Thursday, November 20, 2008

Big Ideas for Education

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I've been following David Warlick's Big Ideas For Education Project over at 2 cents worth and haven't really had a chance to participate. First of all, I think it was a great way to demonstrate collaboration and second, I like thinking of solutions rather than just problems - but you have to know the problems first. So far the issues have been condensed into eight categories. The first one that jumps out at me is

#4: Overhaul teacher education, and policies and procedures for professional development. Now this mainly has to do with the fact I deal with Teacher Education on a daily basis, but I also have the perspective of currently dealing with "revisioioning" our programs.

The major push and pull with all revisioning is "What do we want to do?" vs. "What are the requirements imposed on us by the university, and the state?" As much as I would love for us to just teach what we want and not worry about the regulations of a university or a licensing structure - it is those two items that lend credence to a program. Now many see that as a barrier - and maybe this Big Idea project is supposed to look beyond those barriers, but I think working within these structures is a reality we are faced with.

I am also struck by the way we write ourselves into a corner, that we can't escape afterwards. We know technology will change, we know that 21st Century Skills is just a buzz word and that underlying those concepts are skills that will continue to evolve and build upon. We need to build flexibility into these programs that allow for the eventual change we will encounter.

One of the ideas we are throwing around here is to create a supplemental CEU program. When our students graduate they will be thrown into the world of CEUs for keeping up their license - why not use that same model at the pre-service level. This would allow us to 1) Supplement instruction 2)Stay current 3)Model what students will experience in the "real world"

We are currently coming up with what our model would look like, and how it would be utilized throughout an undergraduates program.

One other note on this project - I did see one comment on having all teachers just have a content undergraduate degree and then get a teaching license afterwards. I struggle with this idea personally. It is hard to say what is more important content or the way you teach the content. I don't think you can be an effective teacher without both. I worry that if you loose too much of the how to teach, we will lose more teachers. I have never meant a teacher that left teaching because they didn't know their content, I have met a good deal that did not feel prepared to teach it.

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