Sustainable Further Education FE Teacher Education Training in the UK Term Paper

Pages: 28 (7160 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 60  ·  Level: Doctoral  ·  Topic: Teaching

¶ … Education

Teaching the Teachers

Teaching primary and secondary school children is one of the most challenging careers that there is. One of the most significant challenges of the profession is that for the classroom teacher who spends her or his days surrounded by children or adolescents, the job can be supremely isolating. The classroom teacher, inspired each day to do the best that she can for her students, can sometimes feel that she is struggling all on her own, having to reinvent every pedagogical wheel on her own.

This feeling of isolation is likely to be exacerbated by at least two factors. The first of these is the fact that the profession of education, like all human endeavors, is subject to fads and fashions. The practical effect of this is that each new generation of teachers -- and in fact each new cohort of teachers -- comes to the job with new ideas about the best practices for the profession. This constant churn of ideas -- even when motivated by the best of intentions, and even when new techniques and new ideas are in fact better at conveying knowledge to the widest possible range of students -- can leave even only slightly-less-than-junior teachers feeling like strangers in their own profession.

The second factor that often aggravates the sense of isolation that can affect teachers at all stages of their careers is that the parents of so many students are so disengaged from the education of their own children. Teachers are -- one can only hope -- generally happy to spend a large percentage of their professional lives in the company of young people. This does not mean that they do not also need to have connections with other adults in order to do their jobs as efficiently as possible. The lack of support by parents of the hard work that teachers do is one of the reasons that many teachers cite for leaving the profession. Especially for teachers who do not feel that their school administrators are supportive, the lack of connection with and support from the families of their students may prove to be a devastating feature of their jobs.

The difficulty of teacher retention is a well-recognized one -- by school administrators along with the teachers themselves, teacher-training program designers, and labor unions. Ways in which to retain good teachers -- and ways in which to improve all teachers so that they become good enough so that it is in the best interest of the students to have these teachers be retained -- is a topic that has been talked over and over again, hashed over and over again, and negotiated over and over again since teaching began to be organized into its modern professional form.

But, as is true of the reforms that constantly reshape what happens in the classroom itself, there are constant changes in ideas about how best to support teachers in their professional choices and goals. This should not, in fact, be a surprise. Teaching is a complex, demanding profession, and thus providing support for teachers must also necessarily be complex and demanding on the teachers of teachers. There is also the fact that while some aspects of teaching have been constant since at least the time of Socrates, other aspects of the profession have seen (and continue to see) rapid changes. The demographics of British society have changed dramatically over the past several decades. The more diverse the student body has become, the more demanding that the task of teaching has become and thus the more demands must be made on those whose job it is to help keep teachers engaged in and rewarded by their positions.

Even as student bodies have become more diverse in terms such as race, ethnicity, religion, and country of origin, they have also become more differentiated in terms of learning style.

There are far more children and adolescents now who are diagnosed with learning disabilities and communicative disabilities such as autism. There are also increasing numbers of students with physical challenges that require additional work on the part of teachers, who must now do such things as inject insulin for children with diabetes.

Challenges such as working with students with autism are substantial. Even in the absence of any other potential difficulty during the day, the challenges that a child with autism can pose can make any teacher from novice to veteran to feel at least somewhat lost in their own profession. Even as teachers give to their students a sense of security and help them find a healthy direction for their lives, the teachers themselves may feel that they are each day becoming more and more adrift.

Before proceeding, it is worth noting that in the field of education -- as is true of all human endeavors -- nothing occurs in isolation. Changes in further education programs and requirements for teachers are aligned with -- and arise from the same political and cultural wellspring -- pushes to redefine what constitutes a competent or qualified teacher.

Because these different changes in the teaching profession are intermingled with each other both in terms of formal political policy and in terms of what one might simply call the overall political zeitgeist, this paper examines both further education and changes in licensure since the two cannot be meaningfully examined in isolation from each other.

Guidance and Support for the Teaching Profession

So how can teachers be best supported not only to withstand the challenges and frictions of their profession but in fact to embrace each new school year with enthusiasm and even joy? The current thinking on the issue within the teaching profession in the United Kingdom is that there are at least two distinct needs that must be met for teachers to be able to do their best work on a consistent basis. These have been suggested in the section above. First, teachers need to have access to ever-current information on the latest research and program developments in pedagogy. Second, teachers must be provided with a mechanism that can provide them with what might be termed -- with no attempt to diminish its serious importance -- emotional support to teachers.

A huge body of psychological research exists that demonstrates that one of the most stressful aspects of human experience is isolation, the feeling that one is utterly alone in whatever endeavor one is pursuing. Isolation can Into this psychologically challenging vacuum programs for further education can be leveraged. A well-planned and intelligently instituted program for continuing teacher education can help support a teacher throughout the course of his entire career, not only exposing that teacher to the most current research and creativity within the field of education but also allowing the teacher to feel a continuous connection to others in the field.

This thesis examines the state of further education in the United Kingdom as it obtains with the field of teacher education. After briefly exploring the history of further education programs in the United Kingdom and how in particular it applies to the field of education, this paper goes on to examine the key concepts in the field at the moment. The particular focus of this research is on the ways in which intelligently designed further education programs can support a diverse and egalitarian teacher workforce that can embrace and support a diverse student body.

It is useful to begin an examination of the specifics of further education within the field of teacher training by a broader examination of the history of further education -- which is at times also called "continuing education" using the American term for the analogous process -- for professionals in the United Kingdom. All further education is post-compulsory education in the United Kingdom. That is, it always follows secondary education that all children are required to obtain. It is entirely distinct (in terms of its design, purpose, and goals) from the education that students would receive in a university program in that it is aimed at professionals who wish both to maintain the highest levels of skill within their chosen career as well as who require further education classes to maintain the currency of a license of certificate. There are different levels of further education programs, which can range from basic training in a number of different fields to a Higher National Diploma (this diploma can be used as a qualification for entrance into a British university and can be considered to be equivalent to the first two years in a university study plan) or a Foundation Degree, which is equivalent in status to a Higher National Diploma but is assessed for students in vocational educational programs.

There is a distinction made with the educational and professional worlds between further education programs and higher education. Higher education programs are based in distinct institutions such as universities -- although this is becoming somewhat less the case than it was traditionally as more and more higher-education institutions provide "virtual university" programs. In summary:… [END OF PREVIEW]

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