Wednesday, August 29, 2007

In Search of Good Teachers - A Laugh and A Half

That's the title of an editorial in todays NYT.
The problem was underscored by a front page article in The Times this week by Sam Dillon, which describes shortages so severe that some officials were seeking to fill positions by scooping up any warm body they could find. Better overall salaries and financial incentives for teachers who work in demanding areas are necessary. But the country must also adopt measures that increase the supply of high-quality teachers — especially in math and science — while cutting down on the distressingly large number of teachers who bail out of the profession early.

Please excuse me if I take some time to laugh. There are probably plenty of qualified, experienced scientists and mathmaticians that would love to teach school, including me. Unfortunately, these people may be a bit older or even retired. But they are still willing to pass on what they know about science and math. So what's stopping them? One word.....certification. You can't teach without being "certified" to teach. This means completing college courses such as "Adolescent Psychology and Learning Theory"; "Technology Foundations for Education; "Analysis of Teaching"; "Reading/Literacy"; "Issues in Science-Technology-Society" etc.

How many scientists, retired or not, are going to want to return to college to get a Masters in Teaching? Four years of undergraduate study, a year or two for a Masters Degree and 4-6 years spent getting a Ph.D. (not including several years of post-doc study) are not enough to qualify one to teach biology or chemistry or physics?

Most scientists are already capable teachers due to the amount of time required making presentations, writing grant applications and training technicians, post-docs and students. They may not be "expert" teachers in the secondary school sense. But does the curriculum presented in schools of education make one an "expert" teacher?

Sorry, but most scientists willing to teach probably do not want to return to college to get "certified" to teach.

1 comment:

Dangerdemocrat said...

As a former school board member I agree with you completely. I advocated for years for a regents Board of Review that would review candidates credentials and then exempt them from the certification process if they were obviously professionally qualified. I even modified that, by suggesting that an already certified teacher could be placed with the uncertified teacher in a one year team teaching internship to make certain that the non certified teacher could 'hack' the environment.
Both administrators and the union thought that was a bad idea.