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Teacher Training: Plumber's Apprenticeship?


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#16 neil mcdonald

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Posted 27 January 2004 - 08:27 AM

Q) How did the first healers begin their work? There has to be a moment at which somebody decided to do something.
Bernard Woolley: Have the countries in alphabetical order? Oh no, we can't do that, we'd put Iraq next to Iran.

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Bernard Woolley: That's one of those irregular verbs, isn't it? I give confidential security briefings. You leak. He has been charged under section 2a of the Official Secrets Act.

#17 gav

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Posted 27 January 2004 - 01:26 PM

[quote name='John Simkin' date='Jan 23 2004, 07:01 AM']My advice to any PGCE student is to first develop a philosophy of education (one of the things that disturbs me is the large number of students who donít seem to have one). Then find a successful teacher in the school who appears to share your philosophy. Then ask them if you can observe some of their lessons. If they refuse, they were not the right person to ask in the first place.[/quote]
[QUOTE]

Surely a person's philosphy of education comes from their philosphy towards life in general. You point out that many new teachers dont seem to have a philosophy of education any more. I agree. But this is because of the lower standard of many new teachers coming in to the profession. Of course I'm not knocking NQTs as a whole - there are still many fantastic teachers coming into the profession. What is depressing is seeing the sheer incompetence, lack of initiative, cynicism, unprofessionalism, and lack of basic skills among many NQTs. This brings me back to my point. The government needs to attract better teachers - not simply more teachers. However, for this government, the two terms are interchangeable.

To base training purely in schools is ineffective. Students need the support and advice that an outside body can give them - from tutors and fellow students.

I take the point that the academic side of the PGCE may appear more useful later on in a teacher's career. But it doesn't matter how much educational philosphy you read; if you cant teach, you cant teach.

#18 Guest_andy_walker_*

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Posted 27 January 2004 - 01:35 PM

if you cant teach, you cant teach.

I disagree with this statement most strongly. Granted some take to teaching alot quicker and more naturally than others. However the knowledge and skills of the teacher are in the large part something that can be studied and learnt.... nobody springs from the womb with chalk in hand :teacher:

#19 John Simkin

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Posted 27 January 2004 - 01:58 PM

[quote name='gav' date='Jan 27 2004, 01:26 PM'] [quote name='John Simkin' date='Jan 23 2004, 07:01 AM']
My advice to any PGCE student is to first develop a philosophy of education (one of the things that disturbs me is the large number of students who donít seem to have one). Then find a successful teacher in the school who appears to share your philosophy. Then ask them if you can observe some of their lessons. If they refuse, they were not the right person to ask in the first place.

[/quote]
[QUOTE]

Surely a person's philosphy of education comes from their philosphy towards life in general. You point out that many new teachers dont seem to have a philosophy of education any more. I agree. But this is because of the lower standard of many new teachers coming in to the profession. [/quote]
Surely one of the purposes of education is to encourage students to think deeply about the subject. This is where the philosophy comes from (although a personís life experiences plays a role in this).

Andy is right to say that good teachers are not born but made. Personality plays a role in this but the ability to teach is mainly a learnt skill.

I am rather surprised by the level of criticism about the standard of PGCE students. I have observed a slight decline in standards, but not to the extent you seem to have experienced.

#20 Helen S

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Posted 28 January 2004 - 09:45 AM

There seems to be a lot of criticism of PGCE students and us folks in our NQT year.

I can only speak for myself but I have worked ever so hard this year and find it rather irritating when current recruits are referred to as inadequate.

Granted some may not survive and leave the profession BUT for those who do make it- don't we deserve support instead of hearing how "standards have dropped?"
Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe.
H. G. Wells

#21 Guest_andy_walker_*

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Posted 28 January 2004 - 11:03 AM

There seems to be a lot of criticism of PGCE students and us folks in our NQT year.

I can only speak for myself but I have worked ever so hard this year and find it rather irritating when current recruits are referred to as inadequate.

Granted some may not survive and leave the profession BUT for those who do make it- don't we deserve support instead of hearing how "standards have dropped?"

The debate is actually about how short changed new teachers and trainees are by new "school based" models of training. It is not a criticism of those being trained.

#22 alison denton

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Posted 28 January 2004 - 07:39 PM

The history course here (at Swansea) always receives more applications than places so the standard is reasonably high

History trainees at Swansea have always had an excellent reputation here in Wales, due in very large measure to the superb and forward thinking tuition of the late and very much missed Rob Phillips, whose influence lives on in hundreds of History classrooms in the Principality and beyond.

As far as the main debate is concerned - the training of teachers should be (as with one's diet) balanced, I think.

School experience is obviously vital, but HAS TO BE underpinned with an understanding of the academic too, if only to enable the teacher to grow with the role, otherwise one is in danger of becoming reactive instead of pro-active, and system led.

I even think the 'history of education' lectures have their place, in terms of putting what we have in education now into some sort of socio-political framework, and providing reference points for judging future developments.

The most vital thing for me though is a really good school based mentor, and unfortunately no-one values them highly enough. No extra frees, certainly no extra money etc. In that sense, the training of teachers really IS done on the cheap.

#23 gav

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Posted 29 January 2004 - 10:33 AM

if you cant teach, you cant teach.

I disagree with this statement most strongly. Granted some take to teaching alot quicker and more naturally than others. However the knowledge and skills of the teacher are in the large part something that can be studied and learnt.... nobody springs from the womb with chalk in hand :teacher:

My point was not that you are born able to teach but that the priority should be put on enabling teachers to find their feet in a classroom. Surely this is more important than fully developing an educational philosophy. Every year, despite their teaching practice, NQTs are thrown into the lions' den of a virtually full timetable. Many struggle incredibly. Part of this is due to lack of practice in the classroom - they are still unaware of just how tough the job is. It is much easier for a teacher with decades of experience and a well developed educational philosphy to comment on the lack of it in new teachers today. For many, mere survival their aim.

Perhaps a two-year PGCE is one solution this would also deter the less committed (many PGCE students dont even intend to go in to teaching.) Oh but that would cost money.

As i said before, i wasn't giving a blanket criticism of NQTs and as we all know, the best teachers also happen to be History teachers.

#24 Mark Cottingham

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Posted 02 February 2004 - 04:04 PM

Very interesting discussion. I think everybody with a real interest in high quality teacher education is dismayed by the competency based approach and the 'plumber' model of on the job training. I started teaching on the PGCE at Leeds in Septemebr and was immediately faced with the problem of how to combine solid theoretical grounding with practical support for first teaching practice, all in about 50 hours of contact time! I quickly had to cut my preferred programme to meet the tiny amount of time we have in Uni.
The best I can do is introuduce key theory and hope it is followed up. I think the suggestion of a 2 year course is the only way around this but is so unlikely its not even worth discussing. Certainly the most reflective and knowledgable teachers I know are primary teachers who completed a 4 year BEd.
However, I don't think many of our students would recognise the notion of a theory lecture - surely all pgce seminars are models of good classroom practice by being interactive sessions - or is that wishful thinking?

#25 Rob Jones

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Posted 05 February 2004 - 09:06 AM

I'm a director with one of the largest Designated Recommending Bodies for the GTP, so I'm afraid I couldn't ignore this debate. I also work with HEIs on their PGCE programmes so am in quite a good position to compare and contrast.

Both routes are assessed in the same way by the TTA; according to the standards for Qualified Teacher Status. PGCE courses, with the exception of maybe 2 or 3, are much more practically based than they used to be, and therefore more akin to employment based routes now anyway, so the argument that they are much more cerebral than other routes into teaching is largely invalid now. This is probably true of many university courses actually.

The biggest advantage that GTPs have over PGCEs is age and experience. In our city we have 105 GTP trainees, many of whom have an awesome amount of experience in other jobs and in what they have done to date. What is variable from school to school is the quality of mentoring, and we have a responsibility to train these mentors and help to deliver CPD to trainees and mentors. Comparing the quality of teaching from trainees in both routes into teaching makes interesting reading. The percentage of lessons judged to be very good or excellent was very much higher in work related routes than in PGCE last term, with the exception of the OTT (Overseas Trained Teacher scheme). This was from around 250 trainees in the city. My own experience of observing and training GTPs is that the intuitive grasp of teaching principles is vastly superior to the average PGCE trainee. A simple comparison of evidence files at the end of the year reveals that GTPs collect a vast amount of data, photographs, contributions to journals, website development, presentations, video etc. from their year in teaching that simply isn't generally there in PGCE files. Of course there are a few really excellent trainees that come up the PGCE route, but I would say that their skills are really developed in the NQT year rather than ITT year.

The lower age limit for GTP was abolished in January, so we may see the age and experience advantage of employment based routes changing a little. Like John, I went through a very academic PGCE course which didn't personally suit me at all. The way I see it is you get one poxy year to learn the principles of arguably one of the most demanding and stressful professions. 17 years later, I still can't help feeling anger with Leeds University for wasting so much of my time in that year on utterly useless lectures on Butler and the 1944 Education Act when they could have been preparing me for my inevitable ritual slaughter at the hands of Bradford youths. Mark - I'm sure it's changed at Leeds now!

Someone said it is a cheap way to train teachers. Well, yes it is I suppose. We get £6000 per trainee to cover everything including supply for mentors to observe and mentor for the year. The funding formula for HEIs is not done on a per trainee basis but nevertheless this is a lot less than they get.

Edited by Rob Jones, 05 February 2004 - 09:11 AM.


#26 neil mcdonald

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Posted 05 February 2004 - 09:32 AM

I think that this debate over the training of teachers is really a baiting situation. Of ocurse different routes into education have different strengths and weaknesses. I agree totally that the education you get in the ITT whether GTP or PGCE etc is only a first step, a foundation to the experience you get in the development of your overall teaching career.
Bernard Woolley: Have the countries in alphabetical order? Oh no, we can't do that, we'd put Iraq next to Iran.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Bernard Woolley: That's one of those irregular verbs, isn't it? I give confidential security briefings. You leak. He has been charged under section 2a of the Official Secrets Act.

#27 Guest_andy_walker_*

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Posted 05 February 2004 - 12:03 PM

I think that this debate over the training of teachers is really a baiting situation.

Which is where you would be wrong of course. It is a serious debate over the quality and content of school based training over University based training.

I have no doubt that the GTP scheme if run properly offers opportunity for older entrants to train more easily. But the debate is really about what should go into a teacher training course. I see precious little academic input in any of the school based programmes and believe that at best they will produce classroom operatives rather than thinking professionals.

Are we really saying that it doesn't matter if you don't know anything about the history, sociology and psychology of education?

#28 neil mcdonald

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Posted 05 February 2004 - 12:17 PM

What I am saying is that training cannot possibly be done in a year. I did my pgce and took in very little of the academic stuff I was taught. What worked well for me was the practical stuff rather than the theory, but that is not the case now. Now, I am really alot more focused on the theories of educational issues. It is not because I have suddenly du out my PGCE notes but because of the inset I have been provided with. I think that any course that provides student teachers with the ability to teach and know they they are on a steep learning curve that does not stop until they retire is a good course.

But here is the question, does the history of education relly affect how a teacher teaches? I am sure that the history of education is an interesting topic and worthy of discussion as to how it has shaped educational policy/ thinking but, I think a forum for GTP members to contribute to discussions could offer a distance learning option as opposed to the classroom/lecture theatre.
Bernard Woolley: Have the countries in alphabetical order? Oh no, we can't do that, we'd put Iraq next to Iran.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Bernard Woolley: That's one of those irregular verbs, isn't it? I give confidential security briefings. You leak. He has been charged under section 2a of the Official Secrets Act.

#29 clare_h

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Posted 09 February 2004 - 09:51 AM

An interesting debate.
There is some implicit arrogance in assuming a heavily theoretical approach is somehow better than a practical one. :blink:
In my position working in FE witha PGCE (Iremember nothing of use in theory; plenty that I draw on in practice) and now running CFET (initial teacher training courses) for plumbers and the like my obseravtion would be that most have their own ideas of eduactional philosophy. For most these are found within and are the reason why they have left often better paying professions to work in the world of eduaction Theory without understanding or practical application has very little use to anyone. However at the same time we must understand rationales behind issues such as assessment and have access to a range of taeching and learning styles, methods and resources.
As always as educators we are striving to find a balance- individual needs are different- we will never get it right. Perhpas a commitment to embedding reflection, a willingness in all teachers to laean and try new things and support and continuing professuonal development opportunities are as good as we will get.
:) Clare

#30 Guest_andy_walker_*

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Posted 09 February 2004 - 10:55 AM

An interesting debate.
There is some implicit arrogance in assuming a heavily theoretical approach is somehow better than a practical one.  :blink:

I would have to counter that this "arrogance" is entirely inferred
No one is suggesting a heavy theoretical emphasis is more desirable than the "pick up thy chalk and teach" approach currently so fashionable. Both are imbalanced. My point was that the balance had swung far too far away from the theoretical approach.

Thus far posters have suggested that the main reason for this has been economic (its relatively cheap to "train" teachers in schools). Perhaps there is also some substance in the view that the swing away from theory has had just as much to do with politicians distrust of both the educational establishment and their desire to have a profession less inclined to answer back.




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