Reflections on Standards in Teacher Education and where it leaves me.


In the article “The Standards Made Me Do It: Reculturing Teacher Education to Redeem the Curriculum” by Kevin Talbert and Terah Moore the authors create the scenario where the teachers defend their lackluster education practices with the imposed standards. They say that “teachers become dummified, minimized to generic statements crafted by others”. In my hypothesis the behavior and standards of what teaching entails are taught much earlier than in the university or the training classroom. I think these behaviors are taught over years of the child’s school experience.

Last semester I spent many hours watching student-teachers on video and reading their papers. They are very steadfast to acting out teaching similar to their mentoring teacher and what they saw as a child in school. The mandatory in-field work that student-teachers have in their certification programs reinforces these behaviors learned as a child. The standards have indeed been used as an excuse for teachers. Truly, in many ways standards have stripped down the teaching profession.

The state’s influence on education is stronger than the intellectual stimulation of the university. Even through many hours of study and work, student-teachers rarely disregard their ingrained ideas in favor of an exploration of what is relevant to students and how children prefer to learn. Talbert and Moore say, “[T]heir preparation as teachers…has betrayed them.” Many teachers give the profession a try for a few years and then quickly retreat. I’ve found that teachers aren’t adequately prepared for the work of the job. Young students naively enter a degree program with optimistic ideas of helping kids, when in reality teaching is no longer about children or for children. How disappointing.

The authors go on to claim, “In our experience, teacher education students are rarely asked to consider issues of ultimate significance.” This is also my experience. What is education for? What are these tests telling us about our students? Will this work prepare these children? What are we preparing them for?
It feels like no one wants to confront these questions because the answers will lead to the deconstruction of institutions, power and money. That’s about as anti-humanitarian you can get in an institution that proclaims that exact opposite.

Where does all this enlightenment take me? Seeing the corruption, speaking out about the inequalities, and wanting the long-term disservice that education has offered to change, has brought me many hours of introspection. Having this knowledge hasn’t led me to action and it doesn’t lead most into action for change. It’s led me to a frustrated view of humanity. Helplessly watching universities, social institutions and media continue to manipulate us.

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