While I was just about to re-tweet this blog post about a research study from Scott McLeod, one of my favorite provocateurs in education and technology . . . I thought twice, especially since I am under the weather and relying on other peep's insight to make up for my cotton-headed brain for the week.
What I love about this research is how it's about crossing silos - one of things that still often gets lost in education.
It is a good one to ponder and debate. It is actually a guest post for McLeod's blog, Dangerously Irrelevant, from Seann from gamingmatter.com, which McLeod frames as "self-promotion." Okay, good to know, yet the questions raised are more the point. Post is entitled, "Are Teacher Preparation Programs Dangerously Irrelevant?"
Below is an excerpt of the post and research. Do check out the entire post or the follow-up posts, as where you will find me soon.
Were you trained to teach in a teacher education program? What training most equipped you to teach like you do?
The results were striking. Stop for a moment and consider the following numbers from 39 of our award winning teachers.
- 10% credit their primary training to a traditional four year certification program
- 21% credit their primary training to a hobby, game, or interest.
- 33% credit their primary training to another job/profession.
- 36% credit their primary training to another field of study.
- Only 31% completed a traditional four year certification program.
- 46% were employed in other fields or left the teaching profession for a time.
- 67% were trained in other fields of practice before getting a certificate in a 1-2 year program.
- Only 10%, or 4 of 39, affirmed that their official 'teacher training' was relevant to their current practice. The rest were inspired elsewhere.
There were no patterns on what these other field/professions were other than that they covered the gambit: Medicine, Aviation, Acting, Mortuary Work, Rock-n-Roll, Journalism, etc. etc. Commonly, these teachers felt their training in that field was what actually influenced their teaching.
Ironically, those that are being recognized as excellent teachers, were largely not trained as such. Moreover, they largely went out of their way to make sure the world would know it.
So what does this say to educational leadership?
Do we want more 21st century teachers? The most innovative teachers are drawing on experiences and skill sets they developed outside of education.
Later I'll show results that 21st Century skills are a key part of what they are bringing into the classroom, while traditional education programs still reduce "technology training" to the use of an over-head or interactive whiteboard. The following posts will uplift the sources that positively affect teacher training.
Immediately, a few things... this data would suggest if you want to employ innovative creative teachers, you may want to consider:
1) Interview non-traditional candidates; those with other training, lifelong learners with avid hobby interests, avid readers, and yes, computer gamers. These seem to be better predictors of potential among the sample set.
2) Refine your interview protocol to uncover these interests outside of the profession. What do you do for fun? What other interests do you have? Have you ever worked outside of education? Where?
3) Encourage workshops and training outside of education and validate those experiences with modified accreditation. NASA led summer workshops for teachers that were brought up by three of the candidates - none of them were high school science teachers and two of them went on to get flying licenses.
4) When a teacher leaves to work in another profession, this may not be the end of their teaching career. It may be the beginning of an adventure that will return to teach in coming years and win awards for excellence. Stay in touch with teachers that have left to work elsewhere. Encourage them and keep the door open.
5) We can't assume that teacher training is actually doing so. When the local prep program is redesigning, participate and vocalize what skills today's teachers need. Ask for the things that worked for our nation's 'best'. Demand that professors are modeling new media pedagogical practices, out-of-field training, student teaching for every course, design work, and community building.
More on those in the next post.
You will find the full post and follow-up on Scott McLeod's blog - where I will be, too.