Tag Archives: goals of education

Parsing the Practice of Teaching

 

I (Clare) and Clive both read the most amazing article on teacher education by Mary puzzle_pieces300x199Kennedy. For those who have followed this blog you will know that we are big fans of her work. You will also know that we believe in thinking about teacher education holistically. Trying to break it down in discreet bits misses the core issue- What are the goals of education? I would highly recommend this article to all teacher educators. Below is the Abstract and here is the link to the article. Well worth the read.Mary Kennedy_2016

Abstract:

Teacher education programs typically teach novices about one part of teaching at a time. We might offer courses on different topics—cultural foundations, learning theory, or classroom management—or we may parse teaching practice itself into a set

of discrete techniques, such as core teaching practices, that can be taught individually. Missing from our courses is attention to the ultimate purpose of these discrete parts—how specific concepts can help teachers achieve their goals, or how specific procedures can help them achieve their goals. Because we are now shifting from a focus on bodies of knowledge to a focus on depictions of practice, this article examines our efforts to parse teaching practice into lists of discrete procedures. It argues that we need to pay less attention to the visible behaviors of teaching and more attention to the purposes that are served by those behaviors. As a way to begin a conversation about parsing teachers’ purposes, I offer a proposal for conceptualizing teaching as a practice that entails five persistent problems, each of which presents a difficult challenge to teachers, and all of which compete for teachers’ attention. Viewed in this way, the role of teacher education is not to offer solutions to these problems, but instead to help novices learn to analyze these problems and to evaluate alternative courses of action for how well they address these problems.

Teaching Good Manners: An Aspect of Way of Life Education

I (Clive) appreciated Leah McLaren’s column in the Globe & Mail on Friday. She reported that Tatler editor-in-chief Kate Reardon was recently “pilloried in the British press” for “a graduation speech at a private girls’ school…in which she highlighted the importance of manners over good grades.” Among other things, Reardon said that “if you have good manners people will like you. And if they like you they will help you.” McLaren commented that “as both a feminist and a mother” she agrees with Reardon, but noted that “[w]hen it comes to instilling basic values and good behaviour, parents have never been more on their own.” http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/parenting/the-importance-of-being-courteous/article19661557/

This should not be. Schools should support parents in this basic work (and they do to some extent). As I stressed in a recent posting, way of life (or values) education should be a major component of schooling, integrated into subject teaching and the life of the classroom and school.

The difficulty, however, is that we haven’t articulated a deep and comprehensive theory of way of life education. Advocacy in this area comes across as moralistic or, in the Reardon case, as old fashioned and conformist.

What could be more important than the quality of our way of life, in itself and in relation to others? It’s current neglect by advocates of “coverage” and testing is weird. “Good grades” as the goal of 12 years of schooling is totally inadequate. People should be pilloried for pushing such a position, yet it is so common.

Any goal can seem superficial when advocated in isolation. As educators, we need to develop for students, parents, and the general public a broad rationale for way of life (or values) education in terms of individual and societal happiness and what is ultimately important in life. We should help everyone – ourselves included – to stop fixating on narrow goals to the neglect of general human well-being.