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Several districts in Kansas have decided to employ non-certified teachers to place in classrooms.
I am torn between thoughts on this being wrong or right.
The educated teacher in me says no way! Teachers who are responsible for the education of others should be educated themselves. They should go through the ropes of being disciplined enough to have a four-year degree that has taught them classroom management, appropriate techniques, pedagogy and above all, self-discipline and responsibility.
However, as a parent of two kids in college, I would have to rethink my understanding of today’s higher education system. In no way are my kids getting the type of college education that I received. I remember spending quite a few hours in my university library, combing through microfiche, pulling periodicals off the shelves and developing a very close relationship with the dewey decimal system. I also remember creating relationships with my professors and having study groups with colleagues which resulted in higher-order thinking and well-educated creations of opinions and the ability to respectfully argue those opinions, teaching us how to agree to disagree. All-in-all, do I feel like I was prepared in college to enter a classroom? Absolutely not! But did I feel prepared to figure out how to do it through self-motivation, research and perseverance? Absolutely!
Instead of today’s technology creating more conveniences with education, it seems to foster laziness on both the professors’ and students’ parts. Classes can be taken online without developing any type of relationship with the instructors. Answers to lessons can be found verbatim online, papers can be easily cut-and-pasted just enough to get by the plagiarism check and communication between instructors and students is strained. Darkening the brick-and-mortar building has become almost extinct and helping students learn how to think on a higher level through lectures and discussions is a thing of the past. Students are taking classes, paying their tuition and basically just making a grade, not really learning material.
This being said, it’s hard to argue the need for an actual teaching certification. Most people do not go into this profession without the ingredients needed to be effective; mostly the interest in the subject they teach and a love for the population placed in their care. Of course there are those who end up in a classroom who have no business being there, but it’s that way with many other professions as well.
So what is the answer to creating a proper balance between well-prepared educators and educators who are knowledgeable about their topic, but don’t have a teaching certificate? Some districts offer alternative placement programs. Some districts require experience in the subject instead of certification. Other districts are so in need of teachers, they just seek a warm body.
A majority of teachers agree that we are underpaid, under-appreciated, understaffed, under-resourced and underprepared with professional development that we can really utilize in a classroom, created by people who haven’t seen the inside of a classroom for many years. A majority of teachers would also agree that our kids are over-tested, overwhelmed and over-diagnosed to the tune of accruing more money for the district that the kids, and teachers, never see.
So maybe we need more schools full of uncertified teachers who truly love and believe in what they are doing.
Maybe we also need administration and state departments run by the same population of people; those who understand the needs of teachers, the abilities of students and have a true passion for making a difference.