Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Editorial: Schools chief's proposals are detrimental to education

Another Editorial against REPA, this time from The Herald Bulletin.  Voices are coming together in their opposition to REPA.  Have you told someone about the dangers?  If the DOE moves forward without listening to us, we must hold them accountable.  Please share this website with your friends and family.  Link to the original article at the bottom of this post.  

"Indiana schools Superintendent Tony Bennett has been courting controversy since he took the office in January. An enthusiastic cheerleader for charter schools, Bennett recently took the bold move of challenging Indiana’s teacher education curriculum. He claims he is only thinking of the schoolchildren, but he’s wrong here. In fact, his policy could be detrimental to children because underqualified personnel could be standing in front of the blackboard.
What is at issue here is pedagogy, which is the study of how a teacher teaches or methods of instruction. How someone teaches and what methods are best to reach children have been discussed and theorized through the ages. Socrates had his method of intense questioning, which was eventually named after him. Noted pedagogy theorists include American philosopher John Dewey. Dewey argued that pedagogy should be a separate department, which would train its students to be specialists in education. Dewey started the Department of Pedagogy at the University of Chicago.
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."

Original Article


No comments:

Post a Comment