I think of education initiatives as a WWI battle. First you shell your own lines for a few weeks. Then force the survivors out to charge against machine gun nests. After that you bayonet the wounded. The generals then sit about in Paris complaining about how the men let them down.
So it is with the Education Revolution – but this time the generals have a plan to fix the men. Clearly the men actually waging the war aren’t good enough.
Under the new Gillard Government proposal, teaching degrees will have to introduce an improved admissions process and aspiring teachers will need to pass a national literacy and numeracy test.
Mr Bowen said the Government wanted to see comprehensive standards for teaching courses, to ensure all new teachers had the skills and experience they needed before entering the classroom.
“We want to improve the quality of our university teaching graduates and make sure they are meeting the standards we would expect of teachers in the Australian school system,” Mr Bowen said.
“We want to ensure that every single teaching graduate has the required skills to be effective teachers and positive role models, regardless of which subject or at what level they teach.”
Really love that idea – have experience before you enter the classroom.
“We are focussed on raising the quality of teaching at every stage of a teacher’s career. Our plan will make sure that only those people who have high levels of literacy and numeracy, a dedication for teaching and a great classroom practice will graduate and enter our schools.
That sounds very Orwellian. You will only graduate if you have “a dedication for teaching”. I am always very suspicious of any grading scheme that deviates from the student getting 50 per cent in an objective examination process. Mind you the “high levels of literacy and numeracy” mean that PE will never be taught again – that must be an improvement already.
Now we can quibble whether or not the yoof of today are misedumacated better or worse than their parents. But let’s say they not. Also the kind of people becoming teachers today are not the best and brightest as they might have been a generation or three ago. In fact many of the women who would have become teachers yesteryear are now lawyers, investment bankers, and the like. So does the decline in the relative ability of teachers explain the decline in education outcomes. Maybe – but I suspect this is one area where correlation and causation is being confused.
Rather than blame the teachers, why not blame the education regulators? All those people who don’t ever stand in front of a classroom yet pontificate on what is taught and how it is taught. I saw a great graphic from the US and I suspect the numbers would be similar for Australia.
Having the federal government and university education faculties “working” together to “improve” teacher training is something that leaves me very cold.