If you’ve had the feeling that your child – or you – might be brighter than the teacher, you may not be wrong.
In a Herald Sun piece, Melbourne teacher Christopher Bantick slammed the ‘intellectual heft’ of aspiring teachers, enabled by the failure of universities to enforce a high standard:
It’s a no-brainer that if you put a thick teacher in front of kids, then they will not achieve… I am in my fourth decade of being a secondary teacher and I have seen academic standards decline in teachers.
In the last seven years, the required ATAR score for teaching courses in Victoria has been falling, from 75 in 2009 to 60 in 2016. In fact, an ATAR score of just 34.80 – out of 99.95 – can see someone become a teacher.
You can hardly argue that this results in the “best and brightest” teaching our children.
Bantick argues the blame falls squarely with our universities:
The reality is this: universities, especially not premier league performers, set low ATAR scores or no ATAR scores for teaching to ensure they get enough students. Teaching is their milch cow.
There is a direct correlation between high-performing ATAR scores and academically sound teaching.
High-quality teaching is the single most important in-school factor influencing student outcomes, according to research from both the OECD and AITSL Chair John Hattie. And the best teachers are also discipline authorities with deep knowledge of their subject matter, as educational psychologist Lee Shulman contends in his seminal paper, ‘Knowledge and teaching: Foundations of the new reform‘:
To teach all students according to today’s standards, teachers need to understand subject matter deeply and flexibly so they can help students create useful cognitive maps, relate one idea to another, and address misconceptions.
It should be a no-brainer. Smart teachers results in smart students. It’s really that simple.