Showing posts with label teacher training. Show all posts
Showing posts with label teacher training. Show all posts

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Dispositions and education

I was reading an article on the disposition of teachers that investigated how teaching schools should identify potential students in a similar way to how doctors are identified. Personality traits or "dispositions" to act could be used as a criteria to predict the success of student teachers.

It tied neatly to a discussion I had in the staffroom this week about how teachers had a persona (or disposition) they had to maintain in society. In the past, there was a clear expectation that teachers were pillars of society. They have been maids that did not date or marry. They have been philosophers, terminally interested in the pursuit of knowledge. They have been experts in their subject areas and acknowledged for their ability to do something at a level that is beyond most. They have also been over harsh disciplinarians, child molesters and cretins.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

The idea of dispositions was interesting as it worried me. Too many see the 'A type' personality as the only teacher worth having (poor treatment of practicum students in schools is common where "lack of personality" is the main reason for failing or "great personality" hides multiple failings). The 'A type' type teacher is good from an administrative point of view as typically there is little in the way of additional behavioural assistance required, students graduate out of their classes and when kids look back they say that they liked the teacher (but may not have learned much).

Yet if you dig a little deeper and ask a student that has left school who they admired, it seems to be the opposite. It is the disciplinarian, the teacher that yelled at them and gave them detention, the one that made them try harder when there was little left in the tank to try with. The ones that did not need to be liked to maintain a high level of learning in the classroom (but may have needed assistance from time to time to reset the classroom - think back to that time you have seen a teacher explode at a class or a student).

I'm concerned that if you define dispositions, that inadequate research will define the disposition required as being the "type A" personality and exclude the people I have always admired as the true teachers - the teacher that takes pride in their performance first (often to their personal detriment) rather than the teacher that rattles the least amount of cages. The one that seeks out performing and under performing students with mild motivational issues (I don't mean students ill suited to the classroom environment) and lights a fire under them when the easy option is to let them figuratively play cards in the back corner.

Maybe it is these people we need to search out and put discipline frameworks around for education to reach more students.