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Teaching Qualifications

From the April 21, 1998 Record:

[President Hank] Payne mentioned plans for more large events, a program on leadership by Chair and Professor of Psychology George Goethals at a new center at Mount Hope Farm, and a new program to give students the qualifications to teach in public schools to increase student interest in civic life.

1) Did anything ever come of this discussion?

2) Bates offers a minor in Education. Does this help out Bates students who go into teaching, at least in terms of the certification necessary in various states? Should Williams do something similar?

3) As best I can tell, a huge percentage of teachers go on to get “Masters,” or is that only true in Massachusetts. Main benefit seems to be increased pay. So, perhaps Williams could offer a “Masters in Education” that would just count the vast numbers of AP courses that most Williams students come in with along with a couple of classes in education. That would be a scam, compared to what my daughters’ teachers — including a recent Williams graduate — have to go through, but it would be a scam in a good cause.

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#1 Comment By hwc On November 8, 2009 @ 1:13 pm

You are probably looking at a major undertaking to add an Education Department at Williams.

The department I just looked at has five tenure-track faculty plus three visiting positions. I don’t see the resources for new programs over the next few years.

#2 Comment By Guy Creese ’75 On November 8, 2009 @ 5:38 pm

Education, at least at the undergraduate level, is a major similar to basket weaving. All the teachers I had with an Education degree could say “No” to a student 47 different ways (e.g., in my high school history class a student claimed World War I started because the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor–the teacher’s reply was, “That’s close….”) but didn’t know their subject.

The farther Williams stays away from giving any Education degrees the better.

#3 Comment By ephling On November 8, 2009 @ 6:27 pm

Undergraduate major in education only lets you teach elementary school. Secondary requires major in subject field in order to get certified. If teachers = basket weavers we are spending $800 billion a year on it, you would think that would make us some pretty good baskets. NCLB requires teachers to get masters degrees generally within 5 years. Williams is too rural to make any money handing out certifications since most teachers, maybe 90%, get their masters part-time while working. Plus the school would have to get accredited and its level great undergrad education means nothing towards grad school accreditation. Some pretty good schools like Columbia, Harvard, Stanford offer masters in education so not necessarily a bad business. Good business to stay out of for Williams.

#4 Comment By PTC On November 8, 2009 @ 6:28 pm

A focus on education is a good call. If you are truly worried about “validity” Make it a double major option.

I am all for it, as this would surely increase outreach to the failing local high schools. Anything that helps Williams and local schools is good for the towns and the college. I have always been a strong advocate for putting more Williams power into local education.

With the poor economy, and every job getting more competitive- the option in teaching may also increase the attractiveness of the school for students.

I believe that more Williams involvement in local schools already started with the outreach in 2007… so why not attach a valid education degree to it? Having a good local high school would do nothing but benefit Williams in every way.. town relationships, recruiting and more importantly keeping good professors etc.

Guy- While it may be true the program your teachers went to was weak… no way that flies at a place like Williams. Let’s face it, teaching is important… it is important to have smart and capable people doing it. Why not let Williams take a shot at it as a double major for undergrad… then as a masters if that works out for the school?

#5 Comment By PTC On November 8, 2009 @ 6:37 pm

http://www.doe.mass.edu/Educators/e_license.html?section=k12

You do not need a masters to teach high school in MA, or any other state that I am aware of. I am quite sure Williams could easily figure out the certification process and make sure that everyone who majored in teaching had a worthwhile experience as well as earning the proper qualifications to be valid in the workforce.

#6 Comment By 1980 On November 8, 2009 @ 6:44 pm

There were a couple of young Williams grads teaching at my kid’s private high school, several others from other NESCAC schools. All were terrific teachers. Thank goodness they didn’t major in education.

#7 Comment By Whitney Wilson ’90 On November 8, 2009 @ 7:43 pm

I know at least one EphBlog reader who graduated from Williams – without an education degree, of course – went on to get a Masters in Education, and then taught for a number of years in both public and private schools. Based on his descriptions, I believe there is some value in the education degree. This also is in accord with common sense. Even if I have a good understanding of U.S. history, it does not necessarily follow that I know enough about classroom management, teaching, dealing with difficult children (parents?), etc. Perhaps some or all of this can be picked up through experience, or some people might have it naturally, but I have to believe that some of it can be taught to new teachers. Do the Teach for American teachers get any training before being dropped into classes? I would assume they do. I think while “education” may not warrant an entire major, to dismiss it entirely is likely a mistake.

#8 Comment By hwc On November 8, 2009 @ 7:49 pm

Williams students can take the required courses and teaching practicium as a post-bac semester at the state school in North Adams:

Link to teacher certification

The staff member at Williams responsible for the teaching program most recently developed a Masters in teaching program with certification at Bennington:

Susan Engel

#9 Comment By hwc On November 8, 2009 @ 8:14 pm

An education program at a top undergrad college would not just include courses on teaching, but also courses that deal with broader educational policy in that same way that a poli sci course might look at immigration policy.

I can’t imagine why we wouldn’t want the best undergrad colleges to develop future leaders in education. I don’t think the budget allows creation of a new program at Wiliams right now, but hypotethically is seems like a desireable thing. In the abstract, it seem hard to imagine why anyone wouldn’t be for it.

#10 Comment By 1980 On November 8, 2009 @ 9:32 pm

Whitney, TFA teachers get about six weeks of training the summer before they start (at least for the area of the country where my son’s friends are TFA teachers). It is pretty minimal prep – this is one of the criticisms of the TFA program. My son’s friends are working their butts off as TFA teachers. It is not an easy job. I have a lot of admiration for kids who take this on.

#11 Comment By Climber On November 8, 2009 @ 10:49 pm

From a 35-year perspective in education, 1980 has it right. Bright young graduates from schools like Williams are ready to go right into the classroom. If anything, offer courses in the history of education for context and psychology for vocabulary and resources around child development, along with a pedagogy course that simply points talented students to the best of resources available about classroom management and leadership. Any value in ed courses is often outweighed as prospective teachers are drawn away from depth in their subject areas and from other courses that demand deep analysis, creativity, and reading/writing/speaking skills.

Teach for America has it right, and teacher colleges/teacher unions (though I’m generally pro-union otherwise) have it wrong.

#12 Comment By hwc On November 9, 2009 @ 2:25 am

Teachers’ unions don’t have anything to do with the education department course offerings at top colleges and universities. The courses I’ve looked at all almost all focused on macro issues: educational policy, urban education, comparative education (policies around the world), etc. or on broader issues such as developmental psychology.

I, too, have heard many complaints about Teach for America throwing graduates to the wolves and I hear these complaints from college students who have the most experience with urban teaching.

#13 Comment By kthomas On November 9, 2009 @ 6:58 am

I’m surprised that David has not brought IQ into this discussion, where it may be more relevant.

Let me see if I can imitate the style:

“What percentage of people with stock Education (undergrad) degrees have IQs lower than the average at Richmond High School?”

#14 Comment By ephling On November 9, 2009 @ 8:22 am

At the risk of being argumentative if I could hire only one teacher and the choice was a recent grad from Williams or a recent grad from Teachers College at Columbia, Columbia wins hands down. In its best execution teaching is a profession and calls for professional preparation and credentials. I know a number of traders with only undergrad degrees that know more about the economy and finance than most economics professors, but that does not mean that any top college would ever make them tenured profs. Subject matter knowledge is a critical part of teaching, but so is pedagogy. That guy on the other end of the log had a lot more going for him than just information.

#15 Comment By Derek On November 9, 2009 @ 9:19 pm

If Williams ever even thinks of offering anything resembling an education degree, I’m done with Williams. I have almost literally nothing good to say about any education school or department I have ever encountered. Williams folks who want to teach have myriad ways to go about doing so. An education program would not only go against just about everything a liberal arts college is supposed to care about, it would also almost inevitably mean that Williams produces worse teachers because now our teachers learn, truly learn, a subject area rather than the dubious and often silly “methodologies,” “pedagogical techniques,” and “education theories” spewed out by the folks with EdD’s, which to my reckoning stands for “Everyone Deserves a Doctorate.” You want to teach history? learn some history. Tempted to take an education class? Learn more history instead. Teaching is an acquired skill, but Ephling can have all the Columbia teacher grads he wants. If they majored in education and not in their subject matter, Ephling made a stupid choice.

dcat

#16 Comment By PTC On November 9, 2009 @ 9:28 pm

Derek- I like the idea because it would effect local education… why not offer a double major, or a minor that leads to a cert?

#17 Comment By Shamus On November 9, 2009 @ 11:24 pm

A degree would allow more to teach in more schools which would be a wonderful idea!

#18 Comment By Derek On November 10, 2009 @ 1:02 pm

PTC —
I can understand that — you are a strong advocate of Williams contributing to the local community and certainly that might be a good way. And let me back off of one part of my earlier comments — I think education degrees and departments are nonsense at the high school level and probably for middle and junior high. But for early childhood it can be important, except that it should not be the domain of education folks so much as psych and people with a specific early childhood focus.
But rather than Williams having an education program, why not have Williams work with the local school districts to develop an alternative certification program that would place Williams students in classrooms, working with mentors, perhaps at winter study (I think there is a program that does just this) and during summers when some schools have summer sessions. In other words, yes — have Williams be part of education in the local community while adhering to the ideal of a liberal arts education. Get history and English and math majors min the classroom, but get the local schools to recognize that the education degree path is not necessary if you have bright, motivated folks who want to teach.
Yes Shamus — and an engineering degree would allow more Williams students to go into engineering; a nursing degree would allow more to go into nursing; etc. But then Williams becomes another institution. A small liberal arts college does not buy into the myths of pre-professionalism. We send people into business and into the classroom and into a whole host of realms where we do not have professional/pre-professional programs precisely because of the strengths of a liberal arts education.

Best –
dcat

#19 Comment By Climber On November 10, 2009 @ 1:14 pm

I agree that Teachers’ College at Columbia is outstanding and wish that it was the norm. Among their many advantages is the fact that they attract highly talented students, something that can’t be said of most education programs in the country.

My earlier comment about teacher unions has to do with the fact that they seem complicit with the education program/state board of education notion that teachers need credentials and certificates(traditionally from education programs, though this is changing) before they can be certified to teach. Independent schools benefit greatly from not having to accept this precondition for the employment of their teachers.

Overheard on a plane, once, from a conversation of three teachers on the way to an NEA meeting (I’m assuming they were local reps): “Can you believe it, they are letting that librarian at ********** teach their humanities course, and all she has is a liberal arts degree.”

#20 Comment By hwc On November 10, 2009 @ 2:49 pm

There is a curious presumption in this thread that Williams College would not be able to attract top professors and be capable of teaching education courses at a level suitable for one of the country’s top colleges.

I don’t understand this. In my opinion, Williams would be likely to teach education related courses at the same level as it teaches political science or any other social science field.

#21 Comment By Buckeye On November 10, 2009 @ 3:07 pm

Someone ought to commend David for authoring this short, yet discussion-inducing post, particularly given the high level at which discussion has remained.

#22 Comment By JeffZ On November 10, 2009 @ 3:32 pm

This is pretty off point, but not entirely — Amherst just announced that they are planning to offer a new major in Film and Media studies. While I share many of the concerns echoed above, if Williams could choose one department, among those discussed of late, to keep / expand / intitiate, I think I’d rank ’em (1) Linguistics, (2) Education, (3) Film and Media studies (I love movies as much, or more, than the next guy, but come on …).

#23 Comment By hwc On November 11, 2009 @ 2:22 am

Film and Media Studies is a hot new field, in part, because it encompasses all of the internet under the catch phrase “new media”. YouTube, blogging, social networking sites like MySpace and Twitter, etc.

Besides, it’s a perfect Amherst major. The school where science and math went to die.

#24 Comment By hwc On November 11, 2009 @ 2:25 am

It’s also becoming increasingly difficult to study any cultures without looking at film, tv, and media. For example, how do you study contemporary India and not touch on the Bollywood industry?

#25 Comment By Invisible Mom On November 12, 2009 @ 12:48 pm

Bowdoin is expanding its Education program offerings, by creating Bowdoin Teacher Scholars. This program will allow students to earn a teaching certificate up to two years after graduating at no extra cost. By giving students flexibility, they expect that students will continue to be able to go abroad, and participate in the usual liberal arts offerings, yet give them education courses, teaching experience, and state teaching certification.
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