Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Plans To Strengthen The Education System Worldwide

The country's future, a large part determined by its future adults, can be shaped by those who, with education degrees in hand, enter the field of teaching. Teachers help young children develop mentally and socially, instilling in them the skills that can help them to become capable adults. When education leaders from throughout the world gather in New York in March, they plan on trying to come up with ways to strengthen the profession of teaching.

Individuals who are born with a great talent for teaching might be among those who set out to obtain education degrees. But talent isn't everything, US Department of Education's Secretary suggested in a news release from the agency. She noted that the entire education system - from recruiting teachers to maintaining and supporting them during their careers - is important as far as establishing teachers who, collectively, have a positive effect on their students.

The training that students receive as part of education degree programs in the United States might depend largely upon the type of teacher they want to become. In the book, The Teaching Gap: Best Ideas from the World's Teachers for Improving Education in the Classroom, authors James W. Stigler and James Hiebert contend that the focus in improving education should be on teaching, rather than teachers, and establishing a system that is able to learn from its own experience. Continued learning for teachers, according to Stigler and Heibert, is also important in terms of teaching.

These authors look towards 8th grade math, and point to Japan when it comes to having the most skillful and purposeful teaching system - one where teachers, through past lessons, memorization and lectures help students build "scaffolds," or establish ways for resolving problems that can at times be challenging. Teachers in high achieving countries follow different methods of instruction, Stigler and Heibert found. Teaching at its Best author Linda Burzotta Nilson recommends in part that teachers understand their students and how they learn.

Nilson's book focuses on college and university instruction and also addresses the millennial generation and distance learning, or online courses and online degree programs. Education degree programs also are available online, and students who participate in these programs might, once they enter teaching careers, find themselves relying more frequently on technology. That's in part because distance education is becoming more prevalent at the K-12 levels as well.

Students in education degree programs might learn about the federal government's "Race to the Top" competition, whereby states can obtain grant money for education reform efforts. In Florida, which was selected as a winner, the State Board of Education and Florida Department of Education this year held a "What's Working in Effective Teaching and Leadership" series.

In one session, the Vice President of Policy for the New Teacher Project, spoke about teachers being the most powerful factor in the academic success or failure of their students. He spoke of the "widget" effect, where teachers are treated in evaluation systems in different states as if one was as good as the other. There are some teachers who push students forward and others who drag them backward, he noted. By the time students obtain education degrees and enter the field, they might be evaluated differently as well.

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