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The topic on this week's Behind the classroom door from northern Illinois University's College of Education is the ideal teacher for today's schools. Here's the moderator Dean Robert F. top. I think one of the important thoughts in connection with the ideal teacher for today's schools is the today's schools aspect of this discussion because schools have changed so much in the past generation. Today of course more people go to school and the program in school reflects a change from a rural type of society to an urban society. And so we moved a long way from the one room rural school. Where the teacher could have merely a high school diploma or perhaps a two year normal school diploma. And handle the situation quite well. Now we have many complex cities that
require that a teacher have a different type of preparation. It seems to me that no teacher no might need as much as a master's degree. This is a requirement in some states and the type of preparation has to be very different. Certainly the teacher in the elementary school today needs to be much better qualified than the teacher of 25 or 30 years ago. As you stated a generation ago a teacher could begin teaching at the elementary school level with a high school diploma and sometimes maybe one summer session in a State Normal School. While today the situation is much different. For example in my opinion the feel of elementary education is so broad that a person with a doctorate majoring in elementary education and all levels still wouldn't know all the answers. I wonder Lloyd. Aside do you know that within the
last few years there has been a tendency to push subject matter downward. In other words much of the material that normally would have been covered at the high school level today is being covered in the elementary schools. And if you took one field as an example mathematics certainly the content covered in elementary school is. Something of a level that normally would have been covered in junior high school or even the senior high school level. Of course we've learned so much about the psychology of learning and child development and I think the preparation of a teacher has had to be expanded in these areas as well as in the content areas and an elementary teacher particularly in the past at least has not been viewed as requiring a high level of preparation. And in fact some school district required a Master's for high school teachers but not for elementary school
teachers. It seems to me that we've been using the term degree requirements for the teacher rather loosely. We say that a teacher should have a minimum of a bachelor's degree or a master's degree or a teacher might even be required to have a doctor's degree but you haven't said anything about the field of preparation. Teacher on the high school level was teaching chemistry. I think a Master's Degree or a doctorate in chemistry would be most. Valuable to this teacher. But this doctor's degree very well could be in some. General aspect of teaching but I think for this teacher of chemistry we should insist that degree be in the field of chemistry. Well at the same time we can't deny the fact that some of the poorest teaching has been done in some of the areas of the sciences because the individual teacher didn't have an understanding of adolescent psychology
tests and measurements and some of the new methods that are being developed foreign languages are case in point to where more people have been driven away from the study of foreign languages because of the poor approach to the instructional methods used. What I was getting at was this in so many cases on an E.. Secondary school allow both an administrator who is hiring a teacher will just look for that master's degree he might not care what field it said oh yeah it might not have any relationship at all to what he expects his teacher to be doing but certainly on a master's degree for a teacher of English what would be most valuable if it would be in that field. I think it's important that the teacher and the degree in the area where he expects to teach or to work we've had in the past. A lot of young men decide to choose a degree in school administration. These are young men who are teachers and they were looking forward to the possibility of becoming a
school administrator. And so instead of thanking their masters as you've indicated Leo in their area of teaching they moved into administration took a master's degree in administration and then only a small percentage of them were actually obtained assignments in school administration because there aren't many such jobs compared to the number of jobs teaching. So we discovered large numbers of young men teaching science for example with a master's degree in school administration. I suppose if you're talking about a total faculty it perhaps would be better to have a balanced faculty at Edwards. Some of the people who would have the type of preparation that Leo magine. With advanced degrees in content fields but certainly on the total faculty it would be good to have someone for example who would have a master's degree in curriculum somebody else who has a master's degree instructional
techniques someone in instructional media so that I think it's quite difficult. Talk about a total school in terms of the individual teacher. I also think that in terms of our topic for today the ideal teacher is rather hard to define because I think the important thing is that a student should come in contact with as many different types of teachers as possible during a school day or at least during his school life so that some teachers may be ideal for certain students and other teachers who are quite different. Maybe ideal teachers for a different group of students but before we leave and I think probably we can leave the preparation to teachers it seems to me that we have to recognize. That the preparation of a teacher whether he's the ideal teacher or not. I suspect there is no ideal
teacher should involve content preparation Surely he must know his subject matter quite well and at least know where he can find some answers in preparation for the next day's class because we discover that you don't remember all of these facts that you are and in your youth you learned in your earlier degrees you must have a general education that makes him a cultured citizen one who can communicate well with his with adults and children alike. And then he must have some of the methods and some of the tools of teaching. And here I think we're negligent in areas like tests and measurements. Where it is very important that every teacher regardless of his subject matter understanding testing techniques in his particular area and furthermore that he understand how to interpret and use standardized test results which are part of his knowledge and
identifying children's needs and helping plan their future. Well I certainly would agree that he must know those things and many more things about the realities of teaching and learning. For example today we talk a lot about recognizing differences in learners in school. And believe it or not some teachers do not recognize that different children learn in different ways and at different rates and so forth. And then we have this problem of providing a learning environment where what I might call a favorable environment for learning in a school and again some teachers if they're if they're not properly let's say prepared for the jobs they may not recognize the importance of this. Well Ray you know your comment that where we're glad to have children in contact with a wide range of personality types if you will among their teachers is true.
There is a wide range of personalities that can be successful as teachers and they might be ideal for some of the students whereas another type of personality would be ideal for another group of students. On the other hand I think there are some individuals who because of you know heritage traits or perhaps environmental influences that cause them to relate in a different way to people for example. We should not be in the classroom not of our own experience we have known individuals who just lacked lets say leadership ability and somehow or other they couldn't gain this no matter how hard they tried. Beginning Teacher frequently staggers and stumbles with the problem of college discipline our control and recovers. The second year this teacher enters a classroom with a different attitude. But there are some people who just don't have it and they can't get it. And then I think also of communication. Some individuals words just don't seem to
come out the way others can understand them. And so there are some people who shouldn't continue in teaching or shouldn't enter teaching and I suppose it's our job to try to identify these. I think that what you're saying is true however the. Role of the teacher in many schools is changing so that the teacher does not have to be good in all areas. I think in the past we've expected teachers to be good lecturers to be good in leading small group discussions to be good in counseling youngsters to be good in test and measurements. In other words to be good in too many fields. And the idea of differentiating a staff in which you have team members composed in other words a team composed of such people as an outstanding lecturer. Other people whose skills tend to be in human relations work well with small groups some people who know much more about test and
measurements and are responsible for supervising teachers in constructing test items are changes within the school that I think will enable us to utilize people with a vast array of talents and abilities to a much greater degree than we have in the past. I also think that some of our certification requirements have been aimed at keeping people out of the profession rather than encouraging individuals who have abilities with along certain lines to come into the profession. At the same time every teacher it seems to me has got to have certain. Qualities certain abilities you just I don't think you can be a good teacher if you don't like young people. I don't think you can be a good teacher if you don't recognize the fact that these people before you are in the process of
becoming in you're there to help them. And I sense in some teachers the idea that they're there to eliminate those weaker ones flunk them out. And I just think that there is this is not the attitude or the position that a teacher can take in this regard. Well I'd certainly like to pursue this idea this topic of discipline a little more because certainly an ideal teacher is one who has a good environment in the classroom one who doesn't have a lot of trouble with discipline. And I know that in the school of yesterday many times teachers maintain let's say discipline through control. I maintain discipline I'd say and control through fear let's say in a part of the children while today we wouldn't consider that as an ideal teacher at all. And of course in those days good discipline was sit still and be quiet all the time we were asking something impossible of the kids. I think it is important to realize how the concept of good
discipline has changed. I recently visited a school that had no walls so that all of the elementary grades were together with it actually in separate parts of a large learning center that also served as the library. And when I first walked into this building I was amazed by the level of noise which was very great by the freedom the children had to move throughout the entire learning complex. And yet as I observed what the children were doing I saw children do things that amazed me. For example a second grade youngster got up and left his group walked over to the audiovisual part of the learning center. Found a filmstrip that he was looking for took it over. Put it into a film star projector and ram a film star projector himself and a youngster in the second grade. I might say we have some faculty members who
have difficulty running the filmstrip projectors who have been teaching for many many years. If that describes I think the change in our attitude toward discipline we want children not to be disciplined externally but to gain freedom the more freedom they can have the better to direct their own learning in their activities and their behavior. And someday we're going to have this worked out so that children do more of this. RAY It seems to me that this type of teacher that would fit into a situation like you've just described would would be rather unusual. I can't see this teacher being a beginner. It would seem to me that this teacher would have to. I have had much experience prior to this. This type of situation. I talked Leo with the director of the program and director said that they actually have had greater success with people who have had experience but limited experience that individuals who had taught for several years
tended to get into a pattern of teaching within a conventional classroom. And although there were exceptions to this that in general when those people tried to teach in the open complex constantly being observed by visitors by other teachers they had great difficulty in adjusting to that type of freedom or flecked actually flexibility would be better word I think than freedom but. Many of their teachers tended to be quite new and fact some were beginning teachers but most were people who had talked to three years. Somewhere in that category I think I would agree with you re. I don't think that these need to be older long experienced teachers. I think in the preparing of teachers if we can give them experiences in schools like the one you described and let them do their student teaching in the schools like that they will be more ready to step right into a situation like that than a teacher
who has been teaching for 20 or 30 years. You know your mentioning of the hop up and the noise in the movement in that room is something that is characteristic of many a hard working situation. It does happen in a regular classroom you can walk into a regular classroom regular in the sense that it is one room one class one group of 25 youngsters or so and a skillful teacher will have these learning areas and there will be a lot of movement and a lot of wiggling going on and to the observer. You may think well how can the children concentrate because user group over in the corner is working on something that requires their reading to each other perhaps. Here's another group working with the audio visual equipment. Well if they do it and they do it very well. In fact they've carried on a few experiments in this regard me and have concluded that if the individual is motivated enough that out external sounds are just cut off they do not interfere with the learning process.
I'd like to point out that these teachers in such situations if you would have described. Don't have control of the situation at first glance it might appear that things are not planned and children are going about quite much on their own as they please but after you observe while you raise you up as you notice that the teacher has a central position there and he isn't controlled but of the situation at all times. Actually what these people are doing is helping the children develop their creative abilities and their special talents while in a situation where the teacher cannot work in such an environment. The teacher may may actually be throwing blocks in the development of these special talents of special abilities that these children may possess and I imagine that the type of school that allows a great deal of freedom flexibility has.
Quite a bit of noise actually is more typical of the environment that the student will eventually be working on whether it's when he goes out into the world it would be a rare job in which an individual would be isolated from all others. So these youngsters are learning how to work as members of a group and I think if you observe an average child study get home with the TV set on or some other noise that would tend to distract many older people. Young children seem to be able to adjust to this very well and they do their homework without having a record player Hi-Fi set or something else interfere with what they're doing. Obviously our ideal teacher today is going to be a person who is pretty well adjusted himself. He's not going to be worried about too much or during having everything just right and just in this place he's not going to be
worried about other adults in the room perhaps observing or assisting. It's going to be in a way an administrator is me. Yes and he's going to be a person who feels very secure in himself and if in order for anyone to feel secure I think he has to know what he's doing and has to have confidence in what he's doing. And I think Leo's point is a very good one however that the teacher is in control of the class. I think in some cases freedom has been used as an excuse by poor teachers for their failure to maintain good discipline. And it's quite easy to say that I have a great deal of freedom in my room and that's why a students are wandering around and there is a lot of noise. But I think the noise has to be purposeful and the movement has to be purposeful. So if it was and and the teacher is unaware of what's happening within the room. And I think teachers are not doing his job.
I think this ideal teacher must have a knowledge and understanding of the children with whom he is working. For example the primary teacher must have a thorough knowledge of the fundamentals of child development and child psychology of this age group. Likewise the teacher of the third and fourth grade children must have a thorough knowledge of this child. We might proceed up the line the junior high school child the senior high school child days. New teachers must understand them thoroughly. They must know what motivates them to do what they do and what type of a learning environment will go will appeal to these youngsters in only oh there's a term that I like that contributes to that idea. It doesn't need a teacher really as an educational practitioner or educational practitioner which means essentially that the teacher understands the children and accepts them as they are. Now this
is receiving more and more attention because we have learned that the middle class teacher and most teachers seem to come from a middle class group and our society finds it difficult to accept lower class if we want to use that term culturally deprived children with difficulty. The teacher can't understand some of their attitudes and some of the bad habits by his standards that they have acquired some of the language that they use solely the our ideal teacher would be an educational practitioner. In this sense he would that he would accept children where they are and do whatever he could to move them along to uncomplicate better habits and to teach them in terms of where they are now and where they ought to go. I think in addition to this. Understanding of children and skill in the areas of human growth and development it is important to realize that the schools have changed a great deal within the
past few years technologically and that these technological changes will probably increase at even a faster rate within the next few years ahead. And as a result of that I think that it is necessary for a teacher educational institutions to make certain that the teacher has some understanding of recent technological changes. For example even within the field of instructional media or what most of us call audio visual instruction. The teacher has to be able to use overhead projectors opaque projectors tape recorders and some schools even radio closed circuit TV. And unfortunately in some cases these new media are being tested in schools and are not satisfactory and in many cases I think they have proved unsuccessful because the teacher
has not had the knowledge to use the media correctly rather than any inherent weakness in the media itself. Well if I were the school principal in describing my ideal teachers I think I would also. Think of them as teachers who could work cooperatively as a member of a faculty faculty because it's in today's schools. You have a lots of activities that call for the full cooperation of the teachers and working together and curriculum improvement projects and so forth and I know that if a teacher was a misfit and couldn't work with her coworkers and so forth or his coworkers he wouldn't be an ideal teacher in my estimation. I threw in returning rein to your idea of the various media gear the equipment that teachers are expected to use. I have to admit that as a principal of a school boy ultimately gave up on the house because I have a feeling that this is one of those skills that.
Most teachers at least female teachers are have are disinclined to acquire or they actually you no matter how hard they try on it can't acquire the techniques necessary for threading a film and setting up tapes and things of this nature. So I think here's a place where some specialized assistance is desirable. So the teacher who is busy planning what he is going to teach and preparing his materials doesn't have to worry about setting up the overhead projector in just the right alignment so that it shows up on the screen or threading the film in the film strip projector so that it isn't backward and upside down. And this is a task for a specialist and sometimes the students in the classroom actually can do this better than the teacher if they do it habitually and are trained in it. I agree that certainly there should be an instructional media specialist
available to assist the teachers and I think it is difficult to teach. Women especially how to use instructional media. However I think part of that is because nothing is done until the teacher is middle age or has been out for quite a period of time. I think it's quite easy to use most instructional media. They don't even have to thread the machines are self threading today or at least many are. So the teacher could learn to do this without much trouble if it were included as part of the pre-service educational program. One thing we haven't said much about is the personality of the teacher. Personal characteristics certainly at the elementary school level I think being a friendly warm personality is very desirable and very important. Well and then as the youngster matures and goes through the higher levels perhaps he can be handled a little more abruptly
and the personality can be of a different type. Well I think those Yasm would be very important at all levels of instruction where there'd be a primary or a senior in college. This may make the difference and I'm sure you see them as contagious and if the teacher is m through Z asked it very often the students will also all. Be contagious. I suppose what we're saying basically is that teachers are. Should be flexible and able to work in many different situations. But it's hard to describe the ideal teacher because the ideal teacher may be ideal for one situation such as elementary school and not for another school that perhaps allows for greater flexibility. However we do want teachers to be well-informed terms of their subject matter. To love children and to be skilled in presenting what they're teaching. Behind the classroom door produced by W. and I found in cooperation with the College of Education at Northern Illinois University each week
Behind the Classroom Door
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Behind the Classroom Door is a radio series from WNIU-FM about education in the United States. In each episode, faculty from the Northern Illinois University College of Education address specific issues related to public school education and operation. The program is produced in cooperation with Northern Illinois University and distributed by the National Educational Radio Network.
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