Friday, December 18, 2009

Reforming Teacher Education

A week ago I participated in a conference at the University of Texas at Austin. There were about a hundred participants. The goal was to begin a conversation about what teacher education should look like for digital age learners and share that with policy makers, and leaders in teacher preparation.

You can see the materials and presentations on the conference website.

It was interesting and frustrating. It became clear to me that without a clear picture of K-12 education in the digital age; without the vision for restructured public education, it's almost impossible to develop a new model of teacher education. There was consensus that the notion of the teacher as expert on everything needs to be changed, but that was about as far as we got. If we don't know what education should look like, how can we say what the teacher education programs should look like?

There were very interesting discussions. There's a lot of data, and I believe there's actually a great deal of interest in reforming teacher education, but that can't be done without reform of what is now referred to as K-12 education.

Teacher education programs are in part measured on their ability to place graduates into teaching roles. That means the graduates have to fit in to the current culture and design of education in our schools. Today many teacher education programs want to prepare their graduates to teach in technology-rich environments, but that's not often the reality they experience. So, if that was the focus of a teacher education program there might not be a good fit with a teaching job. Then fewer graduates would be hired and the program wouldn't be as well regarded. What would happen if teacher education programs started preparing their graduates for a really restructured eduction system?

I'm back to the proposal I've made before. I want to pull together a group to create a new vision for education in the 21st Century. Once that is developed, then bring together another group to create the infrastructure to enable that vision. Developing the infrastructure involves more than just a redesigned teacher education program, there are policy implications, facility design, and more. I just need to find the funding.