The point is that pedagogy is an evolution of educational thought that assumes that the process of education plays an important role in how children learn. To downplay pedagogy, as Bennett seems to be doing, actually reduces the professionalism of teachers.
Bennett wants teachers to know more about the subjects they teach, especially in elementary education, and wants curricula to reflect that. Secondary education teachers would major in a specialized area — say, math — and minor in education.
Of course, teachers are upset about this. An Associated Press story quoted an educator as saying that teachers never mention needing to know more about a subject but oftentimes say they could use more training in how to teach. It is important, however, that teachers keep abreast of developments in their subject area and continue learning that subject. Bennett’s proposal would make it easier for people in other disciplines to become teachers by reducing pedagogy courses. “You have to know how to teach,” said John Ellis, executive director of the Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents. “There are people who are extraordinarily bright, extraordinarily gifted in their areas of specialty but just simply don’t know how to relate to kids.”
To teachers, Bennett’s ideas are an assault on a profession that no other licensed group would have to undergo. No one is arguing, for example, that doctors need to study more about anatomy than procedure. For lawyers, trying cases is immeasurably more important than knowing precedents, which clerks can look up.
Slapping education with reforms, however, seems to be the status quo, maybe because teachers are paid with taxpayer dollars. Republicans, of which Bennett is one, seem particularly adept at micromanaging education. In 1983, President Ronald Reagan’s administration produced “A Nation at Risk,” a study that concluded that the U.S. education system is falling behind the rest of the world. No Child Left Behind was the product of George W. Bush’s administration.
To put underqualified people in front of the state’s students is asking for trouble. The purpose of a teacher is not only to know the subject, but to know how to guide students through the choppy waters of learning, to challenge and inspire and understand how students learn. The importance of pedagogy shouldn’t be underestimated.
Bennett would like such important changes rushed through, but members of the Indiana Professional Standards Board, which must approve Bennett’s changes, have said that they need more time to study the implications of (in our words) a less professional teaching force. The board should reject Bennett’s attempt to water down educational standards."