Could teaching become an APPRENTICESHIP again?

Photo by Vance Osterhout on Unsplash

If you are someone who has already been teaching for 5 years or more, I think you can agree that whatever you learned at University or college to get your teaching certificate, the only real valuable learning you had came when you were actually in real schools and actually teaching classes with real people. My question is, if this is such a valuable way to learn, why not go back to that. Not 100% in class, but just like an apprenticeship where you basically work in the place but do block courses every 3 months to consolidate what you have learned and introduce new concepts you to.

Teaching was in fact like this many years ago (well in New Zealand anyway), and all teachers would start off as teaching assistants and then slowly move through the ranks to become a fully fledged certified teacher. This came from attending night classes or weekend courses to hone the content of their experience into a valuable long term profession.

It sounds like a great idea and I don’t think teaching stands alone in this question. There are plenty of lawyers, accountants and business executives (to name only a few) who would agree with me, that what you learn at University really isn’t particularly valuable.  So, what is are the pros and cons on this these days?

Here are some things to consider:

PROS:

  1. Learning from a real experience is by far the most valuable both through observing an experienced teacher and also having the chance to engage with real students.
  2. It would be a lot cheaper for the Govt to outsource 80% of the teaching of learning to the schools.
  3. The ‘student teachers’ could be working and earning a living as well as learning at the same time.
  4. The classroom teachers would be getting on the job accountability ratings from their student teachers.
  5. The class teachers would have to keep themselves up to date with the latest teaching and learning techniques so that they could help the student teacher.
  6. There could be a two way learning process with the experienced teacher also picking up new ideas from the upcoming teachers.

CONS:

  1. If a student teacher gets put with a poor performing experienced teacher, the new teacher could pick up some bad teaching habits that could be difficult to get rid of.
  2. Govts make a lot of money out of tertiary education, so cutting back on education could backfire negatively financially for the Govt in the long run.
  3. What do Govt’s do with all the Tertiary Institutions once they no longer offer long term daily courses?
  4. Student teachers may only choose to teach in schools in their area, therefore they will not be getting an ‘across the board’ teaching experience.
  5. More work will need to be done to bring current experienced teachers work skills up to standard in some areas, and this could be costly for the Govt.
  6. The children/students in the classes will have to adjust to a variety of teaching abilities in one class as they may have 3 teachers, one experienced and two inexperienced, and so their learning will suffer as a result.

If collaborative learning is something for the future, it seems to me that the apprenticeship idea is something to consider. There are however other aspects to the word ‘apprenticeship’ that could be challenging. e.g. the word ‘apprenticeship’ tended to be always associated with semi-skilled, non-intellectual work, and getting people to change their mindset about this new approach could be challenging.

So above are just some ideas about the notion of reintroducing the concept of ‘apprenticeship’ teaching. What do you think? Do you see this kind of training as more effective in the future?

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