Under-skilled teacher ed grads: blaming people or practise

When poor student scores are in the media teachers are either blamed or crook curricula held responsible. Which it is depends, Nicole Mockler (UniSyd) suggests, on the education sector involved.

She analysed four years of print media stories to find that 98 per cent of mentions of “teacher quality” referred to school teachers, while 68 per cent of “teaching quality” references were to HE and VET teachers.  It’s a big distinction, people are the problem in schools, while what is taught is the post-compulsory issue.

“The ongoing use of teacher quality in relation to school teachers reinforces the idea that there is something implicitly wrong with the teachers themselves, rather than with their practices,” Associate Professor Mockler  writes for the Australian Association for Research in Education.

This is bad news for teacher education faculties, because Aspro Mockler further found that fixing problems is considered the preserve of government, accrediting agencies, “and in some cases, universities,” through controls on who becomes a teacher “and what they learn in their way into teaching.”

She concludes; “we need to make it more about helping teachers to improve the quality of what goes on in their classrooms, and less about casting them as personally or professionally inadequate in the public space. We need to make it more about teachers’ practices and less about teachers as people. We need to make it more about real, collegial professional learning for improvement and less about trying to regulate our way to quality.”

But is it people or practise in the case of literacy and numeracy tests of teacher education grads (http://campusmorningmail.com.au/ CMM yesterday)? A bit of both. Victoria U was singled out for accepting teacher education students with low ATARS and the university’s teaching graduates having numeracy scores 20 per cent lower than the University of Melbourne.


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