Saturday, 23 April 2011

Can you train a teacher

in six weeks?
There was a report in our state newspaper this week suggesting that the best university graduates should be trained as teachers. They would get six weeks of intensive training and become "associative teachers". In the following two years they would complete a part-time diploma to become fully qualified and registered teachers.
Teacher training used to take two years. I did three years and it was considered unusual at the time. There were just 14 of us who did three years out of several hundred. Teacher training now takes four years and is a degree course rather than a diploma course.
The suggestion for training the best graduates is related to an apparent shortage of teachers in the areas of maths and science. I say "apparent" because there are maths and science teachers who are unable to get work or who have been on contract work for years.
And that may well be the real problem.
Teaching is no longer seen as a career. There is no career structure. Only a very, very lucky few get full time, permanant positions and shift up the ladder to senior positions over time.
It is all very different from my father's time. He started out in a one teacher school and could have ended up as an inspector of schools or beyond but decided he wanted to remain in schools and left as the head of one of the biggest and most demanding schools in the state.
Now a young would be teacher faces years of "contracts" and not knowing whether they will have a job the following year, or even the following term. They do not know where they will be. They cannot plan for their personal future, let alone a career.
People will not want to teach under these circumstances. Why should they? The best graduates may not make the best teachers anyway. In Law School particularly I was taught, or supposedly taught, by some of the most outstanding legal minds in Australia. They were nice people but they were not necessarily good teachers, indeed some of them were very bad teachers - and they knew they were not good. University teaching came second to doing research. Even training would not have made some of them good teachers. They simply could not understand that what they found so easy could cause problems for other people.
University graduates may not always make the best teachers. Some will. Some will not. We need people who understand what they are teaching but we also need people who understand teaching. After all my grandmother, with just three years of schooling herself, was an outstandingly good teacher. Nobody trained her at all.

1 comment:

Michelle Downunder said...

I can't image the best graduates would settle for teaching anyway.