Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Educating Teachers: A Thought Experiment

Jenny D asks:
There have been some comments suggesting Ed Schools are pointless. Okay. Suppose you eliminate them today. How would that improve schools?

UPDATE: Some have said that closing Ed Schools would improve the pool of teacher candidates. What evidence is there for that conclusion? It might be very correct. I just want to know.

Just for the record, new teachers entering the field are 22 or maybe 23 years old. They know what they know....and we cannot expect them to have the life experience or wisdom of an older person.

So what should we do to make sure the 23-year-old who is about to take over your child's classroom is capable?
I think that there is a place for Ed Schools in a high-quality teacher preparation program. Personally, I would like to see Ed school be a graduate program that leads to a Master's degree. Program entrants would be required to already possess at least a Bachelor's degree. I firmly believe that a graduate program would be necessary due to the comprehensive nature of an effective program of formal teacher preparation.

Such a graduate-level program should focus on both the theoretical as well as the practical. It would include, but not be limited to: the delivery of instruction, classroom management, child psychology and learning modalities, productive interaction with parents, legal issues, professional relationships, and an understanding of group dynamics as they relate to children.

It goes without saying that following the completion of the aspiring teacher's academic preparation, there should be a formal paid apprenticeship in an actual working classroom under the supervision of a well-trained coordinating teacher.

In realistic terms, such a program as that described above is impractical in the real world. The reasons involve numbers. The implementation of such an exhaustive program would mean that Ed schools would be unable to churn-out the tens-of-thousands of newly minted teachers that the current system of public education requires due to the horrendously high-rate of new teacher turn-over.

Maybe an accompanying question to Jenny's post should be: What can we do to keep good teachers in the classroom once we get them there?
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