Entry to Teaching

As a person who has, during my career, both taught and was connected to schools in another capacity, I feel a need to comment on the uproar about “the low mark” required to get into a teaching degree.

There are two questions here. Do we need teachers in the school population to be extremely standardised to those who have always found learning easy? Or do we need different types or teachers throughout the whole school system?

The thought that very good, attentive students, often girls who have loved learning and have never put a foot wrong at school, should be the sort of people to who make up the body of teachers is quite worrying. We need a range of teachers. Some need to know what makes the inattentive students’ minds wander. Some need know the delightful feeling of confronting authority. Some need to admire having fun rather than having one’s head in information most of the day. And some need to know how students who find it hard to learn feel. I felt I was a much better teacher in areas that were not my real strength.

But most seriously of all, I personally think teachers can be better teachers if they have experienced a bit of life somewhere other than school.

Some of the best teachers I have known have come from other backgrounds. They know about the big wide world that is not school. Of course some students who want to enter teaching may have had part time jobs along the way. This provides some valuable experience.

Those who come to teaching later have, of course, always been welcome and usually make great teachers. But for those who want to study teaching straight out of school I think they should all study a first year which includes no commitment at all to education. A first year of a generalised Arts or Science degree, for example, could be a starting point to make the application to a teaching course. They have then seen some of their other options, other styles of learning, met different sorts of other students. While this does not provide world experience such as another job does, or a gap year does, it might be helpful for a prospective young teacher straight from school.

In the dark ages when I was studying, Education 1 was a second year subject. It had to follow either first year Psychology or first year Philosophy, both very useful stand alone subjects for a prospective teacher.

It is not lower a University admission standard that is the real problem. It is lack of experiences other than education when anyone, of any standard, decides to move into a teaching degree straight from school.


About Anne Powles

I am retired from paid employment. During my working life I have been variously and sometimes contemporaneously, wife, mother of four, lawyer, teacher and psychologist. I have also been a serial education junkie. As are we all, I have been an observer of the world around me. Here I have recorded some of my memories, observations and theorisings.
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