“In learning you will teach, and in teaching you will learn.”
― Phil Collins
Suddenly, there is a plethora of teacher training programs. Yes, the training of teachers has become fashionable! Imagine that!! (As we say in Nigerian parlance; let me shake tables in the education sector today!)
The key area in the development of teachers in majority of these seminars is building welcoming and respectful school climates and classrooms and not on enhancing student learning.
This is in my humble opinion is the crux of the matter, we have forgotten that the purpose of education is the end user which are the students. In these seminars, the emphasis is on the pedagogy (methods by which teachers teach), driving home the message that the basic and fundamental competences of the teacher are to teach, to mold students mostly in academic matters and to assess their conceptual understanding.
However, when I look closely at these competencies, the emphasis is on ‘understanding’ is a shallow one. These teacher trainings dwell upon knowing what, knowing how and wanting to do, which are essential in this training process. Yet, we forget what a huge role the outside world (beyond the walls of school) have upon the type of human beings that the teachers are; their worldview, the meaning of life, their guiding beliefs, their underlying paradigms, and ultimately their skills in being able to create meaningful human relationships with students – has not been tackled with the precision and prominence that such training demands.
All over the world, it is accepted that education accomplishes a social function that trains individual skills to perform to the benefit of society in general (human capital), and of skills, attitudes and dispositions to relate to others with respect (social intelligence).
A superior education is one that forms decent people with ethical values and are respectful of others. Yet for education to progress towards the central achievement of these goals, it has a great obstacle to reach towards. When we compare the roles of various professionals, we see that doctors are only expected to tend to their patients; there is no requirement for them to improve their patients morals; the same with engineers; they are only expected to build infrastructures that stand the test of time. The CEO of a company is required to increase the value of the shares of the company and the wealth of its owners but has no demands about the morals of the employees.
The demands of these occupations are in line with the training they got for their professions. In contrast, for educators, in their training the emphasis is placed on disciplinary, pedagogical and didactic knowledge. Potential educators are taught, according to their subject areas; mathematics, chemistry, physics, language, or whatever aligns with the degree they graduate with.
Yet when an educator begins to teach, they are required to ensure that their students learn subjects they are assigned to teach (hopefully been trained to teach), they must also influence their students to become decent human beings.
I have serious misgivings about this. Are the teachers trained with the capacity to raise decent human beings as asked for?
Moving forward, what are the necessary lessons that we must teach educators so that they can build the integral formation of students?
Right now, from my personal observations and experiences our school environments are centered on obedience, discipline and fear. This make it hard to structure alternative learning environments.
This necessitates the need for revamping of the seminars for teachers. Now that is the real work as it means a flipping of mindsets and that is another article for another day.
Adetola Salau; Educator / Speaker / Author/ Social Entrepreneur / Innovator
She is an Advocate of STEM Education and is Passionate about Education reform. She is an innovative thinker and strives for our society & continent as a whole to reclaim it’s greatness. She runs an educational foundation with the mission to transform education.