Learning for 2020

My journey to understand what life will be in year 2020 and how we should prepare our next generation to cope with life at 2020.

Location: Melbourne, Australia

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Teachers are in big trouble

I have jokingly written the post "Teachers are in big trouble" in the Random Walk in E-learning blog.

I have seen the decline of the social status of teachers - at least in Hong Kong where I have taught for nearly 20 years.

In many countries, the education department of universities only attract the least capable students. After graduation, these teachers enter a workplace totally isolated from real world. In the school I taught, 50+ teachers shared one telephone line in the staff room. I struggled to maintain my own professional development at my own time and effort. I remembered the situation when I needed to attend my teacher training. Special application was needed to arrange a free period just before end of school in two afternoons. This was treated by the school management as a special favour to me. In one occasion, there was a teacher meeting after school on a day that I needed to attend the teacher training, I was demanded to still behind school for the meeting instead of the professional program I have enrolled - irrespective of the tasks demanded of me in the program. [I was due to have a presentation in the program, whereas the teachers' meeting was basically just a task assignment for the coming sport day - which I knew what my task would be anyway!]

I entered the teaching profession with a big heart - wanting to help the next generation. I have persisted and am still working in the e-learning industry. I am proud to have some very bright students who recognised my effect on them. But overall, I felt that teaching is not a highly regarded profession anyway.

To be fair to David Wiley, the two main camps referred to in the post are for "instructional designers". In many cases, instructional designers' job is to create teaching program to replace teacher. So drawing such a provocative conclusion from such a view is too easy.

However, the deeper lesson which we should consider is whether education is the same as learning. Is the job of teacher to help learner learns or to educate? Should well designed instruction replace teacher? If the answer is negative, then can teacher demonstrate values that can reverse the current path to extinction? As a society, should we allow teachers' social status to continue to decline?


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