Teacher quality is front and centre of educational discussion at the moment. “The Australian” columnist Glenn Fahey (18/2) has offered particularly telling and insightful commentary on the subject. Soul searching and comment about the need for change is futuristic in outlook, because focus and money has not resulted in accelerated learning outcomes. I believe that in looking forward, those responsible for teacher preparation need to reflect on the past teacher training practices, revisiting and including some of those key elements in our 21st century teacher preparation courses. When I trained in the 1960’s teaching methods were taught, practice teaching was paramount and phonics underpinned all aspects of language learning.
I worry that critical teaching and subject methodologies are now insufficiently stressed. Rather than prospective teachers receiving that understanding while in training, they graduate with degrees and as neophytes are expected to begin acquiring practical teaching skills and dispositions upon full-time entry into classroom teaching positions. Fahey extols the importance of graduate teachers learning from their experienced colleagues. That helps, but basic training is critically important. Superficial training means graduate teachers will flounder and students will suffer.