Former Director National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education Washington, D.C.
Training New Teachers
I know few teachers who feel that their undergraduate education classes actually helped them in the classroom. They learned more about teaching through experience, talking to other teachers, and inservice training. Since so much about teaching is learned from actually being in the classroom, why not allow alternative routes to teaching [“Looking For A Short Cut,’' December 1989]? Furthermore, requiring prospective teachers with undergraduate degrees but no teaching certificate to get a teaching degree could discourage potentially good teachers.
States across the country, as well as the National Education Association, should realize that alternative certification with supervision and inservice classes will allow for well-qualified, enthusiastic teachers.
Springtown High School
Apparently, the NEA feels that a teacher’s knowledge of core subject material is secondary to knowledge of child psychology. Would the NEA oppose Einstein teaching high school physics because he lacked courses in teaching exceptional students?
I found the Association of American Colleges’ call for programs that combine teacher training with liberal arts [“How Best To Train Teachers,’' January 1990] another example of why public education suffers. Where was the AAC for the past four years? The Carnegie Forum on Education and the Economy and the Holmes Group are right in saying prospective teachers need a firm grounding in their particular content area. Those who majored in education with plans to teach immediately after receiving their bachelor’s degrees were among the lowest scorers on standardized tests, and their critical and creative thinking skills did not measure up to graduates with majors outside of education. The AAC should have been part of the process of reshaping teacher training rather than becoming part of a reactionary movement by the old guard still clinging to their entrenched interests. How are we ever going to make teaching a “profession’’ if we do not deem it worthy of increased study? If the AAC thinks four years is plenty for a teacher, then I suppose it thinks our salaries are adequate, too. The elimination of the undergraduate course of study in education is one of the most progressive changes in education in this century.
Lowell High School
The Kids on the Block, a troupe of disabled and nondisabled puppets, had the opportunity to perform at the Takoma Park Elementary School on several occasions, and we had the chance to meet and get to know Olivia Norman [“Side By Side,’' November 1989]. As a special educator, it was a real pleasure for me to see how well Olivia was accepted by her classmates as a regular part of her class. She was perceived by her classmates neither as sad and dependent nor extraordinary. Instead, she was accorded the rightful place that each disabled child in the mainstream deserves: the chance to be a regular kid.
Founder and President
The Kids on the Block
With the cooperation of The Concord Review [“A Labor Of Love,’' December 1989], my school is attempting a year-long pilot program in which our students will read Review essays as optional and enrichment assignments. Our students will be reading, commenting on, and honoring the works of other young people. These essays might be the spark a young person needs to say, “I can do that, too.’' I hope Will Fitzhugh survives the rigors of getting a new and worthy publication going. Students need to have their works honored, and The Concord Review is an excellent vehicle.
Buker Middle School
A version of this article appeared in the March 01, 1990 edition of Teacher as Letters