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Bruno: Even Ed Schools Don't Always Care About Teacher Prep

213085702_8d5e812d9d_nEducation Secretary Arne Duncan's complaint that universities often don't prioritize teacher preparation is a bit of straight talk that struck a chord with me when Alexander highlighted it last week.

In fact, my experience suggests that Duncan may be understating the problem.

I'd go so far as to say that even schools of education themselves sometimes fail to prioritize teacher preparation.

At least this was the case with my own credentialing program.

Of the many courses we were required to take, virtually none were taught by senior, tenured, or tenure-track faculty members.

Many such faculty members were ostensibly affiliated with the teacher training programs, but they were interested primarily in research and interacted with us mostly to the extent that helped them with their own projects.

This isn't to say that we'd have received better instruction had our courses been taught by the permanent faculty. Indeed, it's entirely probable that their relative indifference to teaching and teacher training would have translated into inferior experiences for us.

Lack of engagement on the part of senior faculty, however, is indicative of institutional apathy. And it's hard not to wonder whether we'd have had a better preparation experience if the entire school of education had been organized more around training teachers and less around research for its own sake.

Education research is good and many of my instructors were, in fact, very dedicated to teacher training. And my experiences may not generalize in any case.

Still, if we think teacher training can be improved it's worth asking whether the problem of prioritizing them doesn't run even deeper than Arne Duncan thinks. If education schools themselves don't adequately prioritize teacher preparation, it's hard to see how we're going to get universities as a whole to do so.

- PB (@MrPABruno) (image source)


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