You can demand high academic standards in teacher trainees until you are blue in the face but people with high academic standards don't want a bar of chaotic Australian State schools. They have better job options. So dummies are all you can get to teach there
What is needed to raise teacher quality is to make teaching more attractive and that means making public school classes less like a warzone. And the only way to do that is to enforce civil standards of behaviour from the students. Unruly students should be diverted to special schools where physical means can be used to enforce compliance with the rules. In the old days students were caned as a punishment for bad behaviour. That could work again but Leftist opposition ensures it will not be reintroduced.
So what is the alternative? Australia has a well-known alternative: 40% of Australian teenagers go to private schools. Such schools are expensive so the kids concerned have to come from middle class homes -- where even a look can be sufficient discipline.
So in such schools teachers are allowed to teach and that is where the good teachers go. At my son's private school, he even had two MALE teachers, wonder of wonders
So Leftist failure to permit adequate discipline consigns as much as 60% of the child population to schools where very little gets taught in the worst cases. How compassionate!
THE way to lift Queensland's academic standards? Get brighter teachers. It's not rocket science - but then science, of any kind, is not the strong suit of most who are fronting our classrooms.
By accepting into education degrees the students at the bottom end of tertiary entrance rankings, we can't then expect top outcomes. An OP17 won't get you into most university degrees - and fair enough, too - but it will ensure you a seat in the lecture theatres at the Australian Catholic University.
I've written about this issue before and am familiar with the arguments of those who disagree with me, including fans of ACU and proud parents of young teachers who say the ability to relate to kids outweighs academics.
Now, Deanne Fishburn from the Queensland College of Teachers is claiming that "you can't be registered as a teacher in Queensland without meeting high and rigorous standards".
As director of the QCT - which, according to its website, "registers teachers for Queensland schools and accredits the state's preservice teacher education programs" - Ms Fishburn is hardly going to admit the status quo stinks. Naturally, she will defend it.
However, as part of her argument, she says that those high standards include that "teacher education students must have passed senior English and mathematics". That means obtaining a C. Hardly what I'd call excellence.
When economic experts are continually identifying the greatest jobs growth in fields that require higher level maths and critical thinking, such as engineering and technology, why are we settling for a pass mark in those who would inspire and instruct future job-seekers? It is unreasonable to expect people who are average achievers themselves to be able to confidently unpack complex problems to others.
Alarming findings from the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute back me up on this. Only one in four teenagers is learning from a specialist maths teacher - someone who studied maths at university, including for six months as part of their four-year education degree. Too often, sports or music teachers are also taking maths classes.
It's no better in primary school, with AMSI director Geoff Prince saying that teachers are "breaking out in a cold sweat" when they have to teach maths. Contrary to the requirement to which Ms Fishbum refers, Mr Prince says many "haven't done maths through to Year 12 (and) don't understand fractions and percentages properly themselves".
Ms Fishburn argues that focusing on OP scores (soon to
be ATAR) distorts the real picture of the beginning teacher workforce. Reason being, she says, is the average age of graduate teachers is 28, meaning they are likely to have a career behind them or perhaps another degree. They might also have had several gap years, stuffed around switching courses,'Or taken longer than usual to complete their teaching qualifications.
Don't get me wrong - life experience is valuable, but it shouldn't excuse academic mediocrity or underperformance.
In Finland - a much stronger performer than Australia in PISA international benchmarking - all teachers hold a master's degree.
Teaching polls as Finland's most admired profession, and you can't just walk into an education degree. You have to be the cream of the crop. This is how it should be.
As Peter Goss, director of the Grattan Institute School Education Program, told the Courier-Mail yesterday: "Teaching is a complex job. It requires strong cognitive abilities as well as the emotional skills to relate to the children, but unfortunately the academic backgrounds of new teachers has been dropping for 40 years and has continued to drop even over the last decade."
Lowering the bar to address teacher shortages - which is partly why an OP17 is considered adequate - will not attract high achievers. What will, however, is not an easy fix. It requires a major shift in how we, as a society, view the value of education and, in turn, respect, train and remunerate teachers. Kids deserve the best educators - those who combine academic proficiency with "soft" skills such as creativity, communication and empathy, but as it stands now, that boils down to sheer luck.
From the Brisbane "Courier Mail" of 18 January, 2020
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