Compulsory Training in Mind, Brain and Education for teachers?

I find it ironic that the only training/continuous professional development (CPD) which is compulsory for educationalists in East Lothian relates to such things as Health and Safety; Recruitment and Selection; or Disciplinary and Grievance courses.

My experience at Harvard has made me question whether or not there might be a place for compulsory professional updates on new knowledge and practice emerging from research into the Mind, Brain and Education.

Picking up on Richard Elmore’s thoughts the profession is often at the mercy of the latest fad/methodology/approach which will have some theoretical context and background but which is all too often ignored in favour of getting down to what we might call the “tricks”.

Would it not be liberating for teachers to treat them as professionals – in much the same way as doctors – and give them the most recent knowledge relating to the brain, mind and education which they could then apply to their own practice?

In this way they can be reflecting upon their own and others practice in a much more meaningful way than merely implementing an “approach” which has been developed by others.

If we did go down this route I’d like to explore the possibility of establishing a team of staff members from throughout our authority who would pull together the materials, devise the teaching model, and deliver the courses.

In our Health and Safety course – which all senior managers must complete – there is a necessity to pass the final written assignment. Would such an approach have merit in relation to our professional practice ?- I think it would and I would be willing to be one of the first through the course.

10 thoughts on “Compulsory Training in Mind, Brain and Education for teachers?

  1. I know that some people would bemoan the compulsory nature of anything ‘new’, but I’ve long wondered how and why teachers getting paid the same as me can offer relatively ineffective learning in their classroom, while also refusing to take any course of action to improve their practice.

    Like you say, where life is in immediate danger, in a hospital or building site, for example, people *have* to be not only knowledgeable but also proficient in the latest practice. I would argue that an education that is not being delivered with the latest proven successful methods (back to your measurablity) is arguably just as dangerous.

  2. I suspect that many people would be up for it simply because it’s an interesting and relevant topic. I would.

  3. Having this kind of support would be great for educators, but also training educators how to find this information for themselves would also be just as useful.

    If we lead by example, then students can surely relate our actions to their own and pick up some good habits and life skills on life-long education.

    Learning doesn’t stop at the school gates, and doesn’t just apply to those in uniforms!

  4. The medical analogy is apt. I wouldn’t be seen dead taking my child to a doctor whose last training may have been 30 years ago! And neither should she be exposed to teachers whose knowledge of pedagogy was formulated in the dim and distant past without up-dates. This is especially so, considering the exponential increase in our knowledge ansd understanding of how the brain works and how the mind is formed. If we make the assumption (one by no means universally held) that we want our young people to become critical thinkers, then we ourselves must develop our own open and discerning mindset.

    Unfortunately ‘giving’ teachers this knowledge just doesn’t work: information giving is necessary but by no means sufficient. Most of us learn best through an apprenticeship approach, wherein learners actively try out new ideas with the support of more experienced learners over a long period of time, and through trail and error.

    I’m in!

  5. It sounds, Hilery, like we need to be walking our own walk. When ‘knowledge’ in its rawest sense can be found anywhere instantly, teachers need to start looking more at how *we* learn. Sound familiar… 😉

  6. I cannot envisage that anyone in education would condone practice which is “ineffective” ( see E McIntosh’s comment), but I would hesistate to assume that there always such a correlation between old and bad and new and good – and how would the ‘new’ be selected? My own reading of education journals,is timeconsuming and, while fascinating and enriching, makes apparent how many different, and often conflicting theories and opinions there are. A brave person who could confidently reject one in favour of another. I have also been in education long enough to see”new” become “old” and out of favour and then back to being “new” and in favour again ( and that doesn’t need to mean I have become an ineffective practitioner in the course of it all !).
    Is the scientific, medical model, which can appear seductive in its simplicity, always the best one in education? While the scientific method ( where there is eventual elimination of the false by true and of less reliable knowledge being replaced by more reliable knowledge) is excellent for establishing’facts’, it does not tell us what should be done with these facts. For that, judgement and values within each contingent situation must prevail (Best and Keller). A discussion forum to create opportunities for dialogue about new ideas and the above issues would perhaps be interesting way to develop professional practice and critical thinking though.

  7. That’s a really important caveat to add, Liz. I think by ‘new’ I, at least, am talking about things which *have* been put through the mill and which are based on research. For example, there are still far too many teachers that a) don’t know what AifL is and b) don’t know how to apply it in their classroom. Worse still, many don’t feel it’s worth changing their practice because “all this thinking about thinking” can’t be better than good old drill and kill.

    That’s just one example. My frustration in dealing with technology is that people often think that new technology is just for newness’ sake when, in fact, the technology is reinforcing or making possible something ‘pedagogical’ of which the benefits are clear e.g. blogging as part of AifL working.

  8. I agree whole heartedly with the points raised by both Ewan and Hilery.
    I too, am in!!

  9. This post is to check out a software problem I am having with my computer – hence the brevity (but hopefully a useful piece of info none-the-less).
    Interesting article in TES today about the importance of interpersonal skills in effective teaching.

  10. Pingback: Don’s Learning Log » Blog Archive » A Doctoral Profession

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