To the Editor:
I’m writing in response to the Commentary by Vartan Gregorian addressing preparatory training for teachers (“No More Silver Bullets,” Nov. 10, 2004).
As a novice teacher, I’d like to think that I’ve garnered enough experience to refute the accusation implied by Mr. Gregorian: that universities aren’t providing their teacher-candidates with adequate training. But Mr. Gregorian’s diagnosis seems to throw the baby out with the bathwater. What he fails to acknowledge is that effective teachers are effective because they carry within them a passion to teach—something that can’t be taught, no matter how ideal the higher education program.
A better argument might be that universities fail to discern which candidates have this passion and belong in the profession, and they don’t weed out those who are destined to discredit the profession by adding to the existing “business as usual” norms. It’s the status quo, and not the preparation, that is to blame for lowering the bar of what an effective teacher might be.
All the Carnegie Corporations in the world won’t put a dent in what ails the noblest profession unless those who can, do teach.
A version of this article appeared in the January 05, 2005 edition of Education Week as A Passion for Teaching Cannot Be Taught