Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Changes in Teacher Quality

“Between 1983 and 2003, the average percentile rank of those entering teacher education fell from 74 to 61, while the average rank of new teachers fell from 70 to 62.”
How and Why has Teacher Quality Changed in Australia? is a study by Andrew Leigh and Chris Ryan that has received considerable publicity in the shock-jock media and when I asked my writing workshop class to reflect on their blogs about teaching and learning (in a similar way to the Year 8 English class I asked the same questions of yesterday) I found that Kate had reflected on this report.

“To be a good teacher I think that they would have to have: the right amount of knowledge about what they’re trying to teach, because yesterday on Today Tonight I found out that the standard of teacher knowledge has dropped significantly, which is appalling and now after less than a generation ago Australia was regarded as one of the smartest countries in the world, and now it is 11th in science and 14th in mathematics. This makes me incredibly angry, that we could have slipped so far when we have all these resources at our fingertips.”

There is a lot to discuss here about critical literacy which we will, of course, but it is interesting that the findings of the report are not, however, publicised to the same extent in any of these media.
“We believe that both the fall in average teacher pay, and the rise in pay differentials in non-teaching occupations are responsible for the decline in the academic aptitude of new teachers over the past two decades.”
I don’t know how many current teachers would say that they were working for the salary; rather I think the ones that stay are there for less tangible benefits but benefits none the less. In looking at this class’s reflections there is the usual wish list for teachers that are fair and fun but also something I didn’t expect to be there as much, and that is a respct for the job that teachers are doing.There’s quite a lot of understanding expressed as well as humour:
“There isn’t just one type of good teacher, and I think that’s what makes a teacher good, they aren’t the same as all other teachers, and the experiences that you have in your classes with your maths teacher are different to those that you have with your R.E teacher. A good teacher is individual…and sometimes they give lollies…"
Keep dreaming, Annie!

1 comment:

  1. It seems that there's been a fair bit of teacher-bashing going on in the media lately, but I get the impression that most ordinary people respect us. Everyone I talk to about what I do comments on how hard the job must be. Admittedly I've had one "why can't you teach my kid to spell" diatribe, but even this person still acknowledged that he could never be a teacher for all the money in the world (which I think says something else about the teacher salary issue). I've decided, after something I heard in the news recently, that if anyone ever does challenge me about my useless intellect, I'll just respond with "at least I can spell 'definitely'!" Even if I can't identify which historical figure is in that painting I've seen in a couple of papers recently.