Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Semi-Brief Rant - No One Cares About Your Ties

I'm so tired of hearing everyone rag on schools of education.  Maybe it's because I'm currently attending one, and although I am desperate (No really, you have NO IDEA) to graduate, I still think it was a valuable experience. Maybe it's because I owe tons of money in student loans and don't want anyone to crap on one of the biggest purchases I've ever made.  Or maybe I'm just sick of people ragging on every aspect of teachers and teaching without looking in the freaking mirror.  Hey, haters, NEWSFLASH, teachers aren't in schools, running schools and working in schools alone.

Stick THAT in your finger-pointing pipe and smoke it.

I found this article that discusses the need for additional teacher preparation.  While it does focus quite a bit on career-switchers, I think new teachers who are certified via a traditional certification route have the same issues and struggles.

I mean, don't we all cry in supply closets for most of our first year?

What I don't get is how everyone thinks these alternative routes to certification are finger-snapping ideas.  I know some really quality people come out of both routes.  However, really crappy people come out of both routes too. So what I don't get is how alternative routes to certification, which seem to do just do things faster, are supposed to be better.  People say it's because they're more practically focused and the university is too theoretically focused.  Don't we want a little bit of both worlds- not a quick and dirty version of one or the other?  Don't we want to have teachers who can work effectively but also think deeply about issues in their classrooms?

Obama and Duncan say they're unhappy with traditional routes to certification, but REALLY, what are they proposing that is so radically different?  They're super into career-changers.  Super.  They're into residency programs like the one in Boston.  It may be a lovely little program, I don't know.  However, from what I was able to read about it on their website, it doesn't sound all that different from how I was certified in a school of education.  They have a two month summer institute.  I had three years of related classes.  They have one year of student teaching, four days a week with classes on evenings and Fridays.  I student taught five days a week and had class in the evening.  Really, the only difference I see is that they get a stipend.  I paid tuition.  A stipend would have been hot, but as an undergrad I never expected one. 

Do I think things are great the way they are?  No.  Do I think things are going to change?  No.  Or at least not until the Powers That Be (and probably people in general) begin to take teaching more seriously, give it the respect it deserves and truly see it as a complicated craft that demands equal parts content knowledge, pedagogical knowledge and interpersonal skills to do successfully.

And while it is cool to borrow from other models of career preparation (such as the popular version of teacher preparation that mirrors a medical model), I think borrowing ideas is different from blatantly stealing them and refusing to tweak them in any way to suit the context of education.  When are the Powers That Be going to realize that we are an institution, a craft, a field in and of ourselves and should probably have our own language to discuss and understand how we need to be prepared and where we see ourselves moving in the future?  I'm so tired of being the stray dog that has to depend on the scraps of others. 

As long as we are viewed as workers that can be replaced in a wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am fashion, nothing is going to change.  I don't care what career you had, what race you are, what education you've acquired... until we fundamentally change the way teachers are viewed, the ways in which we are prepared will not change either. 

I say, stop tinkering around like a bunch of d-bags. Stop making drastic moves that are NOT well thought out in an effort to distract.  Stop acting like you can solve everything just because you own a plethora of power ties.

5 comments:

Stu said...

I just read an article you may have seen by Deborah Meier talking about teacher education...and the whole "anyone can teach" thing. Very worth while reading.

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peace in the classroom said...

I heard that Kaplan is going to be accredited to certify teachers. I know... it's beyond disgusting.

din819go said...

please explain to me what exactly a "certificate" says about a teacher's ability to teach? Last I heard it means absolutely nothing. In fact some of the best teachers are not certified. Sadly...government schools will not allow them in but private schools will gobble them up...why are you so conerned with who certifies a teacher if it means nothing...

On Deborah Meier's rant...she has it all wrong...I posted comments on what I think she missed...the whole point of internships and residencies not the patient/doctor relationship.

Mimi said...

Stu- totally checking out the Deborah Meier piece. Did I ever tell you about the time I met her?? Let's just say tongue tied doesn't even begin to describe it!

din819g0 - I think teacher certification SHOULD mean more than it does. While I agree that there are many fine people in private schools (with and without certificates), I am a firm believer in education degrees.

Dan said...

I'm about as authoritative as an old cow regarding this issue, particularly since I'm not even a teacher yet, but I hear good things about at least some alternative certification programs, like Troops to Teachers. I hope it's good since I plan on using it to get started in education myself.

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