Friday, March 16, 2007

Teacher training big on how, missing the what

Listen to this article
A few weeks ago Bill Poser claimed that (Canadian and US) teachers aren't taught how to teach reading.
"Even in states and provinces where phonics is used, teachers are generally not given the training necessary to teach it. Here in British Columbia, for example, students training to be teachers read a little bit about approaches to the teaching of reading and discuss them, but they are never taught what the sounds of English are, what the letter-to-sound rules of English are, or how to bring about phonemic awareness. Teachers who lack this knowledge are hard put to do a good job of teaching phonics."
I asked a colleague who had recently completed teacher's college here in Ontario whether this reflected her own experience there; she basically concurred with Poser.
"In teacher's college we learn how to teach different reading strategies, but we don't learn a lot about phonetics or how to teach (it). I guess in 8 months with placement included there is not enough time to go in depth into everything."
The other day, the Toronto Star had an article indicating that there is a glut of applicants to teacher's college and of recent graduates. This will likely have some positive effect on the quality of the individuals coming out, but without the education and training, there's little hope that these folks will be any better equipped to teach reading.

(By the way, I remember hearing of some irreverent wag, commenting on the difference between training and education with a simple question. "How many of you would accept sex training in public schools?")

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