Teachers Column

Article Tools
  • PrintPrinter-Friendly
  • EmailEmail Article
  • ReprintReprints
  • CommentsComments

There is much talk these days about recruiting older people from outside the education field to ease the teacher shortage in mathematics and science. The efficacy of the concept will be tested by a new program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Next September, Harvard will launch a one-year master's-degree program called the "Midcareer Math and Science Program." For it, Harvard officials will select 25 men and women in the 45-to-60 age bracket who want to shift from other careers to public-school teaching.

In its first year, the program will be limited to mathematics; applicants must have either minored or majored in mathematics in college but need not have had a career in that field.

One type of applicant Harvard expects to hear from is the person with a pension plan and few heavy financial responsibilities, said Katherine Merseth, assistant to the dean. She says she also expects applications from business executives who are "tired of keeping up with every latest technological advance and tired of jumping on and off of airplanes."

Harvard will also offer a three-week summer program for math teachers who are already certified.

For further information about both programs, write Katherine Merseth at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education, Longfellow Hall, Appian Way, Cambridge, Mass. 02138.

"If you're the only foreign-language teacher in your high school you can get [to] feeling pretty stale," says Clyde Thogmartin, an associate professor of French at Iowa State University. "There's no one else to talk to in your language. It's hard to keep up your interest."

And so Mr. Thogmartin and three colleagues are offering a three-week summer program specially tailored for the foreign-language teacher in a small school district.

The workshops will be in Spanish and French only, and will concentrate on language skills and new methods of teaching. Isolated teachers want to hear other people's experience about what works and doesn't work, Mr. Thogmartin said.

The program will run mornings from June 6-24 and will cost $159, he said; it is open to teachers from all states. Participants can earn three credit-hours toward a minor. During the same weeks, the university's English department will offer afternoon workshops in English-as-a-second-language. For more information, contact Mr. Thogmartin at the university's foreign language department, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa 50011, (515) 294-4046.

Dial-A-Teacher programs are apparently becoming an increasingly common way for teachers to supplement their salaries as well as for students to do their homework.

The Baltimore school district, which launched a new telephone program this month, reports that more than 50 teachers applied for the seven available jobs that pay $7.50 an hour.

In the Charlotte-Mecklenburg (N.C.) schools' four-year-old program, there is a waiting list for the seven phone positions that pay $9 an hour. The program operates four days a week from 5 to 8 P.M.

Last semester, an average of 137 students called in each night with homework questions and more than half were about mathematics, a spokesman said. English trailed, provoking only 25 percent of the queries to teachers.

Boston, New York, Miami, and Philadelphia have also started Dial-A-Teacher programs.

Members of the Oregon Teachers Association are eligible this year for some exotic travels in remote areas of Australia and New Zealand.

They are being offered, for example, a for-credit course in marine biology on an island at the south end of Australia's Great Barrier Reef and a bus tour of schools in remote indigenous tribal communities of New Zealand.

These attractions are included in two teacher-exchange programs developed by the Oregon Education Association. During the trip, teachers will also live with families either in Brisbane or Aukland and visit schools there. Next December and January, the Oregon teachers will play host to the Australians and New Zealanders who will be on their "summer vacations."

About 30 Oregonians who went on the exchange last summer found Australia's roads poor, but its school facilities very lavish, and special-education programs especially impressive, said Bruce Clere, an association member who initiated the exchange.

For further details, call Mr.Clere at association headquarters in Portland, Ore., (503) 684-3300.

Teachers looking for new ways to introduce the pros and cons of the nuclear-energy issue in their classrooms may find some useful tips in a kit compiled by the Nuclear Information and Resource Service.

The material clearly suggests its point of view: "It will be a great day when our schools get all the money they need and the Air Force has to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber," says one poster tucked into the packet. However, a 28-page guide for secondary-school teachers lists a wide variety of basic books, games, films, and other guides for classroom use.

Diagrams explaining how radiation effects the body and how nuclear power plants work are geared for young students; other maps locating nuclear-weapon and power facilities are aimed at older students.

The kit is called Teaching Nuclear Issues, and costs $10. It can be obtained from the Nuclear Information and Resource Service, 1346 Connecticut Ave. N.W., 4th Floor, Washington, D.C. 20036.

With five big birthday cakes and many fond memories, members of the American Federation of Teachers' Detroit local celebrated their 52nd birthday recently.

Some aft affiliates go back even further; New York City, Chicago, and Gary, Ind. locals were founded in 1916. The oldest "pure-blood" local--with no breaks or mergers at all--is the St. Paul, Minn., affiliate, founded in 1918.--ha

Vol. 02, Issue 28

Notice: We recently upgraded our comments. (Learn more here.) If you are logged in as a subscriber or registered user and already have a Display Name on edweek.org, you can post comments. If you do not already have a Display Name, please create one here.
Ground Rules for Posting
We encourage lively debate, but please be respectful of others. Profanity and personal attacks are prohibited. By commenting, you are agreeing to abide by our user agreement.
All comments are public.

Back to Top Back to Top

Most Popular Stories