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Teaching to teach

Las Cruces Sun-News - Educational failure to thrive

....the problem in education is the use of the factory model of education. It assumes all students are basically the same; all teachers are basically the same and all schools should be the same. Anyone spending time in our schools will know that the factory model doesn't work.

The students, teachers and administrators are all different as can be expected since they are human...That is the secret that the politicians do not get. They want every lesson across America to be the same, every teacher in America teaching the same way and every American child learning in the same way. The standardized tests with No Child Left Behind are the darling of the data people who themselves have never taught.

Tim Worstall on the Adam Smith Blog expands:, Teach First's idea is to take bright graduates, give them a few weeks of training to polish their educational skills and then stick them into bad schools. The schools that they find it very difficult to get fully trained teachers to go to.

On the face of it this seems absurd: for as we're constantly and consistently told, teaching is a profession, one which requires either a full degree in the subject or at minimum a one year post-graduate course after a non-education major degree. How could merely clever people pick it up in weeks?

Quite how well can they? Results from the American equivalent show:

...research on Teach for America that suggests these teachers outperform other starting teachers, and even the more sanguine evidence (eg. work by Jonah Rockoff and coauthors) has Teach for America teachers being no worse.

So we seem to have a situation where an absence of specific training in education produces better educators: or at the very least, ones that are no worse.

An excellent result I think all can agree: the policy implication is therefore clear, make teacher training a 5 or 6 week course, close the vast majority of the educating to educate system, save a great deal of money and possibly improve the education system, or at least leave it no worse.

And remember, we're doing it for the children.

Exactly the whole "teaching to teach profession" is a worthless house of cards, but we have an entrenched compulsory unionised closed shop to ensure its continence. Public schools always used to thrive by just hiring bright minds to teach rather than trained teachers, says it all really.


"take bright graduates, give them a few weeks of training to polish their educational skills and then stick them into bad schools"
it would work better if 'bright graduates' is removed and replaced with 'literate ex-servicemen built like brick outhouses with experience of service, dedication, discipline and training in using extreme violence'
It worked well in the fifties.

The only way to really learn how to teach is to have a group of kids sitting in front of you. Teacher training courses are an absolute pile of rubbish and you barely learn anything on the course itself, from what I hear.

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