Right Idea, Wrong Application!


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.


About Mary St George

I teach in gifted education, both online and face-to-face.
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4 Responses to Right Idea, Wrong Application!

  1. Susanne says:

    I’ve taught higher ed accelerated courses. I’m about to teach a 4 week speech class (daily classes m-f) I never feel like those are as indepth or far enough reaching, and those are just intro to speech. I cannot imagine a 6 week training course being adequate for anything as important as getting students ready to educate their own students. Just can’t.

  2. It is just mind-boggling, isn’t it?

  3. I used to lecture on a one-year graduate diploma teacher training course and most of the graduates found it really stressful having to learn so much on the job after a year’s training. I shudder to think how a new teacher would cope with only 6 weeks of training. The idea is ridiculous.

  4. Sue Luus says:

    I agree. I know that some research states that teachers of gifted students need a minimum of 16 hours of training to start to make inroads. The Certificate in Gifted Education at UNSW is an 18 month course that is incredibly rigorous. I would never have felt confident enough to teach gifted students without completing that course and even then it is just the tip of the iceberg.

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