This paper addresses the nature of pre-service Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) teacher education and is anchored by the belief that a sense of engagement is crucial to the process of teacher (and teacher educator) development. I use the traveller's tale as a metaphor for this stance: far better for developing teachers to alight from the train, to make `unscheduled stops' and consequently, make decisions, which reflect a `growing connection' with teaching and learning, for themselves. And consider not just the `colour and vibrancy' of teaching, but the personal and institutional factors that make it so. Such moves within pre-service TESOL teacher education cannot be achieved without purpose and guidance, but it is crucial to begin to explore the realities of TESOL in schools from a perspective originating from the teacher concerned rather than take as given from a teacher educator, practicum supervisor or co-operating teacher. This is the only true sense of engagement, where new teachers make their teaching their own, as opposed to the teaching of somebody else. It may be possible to become an English as a Second Language [ESL] teacher without engagement, but it will be less certain as to what has been learned and far harder to continue development.
All developing teachers bring experience in schools, as students, to their initial studies in teaching, and so, as well as a desire to teach, prospective teachers bring with them `implicit institutional biographies' which go to form images of teachers (Britzman, 1986). These images are often narrow in scope and dissociated from a sense of self. Hence, there is an often expressed desire for `things that work' in the classroom. Underlying this desire is the belief that all a person needs in order to teach are the right tools. Consequently, teacher preparation programmes come to be seen as providers of the appropriate equipment, rather than opportunities to learn about teaching and begin the process of integration with this sense of self. Moreover, teacher preparation programmes which are based on a vocational or apprenticeship model of teacher education serve to reinforce these limited beliefs. Ultimately, both novice teacher and teacher educator view teacher development as an often short, and certainly a one-stop journey.
If such views are left unchallenged, prospective teachers receive tacit acceptance of their conceptions of teachers' work, roles and responsibilities. As a result, the path of teacher development becomes a capricious mix of prior experience, ends-in-themselves' teacher education courses, future work context (as experienced during practicum), and intuitiveness. When the question of ongoing teacher development as a function of pre-service education is addressed, however, teacher education can become not so much a case of implicit reproduction of prior and current experience, but an opportunity for developing teachers to engage thoughtfully in what it means to be an ESL teacher.
Writing at the beginning of this century, Dewey (1904) characterised two approaches to teaching:
The teacher who leaves the professional school with power ...