Rethinking Teacher Education

Article excerpt

Educators Speak

Rethinking teacher education

Consuelo Canlas-Callang, Ph.D. University of Perpetual Help System AS early as the 1970s, Richey wrote, as others too had done, about the need to adequately prepare teachers for the job ahead of them after college. After more than two decades, the demands of preparing teachers along pedagogy and content have given rise to multiple problems.

While "long ago" teachers needed to be good at content, methods and techniques, they also needed to master their different educational theories and philosophies. As long as they could identify which method and/or techniques would best be used for a lesson, they were safe.

Lesson planning was predictable, with motivation, lesson proper and evaluation lording over the whole process of teaching. As long as the teachers read the "right" books, wrote the lesson plan "right," based the tests on what had been achieved, structured the room according to purpose and kept a semblance of order through "routinizing" and setting the "climate" right, then the teacher didn't have to worry about making mistakes. Children learned by rote, context clues and memorization/drill exercises.

Even then however, teacher education was seen as a little "inadequate for its purpose." It was thought that many beginning teachers in the US and elsewhere failed to exhibit/manifest the needed competencies in communicative competencies, logic, perseverance, patience with students/pupils, cognitive readiness in terms of skills in imparting knowledge as teaching was looked at then, in terms of delivering of needed services, which meant making pupils learn.

Because experts then thought that one term "practice teaching" or internship was inadequate, it was suggested that a one-year probation or internship period where the new teacher education graduate would work under the tutelage of identified capable teachers should form part of the whole teacher-education process. The scheme failed to takeoff.

As education was wont to be in our country, changes would make inroads into the process, leaving not only neophytes in the field bewildered and confused, which characterized practically everything/everyone within the system.

The teaching of such subjects as Reading, Language, Writing and Arithmetic had to go through the needed repackaging among which had been the teaching of English as a Second Language (TESL), Developmental Reading and the integration of the skills in reading, language and writing under Communication Arts. The teaching of mathematics had its share of "modern math" and now we see/hear about "Kumon math," "finger math," and "Aloha" mental arithmetic. As if these changes (among others) in the delivery of services which had to be mastered by teachers were not enough, the introduction of Educational Technology necessitated mastery in the use of the overhead projector, the slide projector, the television and the video machines-from Betamax to VHS, among others.

These all demanded the learning of new skills to make teaching more effective. Not only did the teachers need to learn how to make flash cards, models, charts and diagrams and graphs then, teacher education curricula had to undergo changes, too. Instead of methods of teaching, models of teaching, and content of curriculum, students in the course now needed to learn Foundations of Education and Strategies for Teaching along with the needed General Education subjects. However, a sad observation among new teachers in the field nowadays is the seeming lack of enough stock knowledge on the classics, general information and the like - while exhibiting skills in the use of computers, etc.

Of interest to curriculum designers is the question of relevance. Part of this is the need for learners to be motivated in the learning task with the classroom built on real life experiences, to borrow an idea from curriculum experts.

To be able to do address the issue of relevance, the following have to be seen as needs:

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