step in developing a teacher identity. Yet, although subject matter is acknowledged as an important context for teachers’ practice (Stodolsky and Grossman, 1995), there is little research on how teachers construct different identities in the context of the subject-matter they teach (Drake, Spillane & Huffered-Ackles, 2001). In student feedback on a compulsory final year social science curriculum studies unit, the majority of pre-service teachers nominated at least one social science discipline as their subject identity. However, only a small number listed the SOSE curriculum area, even though SOSE is part of their brief. Further ambivalence in subject identity was noted around generalist teaching roles which did not incorporate a subject identity. Follow up interviews after field studies will seek to identify and clarify pre-service social science teachers’ complex identities, including subject identity, in the context of recent teaching experience. Attention to social science teachers’ subject identity aims to enhance beginning teachers’ sense of educational purpose, professionalism and self-efficacy in uncertain times
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