Tuesday, May 1, 2012

On teacher education

The more I think about it, the more the culprit in parent-teacher conflicts over homework seems to me to be the schools of education. I wrote my book with the idea that it would be short and easily read, specifically with the hope that it could be used as a tool by the parent to give to the teacher and form the foundation for a productive dialogue over the child’s homework problems. I know parents who have brought other books on homework to their teachers in advocating for their children before mine came into print. But why is that necessary? I’ve been a psychologist for thirty five years and I’ve almost never been handed a book on psychotherapy or psychological testing to help me understand my field. Occasionally, I’ve had a client who has mentioned something that person heard in the news, or read, but rarely had that person felt a need to educate me in the field. I had an intensive education in the theory, research, and practice of the main things I do in my field – therapy and testing – in graduate school. I try to keep up with developments in my field, but I certainly don’t read every book. But that intense foundation from my graduate education has formed the foundation for the work I do now, and for my overall capacity to understand and conceptualize issues in my field. Where’s the course on “Homework.” I know teachers are educated in their field. They learn how to teach. They learn how to manage the class. I like kids but I’d be nervous about going in front of a group of children, day after day. I have never been trained to be a teacher. The said fact is that teachers are trained to teach, but they are not trained to give out homework. They don’t learn about homework until they enter student teaching at which point they model the behavior of an experienced teacher. But neither has been given the foundation they need to use homework as a tool, and that is what compel s parents to have to bring to them information about the problems with homework. For an activity that can garner a zero (a super F with 2 ½ times more negative weight than a 60, an ordinary failing grade) that factors in up to 25 percent of the students final grade, I would expect them to have more education on the topic and the technique.

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