Monthly Archives: April 2017

Teacher Education and Teacher Quality

One of the sectors which fosters national development is education by ensuring the development of a functional human resource. The institution of strong educational structures leads to a society populated by enlightened people, who can cause positive economic progress and social transformation. A Positive social transformation and its associated economic growth are achieved as the people apply the skills they learned while they were in school. The acquisition of these skills is facilitated by one individual we all ‘teacher’. For this reason, nations seeking economic and social developments need not ignore teachers and their role in national development.

Teachers are the major factor that drives students’ achievements in learning. The performance of teachers generally determines, not only, the quality of education, but the general performance of the students they train. The teachers themselves therefore ought to get the best of education, so they can in turn help train students in the best of ways. It is known, that the quality of teachers and quality teaching are some of the most important factors that shape the learning and social and academic growth of students. Quality training will ensure, to a large extent, teachers are of very high quality, so as to be able to properly manage classrooms and facilitate learning. That is why teacher quality is still a matter of concern, even, in countries where students consistently obtain high scores in international exams, such as Trends in Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). In such countries, teacher education of prime importance because of the potential it has to cause positive students’ achievements.

The structure of teacher education keeps changing in almost all countries in response to the quest of producing teachers who understand the current needs of students or just the demand for teachers. The changes are attempts to ensure that quality teachers are produced and sometimes just to ensure that classrooms are not free of teachers. In the U.S.A, how to promote high quality teachers has been an issue of contention and, for the past decade or so, has been motivated, basically, through the methods prescribed by the No Child Left Behind Act (Accomplished California Teachers, 2015). Even in Japan and other Eastern countries where there are more teachers than needed, and structures have been instituted to ensure high quality teachers are produced and employed, issues relating to the teacher and teaching quality are still of concern (Ogawa, Fujii & Ikuo, 2013). Teacher education is therefore no joke anywhere. This article is in two parts. It first discusses Ghana’s teacher education system and in the second part looks at some determinants of quality teaching.

Do You Know How to Be an Engaging and Highly Effective Educator?

Anyone can teach. We teach each other every day. For example, we give instructions to each other for such things as cooking, putting together furniture, and completing household other tasks. However, teaching someone is different than the process of educating someone. Consider the difference between informal learning and formal learning. An example of informal learning would be following a recipe to learn how to cook. In contrast, formal learning occurs within a classroom and usually is accompanied by evaluation and assessment. It may seem that teaching and educating are the same thing; however, the difference has to do with the place or context for learning.

This is the same distinction can be made for teaching informally (giving instructions) and teaching students in a formal classroom environment. A person enters the field of education as a profession – either full time in traditional academic institutions or as an adjunct (or part time) instructor. The reasons vary for why someone would choose to be in the classroom. A traditional full time professor may likely be responsible for conducting research, teaching, and publishing scholarly work. An adjunct instructor may teach in a community college, traditional college, or an online school. When someone teaches students in higher education he or she may be called a facilitator, instructor, or professor. This is important as there isn’t a job with the word educator in the title.

The questions I would like to answer include: What then does it mean to be an educator? Does it signify something different than the assigned job title? What I have learned through my work in higher education is that becoming an educator is not an automatic process. Everyone who is teaching adult students is not functioning as an engaging and highly effective educator. However, it is possible to learn how to educate rather than teach and that requires making a commitment to the profession.

What Does It Mean to Teach?

Consider teaching as part of the system of traditional, primary education. Those classes are teacher-led and children as students are taught what and how to learn. The teacher is considered to be the expert and directs the learning process. A teacher is someone who is highly trained and works to engage the minds of his or her students. This style of teacher-led instructional continues into higher education, specifically traditional college classrooms. The teacher still stands at the front and center of the class delivering information, and students are used to this format because of their experience in primary education. The instructor disseminates knowledge through a lecture and students study to pass the required examinations or complete other required learning activities.

Within higher education, teachers may be called instructors and they are hired as subject matter experts with advanced content knowledge. The job requirements usually include holding a specific number of degree hours in the subject being taught. Teachers may also be called professors in traditional college classes, and those positions require a terminal degree with additional research requirements. For all of these roles, teaching is meant to signify someone who is guiding the learning process by directing, telling, and instructing students. The instructor or professor is in charge, and the students must comply and follow as directed. Here is something to consider: If that is the essence of teaching, is there a difference between that and educating students? Is the role of a teacher the same as that of an educator?

A Brief History of Special Education

Perhaps the largest and most pervasive issue in special education, as well as my own journey in education, is special education’s relationship to general education. History has shown that this has never been an easy clear cut relationship between the two. There has been a lot of giving and taking or maybe I should say pulling and pushing when it comes to educational policy, and the educational practices and services of education and special education by the human educators who deliver those services on both sides of the isle, like me.

Over the last 20+ years I have been on both sides of education. I have seen and felt what it was like to be a regular main stream educator dealing with special education policy, special education students and their specialized teachers. I have also been on the special education side trying to get regular education teachers to work more effectively with my special education students through modifying their instruction and materials and having a little more patience and empathy.

Furthermore, I have been a mainstream regular education teacher who taught regular education inclusion classes trying to figure out how to best work with some new special education teacher in my class and his or her special education students as well. And, in contrast, I have been a special education inclusion teacher intruding on the territory of some regular education teachers with my special education students and the modifications I thought these teachers should implement. I can tell you first-hand that none of this give and take between special education and regular education has been easy. Nor do I see this pushing and pulling becoming easy anytime soon.

So, what is special education? And what makes it so special and yet so complex and controversial sometimes? Well, special education, as its name suggests, is a specialized branch of education. It claims its lineage to such people as Jean-Marc-Gaspard Itard (1775-1838), the physician who “tamed” the “wild boy of Aveyron,” and Anne Sullivan Macy (1866-1936), the teacher who “worked miracles” with Helen Keller.

Special educators teach students who have physical, cognitive, language, learning, sensory, and/or emotional abilities that deviate from those of the general population. Special educators provide instruction specifically tailored to meet individualized needs. These teachers basically make education more available and accessible to students who otherwise would have limited access to education due to whatever disability they are struggling with.

It’s not just the teachers though who play a role in the history of special education in this country. Physicians and clergy, including Itard- mentioned above, Edouard O. Seguin (1812-1880), Samuel Gridley Howe (1801-1876), and Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet (1787-1851), wanted to ameliorate the neglectful, often abusive treatment of individuals with disabilities. Sadly, education in this country was, more often than not, very neglectful and abusive when dealing with students that are different somehow.

There is even a rich literature in our nation that describes the treatment provided to individuals with disabilities in the 1800s and early 1900s. Sadly, in these stories, as well as in the real world, the segment of our population with disabilities were often confined in jails and almshouses without decent food, clothing, personal hygiene, and exercise.

Primary Education Development In Tanzania

1. Overview of the Country and Primary Education System:
Tanzania covers 945,000 square kilometres, including approximately 60,000 square kilometres of inland water. The population is about 32 million people with an average annual growth rate of 2.8 percent per year. Females comprise 51% of the total population. The majority of the population resides on the Mainland, while the rest of the population resides in Zanzibar. The life expectancy is 50 years and the mortality rate is 8.8%. The economy depends upon Agriculture, Tourism, Manufacturing, Mining and Fishing. Agriculture contributes about 50% of GDP and accounting for about two-thirds of Tanzania’s exports. Tourism contributes 15.8%; and manufacturing, 8.1% and mining, 1.7%. The school system is a 2-7-4-2-3+ consisting of pre-primary, primary school, ordinary level secondary education, Advanced level secondary, Technical and Higher Education. Primary School Education is compulsory whereby parents are supposed to take their children to school for enrollment. The medium of instruction in primary is Kiswahili.

One of the key objectives of the first president J.K. Nyerere was development strategy for Tanzania as reflected in the 1967 Arusha Declaration, which to be ensuring that basic social services were available equitably to all members of society. In the education sector, this goal was translated into the 1974 Universal Primary Education Movement, whose goal was to make primary education universally available, compulsory, and provided free of cost to users to ensure it reached the poorest. As the strategy was implemented, large-scale increases in the numbers of primary schools and teachers were brought about through campaign-style programs with the help of donor financing. By the beginning of the 1980s, each village in Tanzania had a primary school and gross primary school enrollment reached nearly 100 percent, although the quality of education provided was not very high. From 1996 the education sector proceeded through the launch and operation of Primary Education Development Plan – PEDP in 2001 to date.

2. Globalization
To different scholars, the definition of globalization may be different. According to Cheng (2000), it may refer to the transfer, adaptation, and development of values, knowledge, technology, and behavioral norms across countries and societies in different parts of the world. The typical phenomena and characteristics associated with globalization include growth of global networking (e.g. internet, world wide e-communication, and transportation), global transfer and interflow in technological, economic, social, political, cultural, and learning areas, international alliances and competitions, international collaboration and exchange, global village, multi-cultural integration, and use of international standards and benchmarks. See also Makule (2008) and MoEC (2000).

3. Globalization in Education
In education discipline globalization can mean the same as the above meanings as is concern, but most specifically all the key words directed in education matters. Dimmock & Walker (2005) argue that in a globalizing and internalizing world, it is not only business and industry that are changing, education, too, is caught up in that new order. This situation provides each nation a new empirical challenge of how to respond to this new order. Since this responsibility is within a national and that there is inequality in terms of economic level and perhaps in cultural variations in the world, globalization seems to affect others positively and the vice versa (Bush 2005). In most of developing countries, these forces come as imposing forces from the outside and are implemented unquestionably because they do not have enough resource to ensure its implementation (Arnove 2003; Crossley & Watson, 2004).

There is misinterpretation that globalization has no much impact on education because the traditional ways of delivering education is still persisting within a national state. But, it has been observed that while globalization continues to restructure the world economy, there are also powerful ideological packages that reshape education system in different ways (Carnoy, 1999; Carnoy & Rhoten, 2002). While others seem to increase access, equity and quality in education, others affect the nature of educational management. Bush (2005) and Lauglo (1997) observe that decentralization of education is one of the global trends in the world which enable to reform educational leadership and management at different levels. They also argue that Decentralization forces help different level of educational management to have power of decision making related to the allocation of resources. Carnoy (1999) further portrays that the global ideologies and economic changes are increasingly intertwined in the international institutions that broadcast particular strategies for educational change. These include western governments, multilateral and bilateral development agencies and NGOs (Crossley & Watson 2004). Also these agencies are the ones which develop global policies and transfer them through funds, conferences and other means. Certainly, with these powerful forces education reforms and to be more specifically, the current reforms on school leadership to a large extent are influenced by globalization.