I'm concerned about education in this country.
Does that sound extremely cliched? Possibly I ought to adjust my statement. I'm thinking about the education of teachers in this country.
Around seven years back, I completed a Master of Arts in Teaching program in which i learned nothing at all. My evening classes were uniformly taught by older individuals (largely males, they all White) and the three hour sessions overwhelmingly contains one teaching method: lecture.
Imagine, if you will, a high school art class where the teacher lectures on strategy, but the students never lift a paintbrush. Or a science class that learns about chemical reactions, but never completes a science lab. That was my education program. I sailed through the program with out read a single "required" textbook. I did not even purchase the majority of them. Because I had already ended up a teaching job, I used the time to mark reports, make lesson plans and when I had no schoolwork to do, I even managed the occasional letter to my grandma. How may a professor training Classroom Administration not notice that I've slipped in my favorite book to read below the table? And why does a class on Curriculum Evaluation and Design hyper-focus on including activities for all those learning styles when the professor didn't do anything but lecture? As is the case for most in the teaching job, I quickly remarked that all my useful teaching techniques would come from experience in the classroom and not more teacher recertification courses, but rather many more experienced colleagues. Psychologically checked out, I went through the movements of my degree and managed to graduate with a 4.0.
"I wish I was permitted hands-on experience from day one," said one coworker when I began surveying course instructors to find out if my experiences were the norm. The other teachers I interviewed echoed her viewpoint. "I needed additional time in the classroom, more effort with veteran teachers, more shadowing of administrators, more work with diverse class room cultures." More.
Teachers need more.
What would education courses appear to be if pre-service teachers were associated with master teachers for the complete course of their training? Think of being in a class room and seeing what you're learning, doing what you are learning from the first day. How much better would you be when you took on your very first solo class? How much simpler would employing be when schools have had the opportunity to determine good quality teachers familiar with their communities and values? How much better would training be for the K-12 students who never have to serve as the learning curve for that first year teacher? It is a significant proposal, but we are due for a major change.
Still, suppose that higher education is not prepared to tackle this type of change. Even if we maintain the existing structure for a degree in education and teacher recertification, the courses shouldn't teach the theory behind greatest practices; they should be our greatest practices. What would a training course on Class room Management look like if students were offered the tasks of "trouble" children to play while another student taught? What if a course on Lesson Plan and Design targeted less on whether the goal comes before the goal and allowed students to experiment with different styles by teaching mini-lessons to their friends? What if the professors in each and every education class eliminated lecture as an acceptable teaching tool? Any good teacher knows that students learn best by doing.
Thus why are not we DOING?
I hope my experiences are not those of each and every educator in this country. I hope that someplace out there exist creative, effective and hands-on degrees which are building the next generation of teachers. I wish that someplace, teachers are walking into their first classrooms with all the experience they require and jumping right in. But I have not seen it yet.
Thus, for now, I offer my thanks to all of the teachers, managers and students who gave me the actual tools necessary to make my class room a better place and I invite folks new to the trade to swing by for a visit at any time. Just don't expect me to talk at you. You'll be too busy learning to listen to me.