Teachers failing to make pupils citizens

17th July 1998 at 01:00
SIRHERMAN Ouseley is not alone in believing that the Teacher Training Agency does not take him seriously.

The national standards for qualified teacher status categorise their requirements under the four headings of (subject) knowledge and understanding; planning, teaching and class management; monitoring, assessment, recording, reporting and accountability: and other professional requirements. Within this document there are tightly defined (dare I say prescribed?) standards covering the first three sections that focus on subject teaching.

However, the fourth section is a curious combination of categories including professional duties, legal liabilities, working relationships and the like, which seem to represent afterthoughts, once the other three boxes had been completed.

Nowhere can I find any real emphasis on the role of the teacher in fostering the moral, social, creative and intellectual development of students. Nor can I find reference to values and attitudes or to notions of empathy, self-awareness and intuition that are characteristics of effective teachers.

A more hopeful sign is the recognition by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority that the national curriculum lacks a clear and explicit rationale and associated set of aims. This is also characteristic of the TTA national standards. This lack of a shared sense of purpose stands in sharp contrast to the sense of consensus that can be seen in other educational systems. For example, with regard to the notion of Didaktik in the German and Scandinavian traditions, the overall aim of the education system is that of gebildite, which can be broadly translated as "educated personality".

This means, for example, fostering a sense of egalitarianism and having a curriculum that relates to the central problems of living and is relevant to the key problems of society.

So, for example, the whole issue of interdependence, tolerance, awareness of and empathy towards other countries and cultures would be addressed by the system, given such a shared sense of purpose about the aims of education.

I agree entirely with Sir Herman that most education policy-makers have a blind spot for such issues. Not only are we as a nation failing to address key social problems as a society, neither is the system preparing our teachers adequately for educating our children to be future citizens and employees within a European and wider global context.

It seems to me that an important alliance could be made with business and commerce on the blind spots and failings in the system. Perhaps, as a start, it would be useful if the TTA was to talk with the QCA?

Dr Brian Hudson Research co-ordinator for European and International Development School of education. Sheffield Hallam University

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