The high and low roads

18th November 2005 at 00:00
Apropos of the ongoing debate about teacher training in Scotland, I suggest Marj Adams is right (TESS, October 28) that the vast majority of secondary teachers would assert that their teacher training was woefully inadequate.

Lectures were often dull and boring, compared with those during our undergraduate years. Those teachers of future teachers were certainly not good role models in presenting their subjects in a challenging, stimulating and educationally meaningful manner. Nor did they seem to take seriously our professional worries, such as classroom discipline.

In my many years of teaching, I encountered teachers trained in every Scottish institution and many agreed that their training was far from ideal. We only really learned to teach once we got into the classroom, as fully fledged teachers. However, our teacher training could have provided us with more than a road atlas. Maybe our tutors could have demonstrated to us how to teach a class that they, too, had never previously encountered.

I believe that the process of selecting candidates for teaching is deficient. Many are just not suited to teaching. People often choose the career for spurious reasons. Many don't know what else to do once they graduate, so they apply for teacher training.

For the record, I sat in with one of Marj Adams's fourth year classes in June, a heart-warming experience among superb youngsters showing intelligence, sensitivity, compassion, humour, courage and considerable communication skills. Marj is an excellent practitioner with exceptional examination results to validate her work with students at Higher and Intermediate 2 level philosophy, and likewise in Higher psychology, just as she did in Higher English many moons ago.

Shirley Mitchinson



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