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Teachers and Pavlovian ideals October 21, 2014

Posted by Editor21C in Education Policy and Politics, Social Justice and Equity through Education, Teacher, Adult and Higher Education.
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from Associate Professor Carol Reid

Professor Stephen Dinham of the University of Melbourne was quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald saying: “It is quite unethical to let people train in an occupation profession [sic] they are not going to be employed in”. Hot on the heels of this piece was another in Campus Review with the strapline ‘Teachers say training leaves them unprepared’. This foray into such ‘hot’ topics is to highlight a central problematic. The notion that teachers are to be ‘trained’. Like dogs you think? Rats on wheels? Think of the discourses around teachers. Rewards for getting scores up. Penalties for not doing so. The list is extensive and conjures up a plethora of metaphors.

Yet it isn’t really very funny as the idea that teachers receive ‘training’ goes to the heart of the professional identities of teachers. Teachers are educated. Just like anyone who enters a university. This means that they take a course and yes, sometimes they don’t end up doing what the course was focussed on. Sometimes teacher education leads people into totally new directions – like the Wiggles.

Why do we see teacher education graduands who don’t end up in schools as waste? Apart from the argument that Dinham mounts about numbers games in universities, which is another argument altogether, in our part of the world, Greater Western Sydney, a teaching qualification will open up a new life for someone who is the first in their family to go to university. While a teaching degree may not lead to standing in front of a classroom it may well lead to knowledge that is less quantifiable. It may create further opportunities for family members and contribute to social and cultural capital in communities. A teaching degree may lead to empowered parenting. How is this waste?

It’s only a small word but it carries so much veiled power in its clutches.

Carol Reid is an associate professor in the School of Education  and a senior researcher in the Centre for Educational Research  at the University of Western Sydney, Australia.

Comments»

1. Jorge Knijnik - October 21, 2014

Great thoughts Carol Reid. How many of us are doing other activities far different from the ones we have been initially ‘trained’? The response is clear, and you have it: robots are trained; people are educated, opening up the world for the students and all involved in the educational relationship. Well done, we need more education and less training!


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