The ongoing demographic growth of Luxembourg and the increasing heterogeneity of its population raise considerable educational challenges, especially concerning the management of linguistic/cultural diversity within educational contexts. With more than 45 % of students coming from abroad, teachers struggle to combine the students’ specific demands and diverse cultural resources with curricular requirements. Too often, the students’ heterogeneous backgrounds clash with a normative, teacher-centered instruction relying on prescriptive learning tasks, letting a quarter of a student intake falling behind after the first four years of fundamental school (MENFP, 2011). The professional know-how to develop culture-sensitive pedagogical practices calls for extended expertise about learning processes and reaches far beyond the range of didactical teaching skills. It embodies skills for reflective practice, on-the-job research, and continuous educational reform. Research on teacher professionalization (Hargreaves, 2000; Cochran-Smith & Lytle, 2009) further states that teachers should operate in an investigative or problem-solving stance and found their professional decisions on research-driven, evidence-based argumentations. With respect to these societal, professional and scientific challenges, the University of Luxembourg launched an innovative ITE program in 2005. It is governed by an overall ‘learning-how-to-learn’ approach and aims to train teachers as ‘experts on learning’ (Max, 2010, 2011). This paradigm underpins all the training practices, which strive to interconnect research-driven fieldwork on children’s and students’ learning with academic concerns of knowledge building across conventional boundaries. Starting first semester, participative internships and practitioner-oriented research create meaningful interactions between school interventions and academic work and stimulate the enactment of theory and vice versa. This paper investigates the potential of cultural-historical activity theory and dialectic learning approaches (Engeström & Sannino, 2010) for co-configuring expansive and context-sensitive study practices within (and beyond) the academic context, or for “creating new systems of human social-practical activities” (Yamazumi, 2005, p.14). The dialectical relationship between social acting and cultural appropriation works as a ‘germ cell’ for developing the study culture itself. On the one hand, the ITE program is understood as an activity that comes into existence as it is jointly completed between subjects and artefacts in interaction. On the other hand, the goal-directed acting of participants cannot be understood separately from the system(s) in which they are engaged. Their multiple voices, views and positionings of “how to train teachers” meet or/and collide. They transform the object of the program into a moving, multi-faceted and action-generating target. Drawing on these internal contradictions, a shared object on ITE has to be constructed through processes of dialogical interaction and meaning making in response (1) to fundamental societal and political requests on a general historical-political level and (2) to epistemological and methodological beliefs of various actors on a local genetic-developmental level. The paper explores these complex dynamics around the deployment of the program. By drawing on qualitative data gathered from various participant groups, it depicts zones of emerging contradictions and proximal development. The study’ outcomes inform us about obstacles and opportunities to transform academic cultures in ITE.
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