TEACHER EDUCATORS CAN ONLY IMPROVE TEACHER QUALITY

 

S.P. Malhotra

 

 

INTRODUCTION

The very fact that teaching is a profession entails that teaching is a specialized activity for which specialized knowledge/ training is required through specialized institutions. A good institution will produce individuals who will be devoted to the profession and make their mark in the activities organized by them while going to the field. If examples with respect to engineering and medical institutions in India and abroad are considered, one will agree that the onus of getting good teachers lies on the institution that prepares the professionals. Further the institutions alone do not matter much; it is the teachers in the institutions who produce desired individuals. Teacher educators are responsible for producing quality teachers. Harvey (1993) and Atwood (2007) point out that Quality processes tend to focus on ‘core’ aspects of education such as learning-teaching and course organization. In other words teacher educators’ way of organizing theoretical framework, practical sessions and skills development programme affect the future teachers. The activities suggested during training are carried to the classroom teaching in the schools. Researchers like McAffrey et.al. (2003), Rivkin et.al. (2005) and Rockoff (2004) found that teachers have a significant impact on the achievement of the students. However, research studies are jejune to provide answer to the question if the teacher educators directly affect the teachers’ classrooms behaviour or management of activities in the schools. Reasons for this could be many.

 

Teacher educators have never taken the aspect of professionalism very seriously. They have been criticizing the process of teacher education rather than providing answer to problem faced by them. However, NCTE was established in 1993 by the Act of parliament to give the tinge of professionalism to teacher preparation programme. Unfortunately instead of mending the system it caused some damage to the programme of teacher education. Obvious reason was lack of insight on the part of teacher educators to provide a good model of teacher education. Till date they have not been able to envision a good model of teacher education programme. Existing teacher education problems were further aggravated by the privatization of teacher education institutions. Teacher educators never accepted the private enterprise in teacher education programme though they had been party in recognizing the private teacher education institutions (through NCTE) for the sake of fringe benefits bestowed by the private players. The situation deteriorated to such an extent that at particular time a committee was constituted by the Ministry of Human resource Development to scrap the regulatory body of teacher education (NCTE). The situation was saved after a great hue and cry made by some right thinking teacher educators to reverse the decision. The developments like these have made it mandatory for the teacher educators to put their heads together and give a little thinking to their role in the changed set up under Liberalization, Privatization and Globalization. 

 

CONTRIBUTION OF TEACHER EDUCATORS

The teacher educators have much to contribute to the development of quality amongst the teachers. It is high time that they understand their role rather than simply criticize the system in the name of NCTE. If they do not contribute, they will move from the current marginalized status to the one of irrelevance. They will have to respond at both conceptual/empirical and pedagogical levels (Liston et.al. 2008).

The first and foremost thing is that they will have to accept the existing realities of the world. Privatization has entered educational system and they cannot deny it at any cost. A large number of men and women aspire to get degree or diplomas in teacher education to join teaching or jobs similar to teaching. The existing teacher education colleges or the University departments of education cannot accommodate all the aspirants. The nation at such a juncture will have to depend on private participation in education system of the country. Further the Mass Education does not Necessarily Mean the End of Quality. Simply harping on the tune of deterioration of standards due to the gap in demand and supply will not serve any purpose. Teacher education programme in India has never been based on demand and supply phenomenon. There has always been a good number of participants who never joined teaching after earning a degree or diploma in education. It has generally been observed that objective of many women in getting admission to teacher education programme has been to earn a certificate for future employment. Many women join teaching even after a decade of getting professional degree in wake of their personal or family problems. In such a situation there is a need to draft teacher education courses that have totally specialized knowledge, specialized skills and inherent code of ethics. It can be done by having good theoretical base. Instead of depending on Philosophy, psychology or such other subjects they should bring up a body of knowledge that the future teachers start philosophizing or thinking psychologically to find solution to their classroom problems. Also the teacher educators should start devising the knowledge akin to the discipline of education. For example over the years the education has developed its own vocabulary like learning styles, thinking skills etc.

 

Secondly, the teacher educators will have to delve on specialized skills that add quality to the professional functioning. Such skills mean having hard, technical expertise along with softer interpersonal capabilities. Skills of quality teaching and quality assessment are most desired. Quality teaching skills involve the process of making students work hard and become independent learner. For example posing a problem before the learners and helping them find solutions to these problems is a skill and such skills need to be developed in the teacher trainees. Similarly the teacher trainees have to be trained in quality assessment procedure. This type of assessment requires the trainees to assess the students with respect to their thinking process and learning styles. In the same manner, the skills related to feed back have to be developed amongst future teachers so that the feedback is accepted open mindedly by the students and they improve upon.  

 

Thirdly teacher educators should envision functions other than teaching by making teacher education degree/ diploma broad based with respect to changing times. Many dimensions with specializations will have to be added since the future teaching will not be limited to classroom teaching alone. Students will not depend upon teachers to seek knowledge about subject matter. They will be finding better transmitter of knowledge in media. However, they will not be able to negate the teachers. They will require help of the teachers to solve their day-to-day learning or behavioural problems. The students who will not be able to have access to schools will look for teachers get self learning material to suit their learning styles. Not only students, even the parents of the students will seek indulgence of teachers in achieving their aspired goals. Above all the future schools will be having trauma centres on their campus and will depend upon teachers’ skills to solve various issues related to behavioural problems of students. All such issues cannot be ignored by the teacher education programme if it has to suit the demands of the society. Therefore teacher educators will have to design course curricula to accommodate such functions of the teachers. Specializations like Public Relationing, Parent Counseling, Behavioural Therapy, Developing e-learning material etc. will have to be included in the course curricula of teacher education. All such dimensions have to be added to the teacher education courses if these courses have to exist in the future. Otherwise there is very likelihood that these courses will loose their credibility to the global societal needs.

 

Fourthly, the whole nature and process of teacher education will have to be worked out differently. Existing teacher education programme is divided in to different academic papers and sections. Usually the academic papers are Principles of Education and Educational Psychology etc. While teaching these courses, the teacher educators emphasize information aspect only (having no relevance to classroom teaching or school problems). The student teachers are never taught ‘how to use the information for solving problems related to school education in general and teaching in particular’. Keeping in view the limitations of discipline oriented approach the teacher educators should visualize Problem oriented approach. A comprehensive list of various problems faced by various functionaries be developed through field based working. The student teachers should be asked to find out workable solutions to the problems. The purpose of teacher education should be development of problem solving skills rather than imparting knowledge alone. This is possible by having flexible, experience based, process oriented teacher education programme; wherein the student teachers are trained in analyzing the problem, developing hypotheses, collecting relevant data and drawing conclusions. Later the student teachers discuss these conclusions with large group to work on the solutions in simulated set up. Such a Project based teacher education programme will help in establishing credibility of teacher education programme. Let the apex institution like NCTE work with a vision to metamorphose the existing teacher education programme.

 

Fifthly, the teacher educators will have to organize their research as per the needs of the society and the market forces. Liston et.al. (2008) in his editorial pointed out that “Teacher quality research emerges from different conceptual lenses, some less familiar to educators (e.g., labour economies). It is important to grasp varied theories of action implied and to analyze assumptions and values in different research designs.” To put it in simpler words, it connotes that research process and research problems in education should be such that these solve societal problems from different angles. For example the society in India at present is being faced with problems like violence by schools students, sex linked problems at primary stage, aspiration of parents that their child should lead the class in every activity, going for tuitions even at pre-primary level, etc. The answer to such problems is not simple. It involves knowledge of sociology, psychology as well as economics. The teacher educators need to get all essential knowledge to take up the issue and find workable solutions. After all it is the teacher educators who teach about the nature of the child and work directly in the field. 

 

CONCLUSION

In short it is suggested that instead of criticizing or finding faults with the Apex body of teacher education (NCTE), let the teacher educators work with a vision and extend helping hand to the NCTE. The objective of the NCTE is to produce quality teachers. Since the NCTE does not have its own staff, it depends totally on the services rendered by teacher educators employed in the Universities and colleges. Also the personnel heading NCTE belong to us. They had been part of the Universities or colleges. The major question is – should we criticize our colleagues because all of us are unable to visualize and perform our own role? The role of teacher educators today is to mend the existing system with vision to help teacher education grow as a profession and produce quality teachers for schools.

 

REFERENCES

Attwood, R., (2007, December 7) Social life on wish list. Times Higher Education Supplement, Available online www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp.

Harvey, L. (1993) Total student experience. In Harvey, L. (Ed.) Quality Assessment in Higher Education: Collected papers of QHE Project, pp. 101-116. University of Central England, Birmingham.

Liston, D.; Borko, H.; & Whitcomb, J. (2008) The teacher educator’s role in enhancing teacher quality - Editorial. Journal of Teacher Education 59, 2, 111-115

McCaffrey, D.F.; Lockwood, J. R.; Koretz, D., Louis, T.A. & Hamilton, L. (2004)Modes of value added modeling of teacher effects.  Journal of Educational and Behavioral Statistics 29, 1, 67-101.

Rivkin, S.G.; Hanushek, E. A. and Kain, J.F. (2005) Teachers, schools and academic achievement. Econometrica, Econometric Society 73, 2, 417-458.

Rockoff, J.E., (2004) The impact of individual teachers on student achievement: evidence from panel data. American Economic Review  94, 2,  247-252.