“If schools are going to be good, we need good teachers,” education researcher Michael McShane recently noted in a new study. That’s a no-brainer, right?
Unfortunately, as McShane discovered, some of today’s teachers don’t believe they receive adequate preparation to teach in the classroom, particularly in the ever-expanding realm of alternative schools and education.
As the chart below shows, 60% of teachers who work in public district schools believe their teacher preparation education effectively prepared them for the classroom. Less than 20% of teachers in private, charter, and other alternative forms of education, however, say the same.
That’s troubling, particularly since the public is waking up to the fact of how poorly public schools educate the nation’s children. If today’s teachers are only prepared to teach in the public school classroom, what will happen when they decide to flee the public schools (as they’re already doing) and find somewhere else to teach? Will the problems of the public schools simply follow them?
Former New York teacher of the year John Taylor Gatto recognized this problem nearly 20 years ago in his book, A Different Kind of Teacher, noting that teachers need to be reinvented–deprogrammed, if you will–if we are to avoid this situation.
According to Gatto, American education is based on the Prussian school system. “Prussian teachers were allowed to teach nothing personal or substantive; they were trained like soldiers to take orders from staff experts.” Gatto goes on to explain that our teachers have been trained in the same mold, “deadening” their individual thinking and “lock[ing] the mind into an official straitjacket.”
“Teachers teach who they are,” Gatto explains. “If they are incomplete people, they reproduce their incompleteness in their students. Institutions like our teacher certification process prevent people from becoming whole by imposing machine logic and directives on human life.”
Thus, in order to break both our children and our teachers free from this broken system, we must train our teachers to be independent, well-rounded, mature people. “It’s not a matter of intelligence or goodwill,” Gatto writes. “If a person enters the teaching profession with no mature skills, no powerful family ties, no deeply rooted personal culture, no traditions, no sense of God, no familiarity with real work, and no independent nature, it will be impossible to acquire them on the job.”
In other words, we need to get back to basics with our teachers. Instead of the latest education philosophies, they need to know and understand the foundational material of faith and family, the worth of a human being, and the value of the deep-seated traditions which once made our country great. Then, and only then, will our teachers be truly ready to face any classroom of children–public, private, charter, or otherwise.
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