Nobody could argue that we need top more graduates teaching in our classrooms. They have higher expectations and in-depth subject knowledge, and these are of benefit to all students. Top graduates are also the most likely to pursue further study to develop the skills needed to do remedial or gifted education well. So, it’s great that government is considering ways to get more top graduates into teaching in New Zealand.
And that folks, is where my enthusiasm ends! Six week teacher training does not float my boat. Not only will we be putting people in front of classes who have had few or no opportunities to learn teaching skills and behaviour management, but as beginning teachers, these people will be doing two years of “training on the job”. What does that mean? Beginning teachers work long hours, with the high planning load involved in teaching in New Zealand schools. Individualising curriculum is expected here, and it is demanding, time-intensive work. Most teachers already work around 60 hours per week. If “training on the job” means university papers on top of that, this scheme may be setting top people up to fail, through a combination of under-preparedness and fatigue.
We have had fast-track career preparation in various fields before, and there are times when cutting a few corners is expedient. This is not just cutting a few of the corners. It’s cutting all of the corners and most of the road. It is a recipe for disaster, and shows insufficient respect for graduates of the programe and the classes they will teach.
At least there is an election between now and then.