Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Wannabe teachers to get short stint in school before NIE training 

The Straits Times reports today that the Ministry of Education has ruled that graduates who want to be teachers will have to do a four-week stint in a school before starting training at the National Institute of Education (NIE).

The newspaper said that “principals who have seen new teachers quit welcomed the move. It means those who feel they are not suited for teaching can opt out before they sign a three-year bond and start training”.

The sidebar cited the case of an NIE graduate who, after working 10 weeks at a school, found that she could not handle her students, paid off her bond and resigned. It cited Prof Allan Luke, dean of the NIE’s Centre for Research in Pedagogy and Practice, as saying that there was no “magical” aptitude test to spot potential teachers.

Personally, I would agree that there is no magical aptitude test, and that a short stint on the job may help identify problems early on. Having said that, I think psychometric tests may also help provide some clues as to the suitability of candidates for teaching jobs.

In any case, many teachers and ex-teachers who have complained about the job point to the heavy workloads that they have to bear, often work not directly related to teaching. I doubt that a four-week stint prior to training, or assessing the ability of a teacher to handle his or her students, addresses this part of the problem.

Hopefully, the appointment of vice-principals to take charge of administrative tasks, reportedly to begin in June, will. My question is whether, in the absence of a change in management mindsets or incentive structure, the arrival of these vice-principals will only provide an excuse for the education authorities to find other non-teaching work for teachers.


I totally agree. A teacher's duty to the students are often compromised by other miscellanous work and that robs a teacher of the joy of teaching.

Often, there also exists a parallex error between a 'newcomer's' expectations and the true job scope. While that may be true for most occupations, in where there is often little training on the job as compared to other 'honourable' professions like being a nurse, it can be damning to both the teacher and the students.

On addition, the well-intended 5 day work week is grabbing a lot of teachers by the neck as they have even limited time to be able to 'touch' the students in probably an almost extra-curiculum way. Teachers are really one of the most abused professions in Singapore. Perhaps this 4 week stint will separate the truly passionate and willing from the wavering and unprepared ones by giving a glimpse of what is to come.

-the rational neurotic-

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