A Teacher Training Program - An Answer?

For a better tomorrow, my current thoughts are that we must focus on the people who engineer the tomorrow - K-12 teachers.

First draft of my HOW-TO guide for this huge plan:

1. Study current methods that are producing such low quality teachers in India
  • Is the input to the teacher training program not good?
    • How good do they have to be?
      • What is needed to be a good primary/ secondary school teacher?
      • What is lacking in the incoming people?
        • How to inculcate the qualities in the incoming batches of people?
        • Is this possible?
        • If not, why is it not possible and what kind of people should come in?
          • To get these people what do we need to do?
  • Is the curriculum outdated?
    • What should go?
    • What should stay?
    • What should be added?
  • Are they motivated and told that they are engineering the future? They must be. They are going to be doing important, very cool work and not something drab - and they should know that!
2. Get money from corporations (force them to pay up - training fees that is going to reduce their training expenses in the future :P)
3. Develop a curriculum for teachers - (totto chan, sukhomlinsky, janusz korczak, divaswapan - MUST read - i am reading up - i have lots more to go...)
  • timeline
  • first unlearn a LOT of things
  • then start learning
    • about children
      • their lives
      • their backgrounds
      • health
      • who they are?
      • how they think?
      • how they learn?
      • how each one of them can get successful
      • what is success?
    • about parents
      • how to find out who they are?
      • how to deal with different types
      • how they affect their children
      • how they must be coerced into not adversely affecting their kids
    • about adolescents
      • their problems
      • dealing with it
  • How to evaluate? 
    • Develop evaluation methodology
    • What is wrong with the current technique? What should change and what must remain (nothing?!)?
  • Motivating children and always know that they will definitely get there - given enough time and enough encouragement - children will definitely get to doing their best.
4. Start the teacher training program
  • Get unemployed folks after a test to get the kind of people we want
  • get them to the right level for primary classes first and then middle school and then high school
  • rigorous training for them
    • to appreciate their importance in the lives of the children they will deal with  
    • to make themselves capable fo taking up this responsibility
  • Evaluate the teachers after the program and throw out those who havent unlearnt well enough
5. Start taking stats of student /teacher ratio in village schools

6. For each school without a good ratio, sponsor the number of needed teachers from the good pool that we have trained - paid by the corporates - these teachers should be supervised and overseen by a set of dedicated people who need to be trained too (esp teachers of middle and high school children who have to deal with adolescent kids)

7. Evaluate these teachers every year, evaluate the students in appropriate ways and not continue the same insanity that prevails in evaluation methods - teachers may need to be thrown out

8. Make such a difference that the current teachers also want to do a better job - provide incentive for signing up for the training

Will these steps take us closer to a better future for everyone? And not a chosen few?

Some operational questions that need answering: How can we raise money? How can we get every expat indian to sponsor the cause? How can we get people to get started on it? Who will drive it all? And how can we get the government to agree with the plan?

Is this going to be mired in controversy somehow and never see light because the evil powers-that-be do not want to see things change, because if they didn't wouldn't things be better already?? Am I just too pessimistic? Or is that just reality? If so, how can that be dealt with and how will we make this program a reality?

Will it work? Are there any gaping holes in this that you see (who ever you are, will ye be kind enough to point out what you see/ don't see). I want this to be extensible and doable in a large scale, so that many many people will be benefited.

Is it not high time that we did something? I'll end with what woke me up 5 years ago. It is impossible to be indifferent when you are awake and you start seeing things differently:

So long as the millions live in hunger and ignorance, I hold every man a traitor, who, having been educated at their expense, pays not the least heed to them - Vivekananda


Ramana said...

First impressions: Extremely ambitious- But I guess you already knew that. Let me answer your questions this way-If I was a corporation school teacher and had to make credible excuses these would be my excuses: 1) Too many children in each class to manage. This is not going to go away anytime soon and we probably have to live with this constraint forever. (Unless your program inspires everyone to become teachers and we have more teachers than students :-) ) So we have to find a way for teachers to more efficiently work with all the students. Think about assistant teachers(TA types) to do all the menial work and leave the teachers to focus on the kids. 2) I am not being paid enough and hence not motivated enough to be a teacher- Money is a crucial factor and we need more money to be pumped in for paying the teachers. Thats a fact. My biggest concerns apart from the teachers would be the bureaucracy and the inertia associated with them. To bring about any change like this would require massive government support- I am presuming your main target would be government schools. According to me the best approach would be to start off a school, employ and train your teachers according to your methodologies, show off the progress you are making as a pilot program to the government and get them to do something similar. I see this as a fantastic plan to alleviate most of the real world problems we face. Best of luck with it.

Nithya said...

A few things that I did not explain in the post because of it was becoming too long: 1. I know it is very ambitious, but as far as I can see the only way out - I just hope it is doable in some length of time 2. I think I answer the problem of too-many-children-in-each-class, by increasing the number of teachers, picking from the large pool of unemployed people we have in our country (6.8% of our total labour force of 523 million ppl in 2008 acc. wikipedia) 3. Yes, we need to raise funds to train them and pay them decently (even during the training period). This money needs to come from the people who earn decently, the corporate sector, the government and the rich expats 3. Government schools are indeed the targets because they have the poorest of the poor - kids, infrastructure, student/ teacher ratios. Absolutely the place that needs change 4. This whole idea came to be after a discussion of starting a *model* school. I am not for it at all! Because I do not see it as being a means to an end where every one has equal opportunity. We will just "choose" a community to serve, and only they will benefit - the chosen few will become a bigger set. The problem is we have too many people who need good teachers, we have government schools that are supposed to do the job but don't - Making these functional will be what works for the entire populace. The model of starting our school and putting in all our resources into it is just not scalable


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