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Teacher education is an issue from KG to PhD

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The New Indian Express |  By S Vaidhyasubramaniam |  25th June 2016 |

There is overabundance of information on the World Wide Web on job interviews. Let me begin with my recent interviewing experience with a reader-audience like this mindful of the variety required. In an interview for the teacher education programme, a faculty with more than five years of experience in teaching mathematics could not spell ‘hypotenuse’. The scary part was that the candidate with a degree in education was close to writing it as ‘hypnotise’, mesmerising the interview panel. Moral: It is not only a right angle problem but also a wrong vocabulary problem.  In an interview to select faculty for engineering programme, a candidate with a master’s degree in engineering and reasonable teaching experience instead of answering basic questions started giving reasons for non-answering—“not handling the subject now, did not study in our syllabus, not prepared for this part alone, studied in UG, etc”. Moral: Basic questions are too hot for many post-graduates cooling their heels to use a teaching job as a springboard for an alternate career jump.

In an interview to select fresh PhDs, a request to use the white board and take a class for five minutes, was met with, “I am a PhD and would like to join as director or head of department and not teach,” from a 30-year old. Unable to recover from the shock still, the panel was flummoxed with the desire from young PhDs to occupy glamorous positions in colleges that require such ceremonial plug-ins. Moral: An institutional’s shaky foundation is camouflaged by its deceptive ‘design’atory decorations.   The UNESCO Institute for Statistics and Education for All released the Global Monitoring report on World Teacher’s Day in 2014. The report highlighted the massive shortage of teachers at primary level and the chronic teaching level deficiencies which when unattended will continue to deny the right to education for millions. The 2015 goalpost to achieve Universal Primary Education (UPE) shifted to 2020 or 2030 still poses a greater challenge. To achieve UPE by 2020, countries will need to recruit a total of 12.6 million teachers —2.4 million new positions and replacement of 10.2 million teachers expected to leave due to attrition. By 2030, the demand would rise to 27.3 million teachers (3.4 + 23.9).

The Teacher Eligibility Test is an entry test to the profession. Also needed is a mechanism to polish the rust and create new shiny teachers through student outcome-based teacher education and training programmes. Likewise, for engineering colleges, massification of post-graduate engineering education needs to be calibrated by a massive postgraduate programme. This should be made an attractive degree for technical education as teachers with sound under-graduate knowledge and inputs on how to teach will better those with fancy postgraduate degrees. On the PhD front, young faculty need to realise that PhD is a licence to conduct research whose quality byproduct is teaching. This thought process needs to be impregnated in the minds of young PhD graduates who need to take up teaching as a knowledge creation and sharing profession than a pre-requisite for a jumbo-sized administrative career. The MHRD proposal to start teacher education universities is a welcome move and universities offering teacher education programmes should reorient their strategies to address a plethora of teacher education issues across the spectrum—from KG to PhD.  –   The Author is Dean, Planning & Development, SASTRA University –  vaidhya@sastra.edu  :  Courtesy


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