Education Opinion

Courses Are No Substitute for Classroom Experience

By Walt Gardner — September 25, 2017 1 min read
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When the New York State Board of Regents made it easier to become licensed to teach in the state’s public schools, criticism was aimed primarily at the fewer number of courses required (“The right way to open up the teaching field,” New York Post, Sep. 17). But special criticism was devoted to allowing candidates to use videos of their student teaching in lieu of subject matter credits.

I’m not an apologist for education schools. So many courses offered have little, if any, application to classroom reality. But I’m also against assuming that subject matter expertise alone is enough for effectiveness. If that were not so, then professors who hold doctorates in their subject fields would automatically be successful in front of K-12 classrooms. That’s not the case. Pedagogy has its place. Otherwise, professors would all be star performers.

What I suggest is auditioning. It works extremely well in the performing arts. No matter how many credits a performer has, he/she still has to demonstrate suitability for the part under consideration. Why can’t the same process be used in opening up the teaching field? Let a panel of trained evaluators observe a candidate for a license teach a real class. I maintain that such a policy would have far more predictive value than obsession with the number of credits. I realize that classes vary enormously. As a result, the success of an auditioning candidate before one class is no assurance of success in front of another class. But the same thing can be said about candidates who amass credits the traditional way.

The opinions expressed in Walt Gardner’s Reality Check are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.