A Comparative Analysis of the Models of Teacher Education in Terms of Teaching Practices in the USA, England, and Turkey

Article excerpt

The developed countries are trying to restructure their education systems continuously to meet the needs. In such a time of restructuring, a country is regarded as successful if it can solve problems that arise in teacher education, one of the important components of education. Luke, Luke & Mayer (2000) stated that what really matters in an education system is to educate qualified teachers, which is closely related to all kinds of problems in the field. One should always keep in mind that they are the teachers who put into practice the approaches no matter how good they are. In a report carded out by Conley & Bacharach (1987), it is emphasized that we need to educate qualified teachers if we wish to enhance how students are doing. Quality can be attained through programs making it possible for teachers to be educated in an atmosphere where they are oriented towards learner-centered systems enabling students to acquire such skills as reaching knowledge and solving problems. Therefore, teacher education will definitely play an important role in achieving success if enough attention is paid. We find it necessary to keep up-to-date with what has been done for the last two decades in other countries and act accordingly in Turkey. In light of the literature in the field we can see that there are two fundamental approaches through which student teachers are educated: i) Teaching theories before practicing, ii) Teaching theories while practicing (Cepni, 1993).

In the first approach, student teachers go through an education process based on theories during which they acquire knowledge of the field as well as how to teach the field. Then, they are ready to practice all the knowledge and the skills they have learnt in practice schools for several weeks. In the 1980s, a series of books on teacher education came out in England in an attempt to scrutinize this approach in an affirmative way. This reflected the philosophy prevalent in England at the time and contributed greatly to the preparation of programs in which theoretical knowledge is taught initially. Such changes emphasize the philosophy of teacher education based on theoretical knowledge to be learnt at the undergraduate level. Theoretically oriented teacher education provides student teachers with needed knowledge and skills in attaining objectives (Evertson, Hawley & Zlotnik, 1985). A study shows that student teachers would be faced with practicing problems they are not able to overcome if they were not equipped with theoretical knowledge (Griffin, 1989). However, there are, of course, other studies against this because such an approach wouldn't make any contributions to their learning processes (Loughran, Brown & Doecke, 2001; Russell, 1988). In addition, this approach receives criticism since practice schools fail to fulfill their responsibilities effectively or mentor teachers feel that counseling instructors are fully responsible for student teachers (Cepni & Azar, 1996). Student teachers are given little chance to put theoretical knowledge into practice in a systematic and controlled way. As a result, student teachers experience such difficulties as classroom management, evaluating papers and activities, and understanding diversity in class (Brickhouse & Bodner, 1992; Veenman, 1984).

The approach of teaching theories while practicing is based on statements like Real learning comes with practice, Experience will guide you, and Practice makes learning perfect (Feiman-Nemser & Buchman, 1985). In this approach, student teachers are encouraged to acquire professional knowledge and skills by making personal efforts. This will require them to spend most of their time practicing in schools, and to understand what the job is really like (Yost et al., 2000). In other words, student teachers must try to learn professional knowledge, skills, and business etiquette that they feel in need of, and to learn by living in real-life situations. …