Wednesday, April 20, 2011

STEC: Professor Graham Donaldson - Teaching Scotland's Future

Keynote address – Professor Graham Donaldson, Leader of the Review of Teacher Education: “Teaching Scotland's Future”
(Abstract available here)

The title of Donaldson's keynote and the Review, look forward. it is not a consideration of how to fix a broken system but rather looking forward how we can prepare teachers entering the profession this year who are likely still to be teaching in 2060. We don't know what schools and education will look like then but we can be sure there will be change.

Was the sixties a "Golden Age" for teaching. Donaldson thinks not. He remembers it as a time, certainly in secondary, where the curriculum was defined and dictated by the examination board and educational publishers. What has changed is that education is now one of the major policy areas of interest to government. It is not going to happen (at least not in the near future) that government will step back and leave the profession to get on with it themselves. And note, this is not just a policy of interest in this country but it is internationally important (see for example the impact of PISA.

Curriculum for Excellence is the policy response to the issues raised above (and others). It sets out a broad, 21st century education, it aims to promote deep learning and high standards and it seeks to address underachievement particularly in basic skills. Donaldson said Curriculum for Excellence is "a new paradigm of governance and change".

We should not be afraid of complexity and Donaldson thinks that "by and large" the teaching profession is up for this. Teaching should be recognised as complex and challenging. This highlights that at the heart of the process, there should be a recognition of career-long teacher education; not to see initial teacher education as separate from other aspects of teacher education. The Donaldson review recognises teachers as expert practitioners who take responsibility for their own development.

Intended results of the review: reinvigoration of professionalism; rigorous selection of students applying to enter teacher education; concurrent undergraduate degrees that are both vocationally and academically challenging; and is aligned to the assessment of students' progress (example was given that students still see the tutor visit as the all that matters). Donaldson has just argued that part of the reason colleges of education were brought into the university system was to create a wider context to expose students and staff to more than a narrow preparation for teaching.

Donaldson says, "we are not making optimum use of ICT for professional learning." He talked about the "Dead time wasted by tutors googling up and down the country visiting schools" which could be redeemed by smart use of technology. {I think that was the implication but I remain unconvinced! - DDM.}

Teacher educators should be directly engaged with practice - theory/research/practice are not separate. There should be a culture where Masters-level study is the norm. "A lot of what we do in CPD is not challenging" that it is in some cases "insulting". The test of the success of CPD should be the impact on learning. {As an aside, should this be the test for educational research at university level? What impact has it or will it have on learning? - DDM} Theory matters but it is integral not complimentary to practice.

Professional standards are about coherence, challenge and growth. Donaldson is "suspicious of good practice." He is more interested in "good problems" what conditions led the practitioner to develop that 'good' practice? We need exciting and excited teachers.

"He that will not apply new remedies must expect new evils; for time is the greatest innovator" - Francis Bacon

3 comments:

JanieT said...

In medieval universities the Trivuum comprised three subjects that were taught first: grammar, logic, rhetoric! Today, I believe was rhetoric!!!!!!! {JET}
I'm impressed that you took these notes - I thought you were doing your emails!

David said...

Hello Jane

Cheek of you! Of course I was taking notes... and this from a woman who filled two a4 pages with doodles!

Sonu Gupta said...

It’s hard to find knowledgeable people on this topic, but you sound like you know what you’re talking about!
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