Thursday, February 20, 2014

Mr Pyne's review of teacher training

I read Commonwealth Education Minister Mr Pyne's announcement on a national review of teacher training with a degree of befuddlement. The core of the review seems clear enough:

Reporting later this year, the group will undertake extensive public and stakeholder consultation while focusing on three key areas:

· Pedagogical approaches: the ways teachers teach their students, and the different ways teaching and learning can occur.
· Subject content: how well teachers understand the content of subjects they are teaching, and
· Professional experience: opportunities for pre-service teachers to put theory into practice through quality in-school learning experiences.

My primary confusion in this case lies in my own lack of knowledge as to just what is included now in teacher education. I had a look at the course outline at one university with major involvement in this area, and in the end wasn't all that much clearer beyond noting some of the current bureaucratic flavour to the English used. I think that reflects the primary destination marketplace, in this case the NSW school system.

I know that some of my readers have far more expertise in this area than I do. I can analyse the English involved and link it to its different contexts, but I don't really know what its like to be taught this material. Now putting Mr Pyne aside for the moment. I wondered if someone could give me a simple explanation of what is actually taught or not taught; how it helps or hinders if and when you get to the classroom; and, given that many who do these courses don't teach in the end, how useful the course as a broader education?

This last is quite important. In law, for example, there are so many Australian graduates now that a significant proportion will never practice. Law is having to sell itself on the broader attributes attached to such studies as an entry to other careers.

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