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Possible Teacher Prerequisites

4 October, 2010

With the shakeup that is the National Curriculum, I suppose we could have anticipated this: a standardised system of prerequisites is being introduced for prospective teachers.  To become primary school teachers, school leavers must score in the top 30 percent in both English and maths; and to become high school teachers, the top 30% in English alone.  Also, they will have to study one major for three years and one minor for two years.  Education students will now have to be trained in special education, teaching indigenous students, along with behaviour management, assessment and use of data.

Tough Standards for Aspiring Teachers, Australian Teachers Magazine

One could wonder quite a few things about this.

Firstly, one might be excused for thinking that a shortage of teachers was mythical.  Perhaps that is the case, of course.  One of the comments on this page indicated that this would bring the aura of professionalism into teaching.  This may be so, but professionals have far higher wages than teachers do.

Secondly, as someone who went through the current system – complete with a graduate diploma – I know how much of my education degree I actually use in my classrooms today.  I’m sorry to say, it’s painfully little.  The most beneficial part of my education degree – the field experience in schools – was sadly unmentioned by the news report.

I’m not sure what the answer is, but I’m fairly sure that the answer is probably not to be found in squashing a passion to educate with unnecessary knowledge to be learnt and, usually, forgotten.

We could take a lesson from psychology’s book.  It’s the same profession, yes, and things have to be learnt about psychology no matter which branch of psychology is studied.  However, there are different branches of psychology, and an organisational psychologist is a very different entity to a clinical psychologist – with different expectations of career progression.  Teachers can be thought of similarly, able to branch off into special education or indigenous education or such, but not every teacher needs to be able to educate special needs children.  A teacher who would need to juggle so many different needs would ultimately have difficulty in keeping their sanity.

Yet, maybe that’s not the best way.  All I can think is, there must be a better way.

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