Opinion

Teaching profession deserves a review

We’ve all heard it before: Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach. The idiom summarizes many’s feelings about a profession that is highly undervalued.

At the University of Miami, the School of Education and Human Development is one of the smallest schools – with 539 students enrolled, according to the Office of Admission. That’s only about five percent of undergraduates. It may not be a popular path of study, but for many college students teaching is a back-up plan.

With 18 credits, a noneducation major can earn a professional training option minor and be certified to teach in Florida. Another popular post-grad option is joining Teach for America (TFA), which is currently recruiting for 2014.

The organization takes in recent graduates who have shown leadership qualities in college and places them in public schools around the country to teach for two years. TFA makes the assumption that, as long as you have a degree, you can receive a few short weeks of training and be ready to teach.

But that’s not done in any other career. There’s no crash course in becoming a doctor or lawyer, and being able to teach – and teach well – can be just as challenging.

TFA’s approach to education is part of a more widespread problem: the marginalization of the teaching profession, as Josh Diem, a professor in the Department of Teaching and Learning, calls it.

It has become increasingly easier to become a teacher through these alternative routes and certification programs. As a result, society seems to view teaching as something that anyone can do.

In reality, this de-professionalization of teaching as a career is only doing more harm to the underprivileged schools where TFA – which sends in unqualified “teachers” – aims to make improvements. While reform of the TFA program, such as limiting it to students with a background in education, is a step in the right direction, wider structural change is essential in the long-run.

In Finland, for example, teaching is the country’s most respected profession, and the career has competitive requirements. We need to follow Finland’s example and reverse the current trend of de-professionalization. By bringing more qualified teachers into schools,  we will be able to improve our educational system.

But this isn’t an obvious solution – because those who can, teach; those who can’t, make policies about teaching.

 

Editorials represent the majority view of The Miami Hurricane editorial board.

December 5, 2013

Reporters

The Miami Hurricane


Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • HurricaneSports

Eleven football seasons ago, after the Miami Hurricanes and FIU Panthers met at the Orange Bowl for ...

University of Miami fans no doubt are loving the Hurricanes’ two newest tight ends. What they’re pro ...

A six-pack of Hurricanes notes on a Thursday: ▪ Though UM wasn’t called for a single penalty against ...

Two of the best athletes and a freshman quarterback on the No. 21 University of Miami football team ...

A six-pack of Hurricanes notes on a Wednesday: ▪ The Miami Hurricanes are honoring their 1983 nation ...

UM students, faculty and staff commemorated the five-year anniversary of the Donna E. Shalala Studen ...

Miami’s Turnover Chain inspires copycats, but the U’s turnover prop has a ‘cool factor.’ ...

NASPA names UM as a Lead Advisory Institution for the seventh year in a row. ...

The trailer for a documentary exploring the relationships between UM students and Holocaust survivor ...

New technology could help workplaces and schools identify violent intruders before they enter the do ...

The Miami Hurricanes volleyball program won its third straight match in 3-0 fashion on Friday night ...

Estela Perez-Somarriba of the Miami women's tennis team registered two straight-set wins Friday ...

It's been over a decade since they last met, but Miami and FIU are set to renew their crosstown ...

The University of Miami cross country team gears up to compete in its third meet of the season this ...

University of Miami Director of Athletics Blake James announced Friday a five-year contract extensio ...

TMH Twitter
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.