Ask Reading Kingdom: Does Teacher Training Need Improvement?


Children today face many complex demands, and the pressure to meet state and national standards has left educators with little room to meet unique student needs.

A teacher asks:

If we know that teachers are not coming out of teacher preparation/ pre-service programs with the skills and understanding to deal with the complex issues that students face, then why aren’t we changing these programs to include classes that address child development, working with families, and learning theory?

Dr. Marion Blank (Founder of answers:

Your question is a wonderful one and so very logical. Unfortunately, in many areas of human endeavor, logic does not win out. The problem is by no means limited to education. To cite but one example, it is prevalent in medicine as well. For example, the third leading cause of death in our nation is iatrogenic disease—that is, disease occurring as the result of treatment by a health professional. Doctors clearly do not intend for this terrible result to happen. But they are not trained in how to prevent it.

Something similar holds in education. The training of teachers is not designed to address the real issues that children and teachers confront. If we were starting from scratch, it might be different. But deeply embedded patterns are in place, and even if they are not effective, people are reluctant to give them up. Nevertheless, it can happen. If we have a thoughtful, high level leadership which 1. deems this to be a critical issue and 2. is strong enough to stand up to the criticism that is bound to follow, phenomenal improvements in this vital area can make the possible into the reality.

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