Who can you count on? The relational dimension of new-teacher learning J IM M cNAL LY
The social dimension of human development is nothing new. Even in a professional context, we accept that our relationships with other people matter. We know from experience that this is the case but the importance of the social in professional development is also well supported in the literature, often it seems from a need to strike a balance against models that are overly cognitive in emphasis. Even our small-scale initial explorations into the experience of beginners in teaching revealed the prominent place in that experience of relationships with others. Although no straightforward link to any specific kinds of learning were apparent, it was evident that interaction with others was nevertheless central and this empirical position was represented more accurately as ‘relational’ rather than as social, a term often seen as rather amorphous and unconvincing to the more clinically inclined. The relational or social conveys, it seems, a more ‘informal’ sense of learning, something that is not reducible to the strictly rational and predictable, or indeed cognitive, connecting instead to the emotions as well as the processes and stages of identity formation. This chapter presents our extended exploration of the relational, its connection to the emotions and what it means in the context of beginning teaching: the people, their roles, informal learning and what ties it to identity and purpose.