Jayson Richardson, an assistant professor in the Department of Educational Leadership, University of North Carolina-Wilmington, wrote an interesting post, Rethinking teacher preparation, on the ‘Education Futures’ website. He said:
Let your mind wonder for just a moment. As yourself this question: If I could redesign an entire teacher education program, what would it look like?
Here is my vision of a teacher education program. I imagine a teacher preparation program that:
- Challenges the individual. No one in this program would say “But I thought getting an education degree was easy!”
- Is rigorous enough to attract intellectual, innovative, thought-leaders
- Robustly develops a student’s ability to solve problem, become a critical thinker, and work collaboratively.
- Is packed with upper level courses in history, ethics, mathematics, law, economics, policy, research, engineering, biology, anatomy, chemistry, and computer sciences (just to name a few).
- Is academically challenging so that becoming a educator is professionalized at the level of doctors, lawyers, MBAs, etc.
- Stresses global, national, and local issues. Students would not only understand where Cambodia is, but have some understanding of its politics, culture, history, and relationship to the rest of the world.
- Mandates each student study abroad.
- Mandates the individual gain proficiency in a foreign language.
- Forces the pre-teacher to act on the tenants of social justice and peace education. This individual would be a skilled conflict mediator.
- Produces teachers who are intercultural leaders.
How many of these points would you agree with? I wonder how many of these points are currently taught in teacher education programs?
I like the point about student teachers developing the ‘ability to solve problems, become a critical thinker, and work collaboratively.’ If we consider these skills important for our students, then we ought to do the same as teachers. Ideally, school programs and timetables should support teachers getting together, brainstorming ideas, solving problems and pooling their skills, knowledge and talents. Yes, we have teacher meetings, but how much of this time is taken up by the practical aspects of our work, and how much is devoted to a discussion of ideas, even just reflection about teaching experiences, what worked and what didn’t?
Although I don’t think overseas travel could ever become mandatory unless it was subsidised (yeah, right…), I do think we should stretch out to the world as much as we can. It’s easy to become isolated in Australia, and with tools such as Skype, blogging, Twitter, etc., it’s easy to make global connections, both for our own professional development (hey, that sounds formal and boring – for our own enjoyment!) and for the extension of our students’ experiences.
Which of these points do you consider important for teacher education?
What else would you add to this list?