By Dave Cambridge
Many things in life seem two-sided. For instance, the medication we use for a certain health issue, upon further research, always has a number of possible side effect which sometimes can outshine the number of possible benefits. With this in mind let us take a look at the teacher and students as we carry out a minor evaluation of the education revolution.
Records indicate that some years ago within our primary education system there were only four graduate teachers, indicating that most never had a university degree. However, the students who entered secondary school all possessed basic required reading skills and most generally knew their tables: 2 — 12 times. The number of students entering secondary education was much smaller, which can be like the negative side effect of the medication; whereas today most children if not all enter secondary schools. Sadly, many do so without basic reading or mathematical skills. The education revolution, on the part of students, seems to be grounded on the fact that most students will be able to say, I went to secondary school; not necessarily whether they can read or perform basic calculations or possess basic life skills. It is now common to hear teachers say after the release of examination results especially the CCSLC (Caribbean Certificate of Secondary Level Competence) an exam that seemed to be designed for supposedly at risk students, “I know he was not going to make it.” Sadly there are dropouts at secondary schools even 3rd and 4th form with students still unable to read or say their tables. Therefore, let’s turn attention to the teacher.
What would you say matters most in the classroom if you look at it through the eyes of the teacher? What if you look at it through the eyes of the government? Let’s try putting ourselves in the place of the teacher. Is it the quality of the teaching? Possession of a university degree? Size of salary? Well, primary education has seen an influx of graduates in the system, yet it is at this stage, after passing through the hand of many of these graduates, that students entering the secondary school need to be placed in remedial classes. What went wrong? Many teachers jump at the opportunity for a university degree, not necessarily in education but in whatever area may seem to offer the easiest opportunity to obtain a degree. This may then place them in the position of a grade IV or V teacher; well at this point there is no need to obtain a teacher certificate through teacher training because the salary is already beyond that of a trained teacher unless, of course, one aspires for promotion in the educational field, such as becoming a principal or deputy or higher in administration in education.
It is interesting to note that a degree such as a bachelor’s or master’s does not even need to be in the field of education directly related to the teacher’s duties, they simply need to possess the degree to qualify as a grade IV or V teacher. The financial investment may be significant; therefore, indeed they deserve the promotion and remuneration to match the grade. In the secondary classroom, many times, these ones seem to enjoy lecturing or assigning students research work as the gospel instructional methods. Teacher training at the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Community College offers the opportunity to prepare teachers for the early childhood, primary, secondary and technical and vocational education classroom. It is true that my daughters, who were taught by some of these latter ones in some subject areas, describe them as the cool teachers, the ones who add life to the class, who involve them fully in the lessons. It sounds as though some of these latter ones add variety to the classroom or use methods and strategies that capture students’ attention to a greater extent. But through conversation, I learned that following such training, upon being appointed they are appointed as grade III teachers; thus if given the opportunity for teacher training or a bachelor degree; does it not make more sense to kill two birds with one stone and go directly for a bachelor?
I would think that the ideal for those in the classroom instructing our students is to have both teacher training and a bachelor’s or master’s degree, but living amidst financial challenges may limit one to choosing either or; thus if the higher can be attained, why not grab it and settle? As one educator said to me, “It just doesn’t make sense. I am already a teacher V. Why waste more time in training, my grade won’t change.” Well, it sounds reasonable. After all, no matter the quality of classroom instruction there is “no child left behind” as the education act includes “compulsory school age” means from 5 to 16 years of age. That expression “no child left behind” seems to carry a variety of meanings, including being promoted with or without effort until one attain to the age of goodbye.
To become a nurse, you go to nursing school; to become a doctor you go medical school; to become a lawyer you go to law school; to become a pilot go to airline training programme. Ever wondered how many of these become qualified in their field without completing the courses or passing their exams?
To become a graduate teacher you go to… Oh no. Just try toget a degree in something which is available on the market as we sail along in the education revolution. Would we one day increase the incentive for all in the business of education to nurture the desire for teacher training? Maybe then a new direction will be seen in the desired education revolution.
The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected]
The opinions presented in this content belong to the author and may not necessarily reflect the perspectives or editorial stance of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].