Of course, teachers should be intelligent, energetic and committed individuals, but these qualities alone will not serve to ensure their students’ learning.
Effective teaching, of which students’ learning and development is at the core, necessitates well-developed subject, curriculum and pedagogical knowledge.
Teachers need a reliable understanding of young people, the teaching and learning process, and teaching methods in order to feel comfortable in the instructional environment of the classroom and, I would suggest, to offer a ‘high quality’ education to students.
The effectiveness of the decisions they make in the classroom requires being able to utilise theories and research around student motivation and engagement and behaviour management.
They need to understand what they need to do to harness a students’ learning and they need to be able to rationalise their pedagogical choices.
Teachers need to be able to ponder how they might improve their practices and their students’ learning confidence, academic success and progress relies on this ability.
A person entering the teaching profession without the appropriate knowledge and preparation is likely to come to depend on their own school experience and the opinions they have formed about the educational process as a result.
This is a flawed approach that has the potential to be biased, outdated and severely limited, penalising current and future students.
Additionally, without a reliable understanding of a subject and how to teach it, there is a tendency to use well marketed, commercially developed programs that do not necessarily utilise appropriate teaching methods or cater for the diverse needs of students in a particular class.
Teachers need to be able to draw on a conceptual framework as they consider and evaluate the quality of the ideas and approaches of a programme and their relevance to their students’ learning.
Teachers need to be well-prepared and fully qualified.
They need a high quality, academically rigorous university education that provides them with a strong theoretical and research framework from which they can draw when teaching and making educational decisions.
They need to be able to use their knowledge to develop their teaching expertise and offer the highest quality learning for their students.
The idea of fostering teacher excellence is to be upheld, and to suggest that this might occur by minimising the importance of a university degree for teachers diminishes the value of education itself.