University of Oulu

Sonja Lutovac & Maria Assunção Flores (2021) ‘Those who fail should not be teachers’: Pre-service Teachers’ Understandings of Failure and Teacher Identity Development, Journal of Education for Teaching, 47:3, 379-394, DOI: 10.1080/02607476.2021.1891833

‘Those who fail should not be teachers’ : pre-service teachers’ understandings of failure and teacher identity development

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Author: Lutovac, Sonja1; Assunção Flores, Maria2
Organizations: 1Department of Educational Sciences and Teacher Education, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
2Research Centre on Child Studies, Institute of Education, University of Minho, Braga, Portugal
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.7 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Informa, 2021
Publish Date: 2021-04-23


Personal experiences and histories shape teacher identities to a great extent. In the domain of personal experience, however, little is known about how experiences of failure shape the process of becoming a teacher. Gaining this insight, however, is important as failure may define teachers and their work, which can further undermine their resilience. This study examines how 45 pre-service subject teachers make sense of failure with regards to their identity as teachers. The findings reveal various understandings of failure, from both learner and teacher perspective and pre-service teachers’ understanding that the relation between learner and teacher failure is inextricable. Failure is seen as a non-dismissible aspect in their future work as teachers. These findings suggest that experiences and resulting understandings of failure need to be acknowledged as a vital component of teacher education pedagogies in order to assist pre-service teachers in the development of their teacher identity.

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Series: Journal of education for teaching. International research and pedagogy
ISSN: 0260-7476
ISSN-E: 1360-0540
ISSN-L: 0260-7476
Volume: 47
Issue: 3
Pages: 379 - 394
DOI: 10.1080/02607476.2021.1891833
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 516 Educational sciences
Funding: This work was supported by the Academy of Finland (“Narrated failures”, decision no. 307672).
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 307672
Detailed Information: 307672 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
Copyright information: © 2021 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.