Weak points

24th September 2010 at 01:00

I was delighted to read the article, "Trainees weak in maths" (TESS, September 10).

I've observed a trainee teaching a group of primary pupils that the big hand on a clock is the hours hand. Content knowledge in maths is an issue, but the underlying cause is another.

What is missing for some trainees is the understanding of what it means to be joining a profession. When a student starts a B.Ed, it is vital he or she recognises this is not a typical undergraduate degree, but a professional one and the start of a teaching career. It requires a certain level of professionalism, self-awareness and reflection to survive and be the best teacher possible.

Because many lack these attributes, difficulties arise before and after qualifying and, ultimately, children suffer. They're not limited to content knowledge or maths, but are particularly acute in these areas.

I don't know the remedy but, as a student, I know it's not to do with the content knowledge we have at the start of our training. Standard grade or Higher maths is irrelevant. It is what one does with the knowledge that matters. From the outset, students need to analyse, debate and understand what it means to be an education professional.

Paul Campbell, Student primary teacher, Strathclyde University.

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