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Finally, a Step Forward in Education

pyne

I have been saying over and over again that something has to be done about the poor quality of teacher training. I have written to education ministers and tried to sell the message through this site, that improved teacher training was a must. Even though I was certain that an overhaul of our teacher training courses would bring immediate results, I felt that no politician would have the courage to even look at this area, let alone actively take the project on.

I am overjoyed to be proven wrong:

Federal Education Minister Christopher Pyne will announce on Wednesday a far-reaching review into teacher training in a bid to make education degrees less ”faddish” and ”ideological”.

Australian Catholic University vice-chancellor Greg Craven – a vocal opponent of minimum entry scores for teaching degrees – will chair an eight-member advisory panel to report to Mr Pyne by the middle of this year.

An eight-member ministerial advisory group will report by the middle of the year on how education degrees at universities can better prepare new teachers.

“There is absolutely no reason at all why Australia, as one of the wealthiest countries in the world … shouldn’t have the best teacher training in the world,” Mr Pyne told reporters in Adelaide on Wednesday.

“I want it to be more practical, I want them to have better experiences in the classroom rather than in universities and I want it to be less theoretical.”

Mr Pyne said the only way the federal government could influence teacher quality was by looking at university courses.

He suggested the standard was too low because very few people failed teaching degrees.

But he said imposing minimum entry scores for teaching degrees was a “blunt instrument” that would not guarantee quality.

Instead he wants the advisory body to have a particular focus on in-classroom training.

“My instinct is that the more a teacher is in the classroom learning on the job about how to teach people how to count and to read, the better,” he said.

Amen to that!

Click on the link to read my post Tips For New Teachers from Experienced Teachers

Click on the link to read, ‘Teachers Trained Very Well to Teach Very Poorly

Click on the link to read my post 25 Characteristics of a Successful Teacher

Click on the link to read my post 10 Important Tips for New Teachers

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3 Responses to “Finally, a Step Forward in Education”

  1. John Tapscott Says:

    Poor quality of teacher training certainly is an issue. The rot set in about 40 years ago when teachers colleges became Colleges of Advanced Education and continued when the CAE’s were subsumed into Universities.

    If Mr Pyne is able to turn this around it would be good. However, I don’t believe his doctrinaire stance will allow it to happen. Going by the composition of his review panel one would be excused for thinking the outcome of the review is already decided; that the purpose of the review is to justify plans already decided. Nevertheless, I will try to keep an open mind.

    The quality of the review will depend on what the reviewers believe education is all about and how it works, their understanding of how children learn and of human cognitive development. How many experienced teachers will they talk to?

    My fears are based on the number of “reforms” to education, here and overseas, that have led to the the dysfunctional situation education appears to be in. For example, “No Child Left Behind” seems, by many accounts, to be leaving more children behind than ever before.

    • Michael G. Says:

      I agree with most of your comments, but even if it just brings about a shift from theory to the more practical teaching experiences as Pyne suggests, it will be a good step in the right direction.

      • John Tapscott Says:

        Michael, what I am seeing in schools at the moment are teachers using poorly written textbooks, full of ambiguities, that no doubt faithfully follow the national curriculum. One example is a commonly used Mental Maths text full of random examples, with one example not being clearly delineated from the next, introducing so much new material as to require a whole series of lessons before the children have any hope of completing the exercise and what’s more including mathematical inaccuracies.

        This is not an isolated instance. Unless something is done about the curriculum, which attempts to teach too much too quickly, we are going to have whole schools full of children left behind.

        At the risk of repeating something I said before, when I was trained we were given some solid training in education theory, reinforced by demonstration lessons and practical experience. Without an underpinning of sound educational theory, including information on child cognitive development, the practice will be shoddy, as in the case with many text books. We were also trained in curriculum. There was a state curriculum which was more of a guide than a prescription. Teachers were empowered to use the curriculum document and tailor it to the needs of their children. What I am now seeing is a forced march with the curriculum having primacy over the needs of the children it is intended to serve. Teachers are slavishly following that curriculum in very fear of their jobs. It’s not good enough!

        Mr Pyne is right to require better teacher training. Those of us who were trained in a bygone era can see the disregard for children’s cognitive development in the curriculum. We are seeing children going through certain motions required by the current curriculum. They are going through the motions but they don’t get the concepts. Do you know what happens when a square peg is driven into a round hole?

        What constitutes better teacher training is a matter for debate. But it’s a debate we need to have. Compliance is not competence and compliance seems to be what it’s all about now. Any teacher training that forces compliance to one way of doing things is not improved training. It’s brainwashing.

        It is to be hoped that common sense and sound educational ideas will prevail.

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