Breaking the mold – Who’s teaching the Teachers?

It is often said that the new pre-service teachers are coming into the education system with the passion and desire to be fantastic innovative teachers, as we all were when we began our teaching careers. We were fresh, excited and keen to prove our worth. Many of us worked extremely long hours to provide the opportunities for the students that came naturally to the teachers with may more years experience.

When I started teaching back in 2007 I found myself doubting my ability to keep up the motivation to return every day. I soon became exhausted and contacting my university lecturers & colleagues for support. I was wondering how I could ever come into such an important role in society feeling so under prepared. I still reflect upon this when I am working with new teachers. I wonder if they also feel so under prepared.

I was having a conversation about this with a pre-service teacher recently who was on her final placement before graduating. We had worked together for several weeks and developed a great rapport. We were talking about the lecturers at her University and compared them to the Lecturers who were teaching when I went through Uni. Although we studied in different states and about 13 years after my graduation the feeling between us was the same.

“How can anyone know what we need to teach students for their future? Our world is changing too fast and we can only guess what the students’ will need to know and hope the skills of learning to learn are embedded along the way to ensure they can find the most accurate and appropriate information when they need it.” 

The lecturers of today must instill this in pre-service teachers. I have always had the belief that to teach someone you must have a sound grasp of the concept yourself first. Thus, with all due respect and admiration for our universities and the lecturers, I believe we must reinvigorate teaching and learning at the university level by developing more diverse and innovative delivery methods to encompass the modern learner and future students.

I believe that the vast majority of University lecturers for education have not taught at the primary or secondary level for quite some years and have, to some degree misunderstand how current students learn and interact, with each other, their learning, the environment, and their teachers. This is supported in Dan Haesler’s 2011 report quoting Steve Biddulph‘s remarks that

According to a federal government report in 2008, the average age of teachers in Australia is 43. A professor of teacher education at the University of Sydney, Robyn Ewing, believes this is a barrier to the effective use of technology in education.

 My concern is that if so many university lecturers are struggling to bring themselves into the modern day of technology, social networking and learning. How can our pre-service teachers present this and the teach students to learn through the progressive processes of technology, interactive, online networking, world wide collaboration, and filtering accurate information?

Until the change can be made completely and thoroughly at the higher education level, pre-service courses are rewritten to accommodate the new way of learning, and the recognition of need for new teaching methodologies eventuates, we will continue to provide a disservice to our students and young people. I am not saying at all that University lecturers are all behind the times and need to change, just that teaching today is different to teaching 10, 15, 20 years ago. We need to realise technology has a vital role to play in education, for both students and teachers. Innovative university lecturers like Alec Couros who encourage the use of new technologies and social media and networking, is only one such example of many. i’m sure who do integrate these technologies into their courses. The unfortunate fact is that these innovators are few and far between.

It is unfortunate that in our world of networks, connectivity and mobility that students in the primary and secondary environments are restricted to the theory of teaching from decades before.

  • How can we embrace the knowledge of our more senior University lecturers whilst developing innovative teachers and learning in our schools?