How should we best prepare people to become teachers?
The Teacher Education Ministerial Advisory Group is currently looking at this very question, and you are invited to have your say.
Personally, I found most of my own undergraduate degree a complete waste of time and money. I left university thinking I knew everything only to hit the workplace and find I knew very little at all. The so-called wisdom imparted to me was nothing but lofty theories. This caused two problems. The theory they peddled was not:
- The practical know-how I needed as a beginning teacher.
- Backed by hard research on what actually helps kids to do well at school.
My ‘pracs’ were far more useful. I saw some impressive teachers in action and got to try out my ideas with real children. Yet, my focus was on getting the highest mark from my supervising teacher because that mark was one of three key factors my future employer would look at when offering jobs (and in those days teaching jobs were hard to get). This meant I didn’t experiment much, didn’t voice my true opinions and didn’t open myself to learn from my mistakes (I was too busy hiding them).
Therefore, it came as no surprise when I discovered that research shows initial teacher education has virtually no impact on how well teachers’ students subsequently do in school1. Nor did it come as a surprise that one of the leading theories being pushed when I was a university (whole language) has even less impact.
Improving the quality of teacher education is crucial. Those charged with shaping the minds of teachers-in-waiting have a responsibility to put their personal philosophies aside and to make sure that their advice is grounded in hard evidence about what works best.
That’s my opinion. You can have your own say. The Teacher Education Ministerial Advisory Group is now accepting public submissions until 15 June 2014.
For further information, visit the Teacher Education Ministerial Advisory Group website.
- Hattie, J. (2009). Visible Learning: A Synthesis of Over 800 Meta-Analyses On Student Achievement. [↩]