The Guardian published an article earlier this week with the headline “Unqualified daughter of minister teaches in his academy schools“ and this naturally sparked ‘outrage’ among parents and teachers alike. Unlike many of the 9,000+ whom quickly shared the article, citing that it represents everything that is wrong with education – I actually read it! It’s all too easy to judge with our ‘filter-bubbles’, when often there is a second side to the story that must be heard. I’m not going to go into whether, Jo Nash got the job fairly or not – that’s none of my business, but I’m concerned with what is right for the children.
I completely agree that like-for-like, a qualified teacher is better than an unqualified one – I wouldn’t argue that for a second. However, we should always look at this from the children’s perspective and providing the teacher knows the subject well (Jo Nash certainly does), then passion should count for something too. Put simply, unqualified teachers should be considered on a case-by-case basis. If you have someone, in this case a volunteer, who lives and breathes the subject and has a great manner with the kids, then why would you not let them teach your children? I’m not saying this is the case with Jo Nash – I’ve never even met her, but I’m guessing neither have you, so who are we to judge?
To clarify, I’m not saying we should do away with teacher training – far from it! As I said in the start – I believe it improves the quality of teaching. Ask yourself this however, what is going to inspire your child more – someone who has a degree in a completely different field, but completed teachers training, or somebody that has a genuine interest in the only subject they teach? I know who I’d want teaching my children! I know teachers that often read textbooks the night before to learn a subject ready to teach the next day – is that the right way to teach? I certainly don’t think so.
I’ll share with you a little known fact about myself. I want to be a Science Teacher (Physics in particular). Not right now I must add – I have so much I want to achieve first, before I could consider settling down to employment again – especially one I’d have to train heavily for, but I do really want to do it at some point in my life – hey I’m still young-ish! I find myself reading astrophysics books every night, listening to various science themed podcasts/radio stations daily (check out Startalk) and watching at least a documentary a week – a sad hobby perhaps, but I’ve always got a huge kick out of physics!
Bear with me here – there is a point to this I promise… I’m sure those that know me would agree that I’d probably make a good physics teacher, but I do face some hurdles before I can start that journey. Coming from a poorer background, I actually had to pull out of further education just 2 weeks before the first term to get a full-time job. I’ve done well for myself and completed lots of additional qualifications in my spare time, but never actually a degree and so before I can can even contemplate being a teacher, I need to get studying…
Recently, I had the urge to get a Maths & Physics Honours with Open University, so that at least my first barrier was removed when the time comes, but then it hit me. The biggest reason why I want to be a science teacher is to inspire children into the field. The 3,600 hours that Open Uni say I’d need for the degree is surely better spent actually inspiring children and not reading textbooks..? So here we are – we’ve mixed Science & Coding (my day job by the way) into a fun club for kids! I digress slightly, but my point is, when I eventually complete my degree, I will have already had taught children, albeit informally, for years and supposing there’s still a shortage of new teachers – would you really want me to take further time out to complete teachers training before taking to the classroom? Surely it would be far more sensible for me to start teaching and train while I do the job?