The Inadequacy of Teacher Education

Ben Feller ("Study says teacher training is chaotic", Boston Globe) writes about a study conducted by Arthur Levine, former President of Teachers College at Columbia University, asserting that teacher education is "deeply flawed." (For the report, go to The Education Schools Project.) The main points are:

  • a lack of common required skills in teacher education programs
  • low admissions standards
  • disengaged college faculty
  • inadequate practice in the classroom, and
  • inadequate supervision

I can identify with inadequate supervision and the lack of practice in the classroom. When I went to Turkey to teach English armed with my masters degree, I knew the theory but had had zero practice. In Turkey, I was scrambling every night to figure out what I would do the next day. And there was almost no communication among teachers to resolve what I should teach, and so subsitute in a way for a mentor.

What I appreciate most about teaching today is that I have a few engaged colleagues with whom I discuss on an almost daily basis what's going on in our classrooms and how to improve our pedagogy. In addition to the problems that Levine found, I would suggest that aspiring teachers should be organized into support groups to learn from one another and perhaps even continue to support one another after graduation.