Improvements To The System

In a stack of papers called Reform.

  • Jan
  • 16
  • 2006

I didn’t take a single course that really focused on adolescent psychology during the time I was in the credential program. In fact, no such course was required then, nor is it required now if even offered.

There’s been a lot of writing lately about George Will’s ideas in regard to abolishing all ed schools. While I have a fundamental disagreement with what Will wrote and think he is poorly informed (just look at his title, “vs.” implies either/or thinking that is almost always filled with fallacious reasoning), it does make me think of how credential programs need to be improved.

Raising Cain

Yesterday, while I was slouching around the house in a sick haze, I watched PBS all day. There are some great shows and I never feel like a couch potato watching it. I happened to catch Raising Cain and that really got me thinking.

I didn’t take a single course that really focused on adolescent psychology during the time I was in the credential program.

There were courses that discussed psychology tangentially, but none that actually had that as its prime directive. Why? An understanding of adolescent psychology would help educators better craft lessons to get through to students, better tailor our language to fit our audience, better enable us to meet students where they are.

I highly recommend getting a hold of the show and watching it. I saw my students there, both male and female, and I saw several things that made me think about the way I address my classes. Anything that can get teachers thinking about those kids of things is worthwhile.

Continuing Education

Reading in the Content Area and English Teaching Methods are the two credential courses that stand out in my mind. I wish I could take those courses again, actually, as they would inform my teaching more now that I am actually in the classroom. I would get a lot more out of those courses being a full-time teacher and having a few years of experience behind me. Maybe the credential program needs to account for that and encourage or require continuing education during the first 4 years of teaching (pick a number, 4 years, 5 years, 2 years).

The current continuing education requirement can be met by staff inservice meetings and various workshops attended throughout the year. Most teachers know that neither of those options really provide for true continuing education. And most teachers know that having to enroll in a college course while teaching means that one of those two pursuits will receive the short end of the stick: the teaching will suffer or the studying will suffer. In most other careers where continuing education is required, so much time outside of regular work hours is not demanded. While taking a night class may be just as much of a hassle for someone who is not a teacher, teachers have planning and grading that require so much additional time outside the work day that night classes are more than simply an inconvenience; night classes are damn near impossible.

Somehow, it needs to an attractive option, even a possibility, for teachers to learn the latest and greatest techniques, to stay on top of the current body of research. However many years ago it was that they went through it, what they learned in their credential courses is now out of date.


Yes, things certainly need to change in credential programs. I think that a focus on psychology is a must. My mother used to be a kindergarten teacher and she has an extensive background in child psychology as a result of the courses she took to prepare for that job. High school teachers should be no different and neither should elementary or junior high school teachers. Add to that a way to make continuing education an easy, cohesive, and necessary part of the job and I think we’d go a long way toward improving education schools.


1. aruumac says:

[1/27/2006 - 7:39 am]

I’m working on an MA in Education. I’m taking and Adolescent Psych course. My professor feels that studying education ethics and law would be time better spent so she is devoting some of our time to that.

Her reasoning is that psychologists are employed by the school district to handle problems based in psychology. Teachers don’t need to know a whole course of psych like theories of congnitive development, maturation/puberty, role of families, teen crisis, etc. One course wouldn’t equip us to handle those things. We should focus on teaching.

2. Todd says:

[1/27/2006 - 7:55 am]

So your prof is spending time on ethics and law; does that mean that because of one course you will all be lawyer-teachers? No, but you’ll be better off than you were before. Why should psychology be any different? And plenty of schools only have a psychologist on site part time. Having one psychologist for a district in no way means that everything is taken care of.

Your prof’s reasoning implies that psychology and a focus on teaching are mutually exclusive. “We should focus on teaching.” Right and a course on psychology would only help us do that.