Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Issue of Teacher Training (and How it relates to me)

I realize that I am about a week and a half late in responding to this post, but I have to address this. Eduwonk recently posted a piece dealing with the subject of "traditional teacher training" vs. more alternative training methods. I have to say that I am a little confused by what the author of this post is trying to say:

"It’s not that [teacher] training doesn’t matter, but training on the job does seem to make a lot more sense than the traditional education school approach."

I guess I don't know how a lot of states do it, but is the author saying that traditional teaching programs don't bother with actual classroom time? Is it generally an either/or, meaning either go through a training program period, or skip training and go right into the classroom? Why not a combination of both? That is what I am currently doing (it is required in the state of Missouri). The past couple of years, I have been doing nothing but taking education classes, and in a couple of months, I am about to start working directly inside an actual classroom (student teaching/field experience).

Unless he is saying that "traditional teacher programs" do require classroom experience, but that isn't working either. If that is the case, than this really scares me:

"In general the evidence from methodologically solid studies is not encouraging in terms of the value of traditionally prepared teachers being more effective relative to those coming through other routes."

So, if what I am in is a "traditional" teacher training, am I essentially waisting my time? Is my program doing me very little good other than helping me get certification? I have to say that my training so far has given me a lot more confidence in my ability to enter a classroom and teach (certainly more confidence than before I started in my program).

I understand the current trend of looking for new and radical ways of doing things in education, and I am certainly not against that (we do need a major paradigm shift in education). But I also worry that more traditional methods might be labeled as obsolete, and thrown away. Certainly, traditional teaching programs (like, I suppose, the one I am in) still holds some merit and credibility. Perhaps I am just hoping that my current program is actually going to help me be a better teacher.

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