For Thought

In his essay “An Uneasy Relationship: The History of Teacher Education in the University,” David F. Labaree of Stanford University writes the following. The bold portions are my own emphases:

Teaching is therefore a very difficult form of professional practice, which makes teacher preparation equally difficult. Complicating this challenge, however, is the general perception that teaching is actually easy. As Dan Lortie (1975) has explained and generations of teacher educators continually rediscover, one reason for this perception is that teaching is extraordinarily visible. We all undergo a 12-year apprenticeship of observation in the elementary and secondary classroom, watching teachers on the job. Compared to our knowledge about other professions, whose work we encounter only occasionally and whose workings we see only obliquely, we think we really know what teaching is all about: maintaining order, asking questions, grading tests, assigning work. As a result, prospective teachers think they know how to teach before entering teacher education programs, which allows little authority or esteem for these programs. In addition, teaching appears to be a natural skill rather than one that one needs to learn through a rigorous program of professional education. We think of it as something that individuals either have or they do not have: a way with kids, a confident and forceful personality. Whatever it is, no one can really learn it in a teacher education program.

How much truth is there in these statements? As pre-service teachers, how do you regard the process of being taught how to teach? Do you feel like teaching is something you have or you don’t?

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