Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Mr.Summers Excellent OpEd is Noteworthy for What is Not in There

Joseph V. Summers wrote an excellent Op-Ed in today’s Trenton Times, but I think I will remember the essay more for what is NOT in the piece rather than the actual content. The subject of the Op-Ed is the teaching profession. Mr. Summers is confronting head on efforts to demean and diminish the profession,  expressing his support for education and appreciation for teachers. His main point is that teaching is a “learned art,” and that taking shortcuts on the road to a career in teaching will result in poor performance and failure in the goals of inspiring learning and serving as positive role models.

I strongly support his belief that the best way to train new teachers and motivate them to stay in the profession is to provide a strong support system utilizing master teachers to mentor and clinical supervisors to provide collaborative  (or directed) supervision.  I have always argued that every school in the State should have a supervisor whose only job is to provide clinical supervision. And I can attest to the utility of a master teacher; as an Alternate Route teacher I was assigned two mentors that proved invaluable.

But as the title of this blog and the first sentence suggests, the essay left out one traditional component to teacher preparation, that being a degree in education. I hope the omission was intentional, because I am adamant in my belief that our next generation of high school teachers in particular should NOT be those with a degree in secondary education.  As Mr. Summers article suggests, teaching is learned “on the job,” by trial and error, and those that are knowledgeable, passionate, organized, resourceful, and empowering will have a great likelihood of success if that aforementioned support system is in place.

An education degree is superfluous for success in the classroom, and we should be finding our teachers from the private sector and from those graduating with “specialized degrees” in content areas.  I hope that our “leaders” in education will provide the resources to attract people into education and then support them once they enter the profession. This is the only way we will be able to reduce the “drop out“rate in teaching and give students the kind of people that will inspire them to greatness. It is the students of course that will be the true beneficiaries of improvements to teacher quality, and they are certainly worth the effort.

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