The Australian experience

October 2012

 

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DIANE MAYER looks at the challenges with teacher education programmes in Australia.

Fast-track entry-to-teaching courses have popped up in Australia, as in New Zealand, providing the impetus for academics to look again at the value being added by teacher education programmes, says Professor Diane Mayer, executive dean of the Faculty of Arts, Education and Human Development at Victoria University in Australia.

A keynote speaker at the TEFANZ conference, Prof Mayer says the current question in Australia, as elsewhere in the world, is focused on the professionalisation of teaching and the way teacher education is being delivered.

She says educators have to meet these challenges head on and look at the value teacher education is adding.

“We need to address the question of whether students entering the profession with little or no teacher education still make good teachers.”

It is for us, as teacher educators, to provide research and evaluation and to follow our graduates over the longer term to provide meaningful answers to questions like: What should beginning teachers know and be able to do? How can judgments be made about what beginning teachers know and are able to do?”

Mayer supports and backs a self-regulated profession and professional accountability but says that brings with it the need to provide evidence that the education being provided is working.

“There is a seeming lack of trust emerging which means governments and regulators are looking increasingly at how teacher education programmes are taught. They are moving away from focusing on the successful ‘outputs’ – well-prepared entry-level teachers who show leadership, professionalism, and the ability to make well-contextualised decisions – to regulating the inputs.

“It might be more politically palatable with electorates for governments to regulate to that level, but it might not achieve the best results for students, teachers, or parents,” says Mayer.

Professor Mayer is keynote speaker on 25 October. Her current research and scholarship focuses on the policy and practice of teacher education, examining issues associated with the professionalism of teaching and what that means for the policy and practice of teacher education.