A growing body of literature focuses on practice as a central aspect of teacher education. Whereas this approach emerged mainly from teacher preparation programs in specific content areas such as math, science, and literacy studies, socially related educational fields have served as a peripheral player alone. Recently, however, scholars have suggested incorporating a practice-based approach to teacher education into the social studies. In this article, we draw on complexity theory to reexamine this proposal, evaluating the connections between teaching practices and democratic citizenship. First, we introduce complexity theory. Second, we offer a critical examination of key publications discussing practice-based teacher education, using the components of complexity theory as an organizing scheme. We then highlight practice-based teacher education’s reductive aspects, leading to an argument that promoting democratic citizenship through civics teacher education should be seen as a complex endeavor where borders are blurred, interactions are nonlinear, and reality changes frequently. Finally, we offer to supplement the practice approach with aspects of teacher education that stem from complexity theory.
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- Complexity theory
- Core practices
- Democratic values
- Practice-based teacher education