Several months back, the National Council on Teacher Quality reported that approximately 78.6% of the nation's teacher training programs are inadequate.
Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Barbara Nemko and Harold Kwalwasser offer a bit of the history to explain why this startling figure is accurate:
- When teaching training programs first began in the 19th and early 20th century, teachers--mostly women and minorities--weren't expected to possess great skills because their training provided them the script they would use to teach students.
- Fast forward to 2010. The average critical-reading SAT score of entering college freshmen was 501, but for education majors it was 481. The math average was 516 compared with 486. In writing, it was 492 versus 477.
So, nothing's really newsworthy here. In general, education majors have been weaker, academically speaking, than their peers in other majors.
What is newsworthy is one of the reforms Nemko and Kwalwasser suggest. It takes dead aim at the heart of the reason why those programs are inadequate.
Nemko and Kwalwasser would have state funds for the colleges, schools, and departments of education be transferred directly to school districts which would be responsible for teacher training. Districts would provide the training themselves or contract with outside entities to provide the training. This reform presumes, of course, that aspiring teachers would major in a relevant undergraduate area of inquiry (math, science, English, for example), strengthening their content-area knowledge.
Nemko and Kwalwasser note:
Many good school districts have robust professional development
programs for their already-hired teachers. Requiring them to supervise
or provide training for new teachers is simply an add-on to a program,
not a new invention. In general, empowering school districts to provide
teacher training will make them much more demanding than colleges
of education-because districts have to live with the results.
The Motley Monk is reminded of those parochial school classrooms filled with 40, 50, and yes, even 60 students during the 1940s, 1950s, and early- to mid- 1960s being taught by sisters who were barely out of high school. For all that was lacking--and there was a lot lacking in terms of professional training--those brave young, women ultimately did an excellent job educating classrooms full of kids.
It may be that the best place to learn how to teach is by teaching. What's needed is being mentored by experienced teachers who capably assist neophytes to reflect upon their teaching.
Considering the dollars and cents involved, the cost for good mentorship is a whole lot less than university-based college, school, or departments of teacher education.
Let the discussion begin...
To read Barbara Nemko and Harold Kwalwasser's article, click on the following link:
"Why Teacher Colleges Get a Flunking Grade."