Good teachers

There really is no more important profession than teaching, which is so essential for our future economic progress and political stability.

Yet, what is to be done about our schools? Students are graduating nowadays with an unsatisfactory grasp of writing, reading and math.

Reformers have offered many suggestions to improve the results. Some have tried reducing class size and perhaps introducing standardized tests. Others just blame bad teachers for our predicament, or even pointing the finger at unions for protecting them.

Currently it is suggested the substandard teachers should be replaced. Tenure shares some of the responsibility. It is widely assumed that data can point out the poor teacher as revealed in the students’ results. Hence, the good teachers can be noted and the others eliminated. Will this change the situation?

It is acknowledged that getting rid of bad teacher should help. However, it is more important to attract the good ones, so then the majority of such teachers will fill our schools.

In previous decades, teaching was not highly regarded as a career. Then most of the instructors were woman, as they were the best purveyors of moral direction. Too, it must be recognized that in an earlier era, schooling was for young children and women were best with them.

Also, education at that time required very little technical knowledge. As well, teaching was one of the few careers open to women. Teachers were poorly paid and often were chosen for their religious qualifications, not for academic learning. Of course, some of these factors persist today.

Teaching degrees were, and to a certain extent too often are, devoid of teaching “how to teach”.

Studies currently show that higher pay for teachers leads to better teachers, and more qualified personnel are attracted to teaching as a career. Unfortunately, better pay does not ensure that the people lured have good teaching qualifications.

Better professional development depends also on the knowledge and enthusiasm of the teacher. There is nothing like personal passion to infuse a teacher and the students.

Teachers enter a classroom with minimal experience at teaching, and only rarely do supervisors attend a class and observe the teacher at work.

Teaching is a skill that comes with innate ability and practice.

Therefore, there are remedies available to get better instructors. Higher pay, attraction of more qualified and enthusiastic people, and teaching how to teach, all could do wonders for this profession.



Bruce Whitestone